What the World Needs Now: Resilience

by | Jul 15, 2016 | Resilience | 0 comments

Resilience: the ability to bounce back and come back even stronger.

I can hardly think of a time when we need it more in our world. Sometime bad news feels like it’s coming at us like a machine gun bullets- one after another with little time to dodge the bullet or draw breathe.

I believe I am resilient by nature and by nurture. However perhaps it’s just that my limits of resilience have not been fully tested. We all experience stress in our lives. It’s when our perception of the stress, (which is completely subjective), exceeds our ability to cope, that we can go into meltdown. Everyone has limits and the problem is that we don’t even know they are limits. Like the fish doesn’t notice the water. But it’s learned behaviour and it can be unlearned.

While I prefer to look on the bright side of life…

However, sometimes the dark side of life is forces itself on you…

I’ll tell you a story which is pretty sad and acts as a reminder to me, to value the here and now and reach out to those who have depleted their personal resilience resources.

It was a typical Saturday. I was high on life and ready to celebrate friend’s birthday and her impending baby’s arrival. I headed for the train station. The total journey time from East to West London on the train: no longer than 1 hour and 15 minutes.

I arrived at my local train station to find something wrong but wasn’t sure what that was. No one was entering the station despite the doors open and all appearing normal. Within seconds it became clear – people were leaving the station in various states of shock and hysteria.

Many of them had just witnessed a “jumper’ (definition- someone who chooses to end their life by way of jumping in front of a train) while some had to walk past the scene of the carnage on what became an expected and rather unpleasant, exit from the station.

I hadn’t witnessed it first hand (and I am grateful for that) but those who had, had the story written on their faces and it wasn’t one I’d want to carry with me. I stood amidst the confusion for what seemed like a long time wondering if I could help and wondering if I should continue my journey (which, remember, should have been 1 hour and 15 minutes long under usual circumstances).

Before long there were 3 ambulances and 4 police cars, the nearby bus stops were growing in the number of passengers; those who had to evacuate the station and those who now could not make the journey they’d planned and needed to find alternative routes.

The road directly opposite the station was closed meaning buses were not coming at the expected intervals. Early stage chaos was commencing……I should have headed home and surrendered my plans for the evening.

I stood there taking it all in – the shock and disbelief on the faces of those who had just been party to this horror of horrors, standing beside those who were innocently wandering towards the station making guesses amongst themselves about what seemed to be going on, including blasé comments about ‘not another jumper’ as if it were a gnat on the car windscreen.

Having considered that I had made a commitment to go to the party, I decided to take a bus to the next station where I could continue my train journey. This is usually a 45 minute bus ride.

Long story short for me, after 1.5 hours on a bus with a swelling number of passengers, and still not half way to my destination I retreated and headed back home. By this time the buses in both directions were full to the brim and on a hot summer’s evening the idea of getting on one held little appeal. I decided to walk and walk and walk.

My story has a happy ending. I got to exercise by walking a few miles and was able to call in a favour from a friend who picked me up at a location that was less busy and frantic. She made me some dinner and we spent a few hours catching up. My evening turned out really well aside from not getting to the party.

At the other end of this story is the tale of a life ended in a split second. Of a woman who’s mental state was in such a poor place that her priority for that day was to wait until the train was in view and choose her time to jump. That sickened me to the core. One of the staff at the station mentioned to me that this happens every 3 to 4 weeks.

Just let that sink in. Someone feels so lost and dissatisfied that they plan to step in front of a train and bring it quite literally, to a halt. They’ve lost all hope and no longer have a fight in them.

We never fully know what is going on for other people. We might assess that the are ‘feeling a bit bad’ when in fact they may be heading towards a drastic and final solution. If we can spot this we can help them through it.

Everything is fixable.

No one who lives in a developed country with a welfare state and access to food, shelter, mental health support and friendship should reach that point of no return. Life can seem overwhelming at times. In fact we need to learn to build more resilience in our modern world both at home and in the workplace.

Make your gesture and intervene when you even sense a small change in someone. Make sure they are ok. Even if it’s not your style and you choose a ‘mind your own business’ approach. In my humble opinion I’d prefer to be seen as a busy body for asking, rather than a mourner wishing I could have done more to help. I wonder if the woman who jumped will have someone somewhere wishing and praying they could turn back the clock. We all have different level of resilience, and can learn how to build even more.

I apologize if I sound like I am preaching to the converted, and it is your nature to reach out to others in need.

I truly and wholly believe, we here to be of service to each other. We do not exist in isolation. We are part of a whole. Because we have easy access to life’s necessities we can forget sometimes the interdependencies on each other and can end up isolated and hopeless.

For me, when you hurt, I hurt, when you celebrate, I celebrate. You may be the only person who shows someone that the world is worth living in.

Alternatively, if you are feeling bad, let others come to your aid and support you to find the resilience and fight you need. Sometimes the darkest moments act as reminders of what a gift life is.

Do you want to know more about building your own personal resilience or resilience in the workplace? Contact me for more information about how I can help.