Have You Made Resilience Redundant? - COTRUGLI
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Have You Made Resilience Redundant?

Why has there been an explosion in interest in developing ‘resilience’ over the past few years? Could it be because, in many people’s lives, there’s a ‘general’ increase in the frequency and intensity of adversity? It seems so. Yet, if we fully understand resilience and adversity it turns out both are based on an illusion! How come? Step right this way!

Where there is a perceived need to be resilient there must be a prior perception of adversity. If you didn’t believe you were experiencing some kind of adversity you would not even think about being more resilient. It’s interesting to note that any perception of adversity is personal. One person’s calamitous disaster is another person’s pinprick. Why so?

Whenever anyone creates a perception of adversity it arises from a belief in loss. They believe they have lost something. The perceived loss can be tangible or intangible. It can be anything from a relationship to a reputation, from a single object to the demise of an organization, from a family member to a ‘lover’, from a few pennies to life savings, from a parking space to the result of a football match.

A perception of loss may also include ‘identifying’ with others’ losses as if they were our own. However, any perception of loss is only possible when there is the belief that ‘I possess’ that particular ‘something’. If there was no belief in personal possession there could be no perception of personal loss.

So when we ‘cry with’ someone who has lost something or someone why would we cry with them if it’s their loss and not mine? It’s not so easy to see but it’s because we ‘identify’ with their loss. Or we identify and become dependent on them being in a ‘happy state’ and their tears mean our dependency is threatened. We are ‘losing’ the happy ‘them’. So we make ourselves unhappy! These are the games of the ego and they infect almost all our relationships to some extent or other.

Shattering the Illusion

Do we ever possess anything or anyone? We are taught to believe we do. But ‘in reality’ do we? Our life experience tells us that everyone and everything comes and goes. Everything that comes to us is temporary. Does anything or anyone stay ‘forever’? Obviously not. But we will ‘cling on’ to some things more than others, some people more than others. This could be called levels of attachment. Any attachment is a sign that we believe in possession.

The clinging, by the way, does not happen physically, it happens mentally. All attachment originates in the mind. That’s why levels of attachment are also subtle. Some attachments are subtler than others e.g. attachment to a house is not as subtle as attachment to a memory. But both attachments are created in the mind.

When we are fully aware and accept that we cannot possess anything or anyone we know that nothing and no one is ever ‘mine’. If we fully realized this then we could never lose anything or anyone. We would never experience a personal loss. So we would never perceive and experience adversity and therefore ‘being resilient’ would not only become redundant, it would be an alien concept, irrelevant to our lives.

Easy yes? No, definitely not!

The Missing Insights

This is often what the EQ community is often missing i.e. the understanding that ALL our emotions arise from this place of the ‘illusion of loss’ within our consciousness. It’s the illusory belief that I possess; that ‘it’ is mine, that ‘they’ are mine, that ‘that’ is mine. We know, but don’t want to admit, that everything and everyone must leave our life one day. We know this is a reality. But we’re lazy and buy into the idea, the belief, that you can have that, you can keep this, you can make this or that, or them, mine.

We then use whatever we mistakenly believe is ‘mine’ to create our comfort zone, to feather our nest. They become our attachments. Not only that but we then make the greatest mistake of all. We use what we believe is mine to define ourselves, to build a sense of ‘who I am’. But it’s just a mistake, a series of mistakes. Little do we realize that we are setting ourselves up for some kind of emotional turmoil when what we believe is mine will inevitably …leave! But instead of working out how to stop making ourselves unhappy most of us will say such emotional turmoil is natural.

Notice how the three primary emotions, namely sadness, fear, and anger, are all created because we ‘believe’ we have lost something, or we are about to lose something and someone else is responsible for our loss and therefore our suffering. Yet all these emotions would be impossible if we really, deeply, profoundly realized nothing and no one is ever mine. That everything and everyone comes and goes in its own season, in their own time!

Definitely not an easy realization to induce! Especially when it comes to family and friends, or with money, or with our home. Just the thought of any one of these leaving our life unexpectedly, even expectedly, causes us to distort the energy of our consciousness into the vibration we call fear, otherwise known as worry. Maybe into sadness if we imagine it’s already happened. Definitely, anger if we perceive someone else is responsible!

Why, because we are living in and from the belief that they/that/it is mine.  We have become dependent on them/it to provide us with our comfort and what we ‘believe’ is our happiness. 

Our Teachers Are All Around Us

Notice when the hurricane arrives and blows every bird’s nest out of the trees the birds don’t sit around wailing and weeping and blaming the hurricane. They don’t mourn the disappearance of their home and take weeks, months, or years to recover from their grief. They don’t feel any need whatsoever to build and strengthen their resilience. They just accept what has happened, build another nest and get on with their life. And when the queen bee dies the bees don’t attend a black tie ceremony and tearfully eulogize her memory. They find another queen, sit her on the throne, and get back to being busy.

Surely the birds and the bees could not have a greater wisdom than us, could they?

That said, some of us do have that more philosophical approach when we say, “Well stuff happens’, that’s life, what do I do next?” That’s not resilience, it’s the realization and the acceptance that we cannot control anyone and we cannot possess anyone or anything, in reality. Then adversity is no longer adversity. It’s just what happens naturally in an uncontrollable and unpossessable world. No more tears, no more fears, and therefore no need to cultivate and strengthen and build and test our resilience.

So we can finally take the ‘must be more resilient’ item off our ‘to-do’ list!

Do I hear you cry, “Not so faaaast! What about life? Surely I can lose my life”.

Well, can you? If you did die what good would resilience be then anyway? Ah yes, but it’s not the actual death that’s the problem, it’s the imagined moment of death that is being used to make ourselves worry. Perhaps make ourselves sad, if we imagine too much! It’s the misuse of our own imagination.

But once the reality of ‘the apparent end’ is accepted there is no fear of death. In reality, it’s not the end of life we fear, it’s the end of ‘my story’ that we fear. It’s the loss of our story in which we are the star. That’s because we create a story throughout our lives filled with our many apparent possessions. So the end of the story seems to be the loss of everything we believe we possess and have used to create pleasure while believing it was happiness. But stories are just memories of past events. And memories of past events are not the reality at this moment.

Perhaps that’s why all the paths of ancient wisdom tried to teach the idea of letting go. Learning not to grasp and hold on to anything or anyone. Including all our memories of anything and anyone. Learning to live fully in the present moment and letting the future take care of itself. As it will anyway, even without us trying to interfere in a way in which we try to hold on to what is not mine.

When all is released from the history book called MINE a graceful exit is possible. Prior to that? Perhaps a more dignified, graceful, and enlightened way of life.

Question: What are the three things you fear losing the most?

Reflection: Imagine you have fully realized they are not yours and must leave your life one day, imagine they are gone, in your imagined scenario what do you feel?

Action: Write a list of all the tangible and intangible things you believe are ‘mine’. Look at the list and ask yourself self ‘Am I sure this is MINE’?

Written by our professor Mike George.