Seven Factors Comprising Resilience
Linda: A piece of clay sat in the potter’s studio. Everyday, it watched as the potter picked up another piece of clay and transformed it into a beautiful vase. Feeling jealous, the clay shouted, “Pick me! I want to be a vase, too!”
One day, the potter picked up the piece of clay. Excitedly, the clay exclaimed, “Today, I will be a vase!” The potter proceeded to pound the clay on a tray. Then he cut the clay into strips and kneaded it. The clay said, “What are you doing? This is abuse! Put me back on the shelf.”
But the potter just kept on going and began to spin the clay on a wheel until it was totally dizzy. Finally, the potter stopped. Breathing a sigh of relief, the clay declared, “Thank God, it’s over.” But no sooner had the words been formed than the potter put the clay in the kiln and baked it alive. When the potter removed the clay from the oven, the clay ranted and raved, “How dare you!”
Next, the potter covered the clay with a glaze that made the clay feel uncomfortable and tight. Then he put the clay back in the kiln to be baked again. The clay despaired, “I won’t make it another step.” Finally, the clay was removed from the kiln and placed on a shelf, where it began to pray, “please leave me alone and never come back. I don’t want any more abuse.” But a little while later, the potter came back anyway.
“Stay away from me! Don’t you dare touch me!” cried the clay. “I can’t believe what you’ve put me through!”
The potter replied, “Do you want to see yourself?”
The clay said, “Leave me alone. I don’t want to go anywhere with you!”
Very gently, the potter said, “Look,” then held the clay up to the mirror. The clay saw that it was now a beautiful vase. The potter said, “This is exactly what you asked for. You asked to be transformed into a vase. You just wanted to wake up one day and be a vase, but that’s not the way it works. This is what it takes, clay. You have to go through all those steps.”
Like the clay vase, we may secretly or even openly long to become stronger and more beautiful inside and out. Then when life hands us the experiences that will shape us into who we can become, we often resist. We might even hate the process while we are suffering.
We often feel like the vase in the kiln that we are being baked alive, angry at our predicament or angry at who we believe is victimizing us. There are ways in which we can move through any ordeal that life hands us to make the suffering more bearable, even in the midst of the painful experience. Consider the following factors.
- We can adopt an orientation that embedded in the trauma, tragedy, or loss is opportunity
- Sense of Humor
- Purpose and Meaning
- Spiritual Orientation
- Reframing adversity as opportunity for growth
- Gratitude is counting one’s blessings. It is more than a feeling. It is a chosen attitude toward life.
In the middle of the trauma, we may not be able to remember these factors. The immediate misery can feel like torture, and the best we can hope for is to just get through it. But at the first possible moment that we can reframe the trouble as a possibility for growth, we are well on our way to developing resilience, which is a major component of our most dazzling beauty.
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