Learning from my own resilience

September 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

Building on my previous post on resilience, I want to look at community resilience from the viewpoint of what I know about my own personal resilience.

My working definition of community resilience as the ability of a group of people sharing a geographical or other identity to manage, respond to and emerge from community-wide shocks or suffering.

If I reflect on my own resilience, my thoughts are:

My capacity for resilience fluctuates – in other words, it’s not something like, say, a hammer which once bought is pretty much always there, unchanging and available as needed.

I need others sometimes to help me find my resilience. One way of doing this is for me to watch when they are in my eyes acting resiliently, and to seek inspiration in their behaviour.

I can act in a resilient way even if I don’t feel very resilient. Is this just a deeper layer of resilience, which I need at times to dig deep for? In any event, at times I am like a bumblebee: science may say I can’t fly, but I sometimes I can fly only because I think I can.

For me, my resilience is fundamentally a mental rather than a physical quality. Physical well-being and exercise play their part in nurturing resilience. But it feels more that my resilience is about my will and belief to keep going regardless of my physical condition. And as part of my resilience relates to my Crohn’s Disease (an inflammatory bowel disease), the ability to find courage, strength and persistence in times of less-ability is crucial.

Again for me, my resilience to keep going is linked to my values and my beliefs. Resilience gives me courage to work for things in the future because they seem worthwhile to strive for, not necessarily because they have a good chance of succeeding.

***

If I take this into communities, perhaps the following might be helpful comparators:

If my own resilience fluctuates, my guess is that that’s true for others and on a bigger scale when applied to members of a community. This probably makes it all the harder to predict how a community may react, or to be confident in the durability of any one-off assessment of the community’s resilience.

Community members can act as inspirations for each other, enabling them to take steps they wouldn’t normally take (this can lead to negative as well as positive behaviours, of course).

And one way for community members to build resilience is by getting to know each other, building relationships and getting through tougher times together.

I finished the previous blog by wondering if resilience was about ordinary people, doing extraordinary things in extraordinary times. I might now add that they are relying on relationships created in ordinary times but which stand firm in extraordinary times.

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