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Resilience isn’t a Personality Trait. It’s a Human Given.

by Dr. Amy Johnson on November 30, 2017

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I was talking with some friends recently about a mutual friend of ours. 

Our mutual friend had a tough year. Shocking divorce. Health issues. A temporary slip back into depression and old, addictive patterns used to numb that depression.

We all agreed: Our friend has really gone through the lowest of the low. He was not in a good way.

And although we felt loads of compassion and love for him this past year, we never truly worried about him. He knows his design. Through all he’s experienced, he’s known that he is fundamentally well.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that he’s felt well. He definitely has not felt well for much of this year. He had many moments of not wanting to be alive—probably many more than he shared with us.

But even when he was feeling like he didn’t want to go on, somewhere deep down he knew he did. He knew that each time the suicide thoughts came up and he didn’t follow through, that was his true self—wisdom—leading the way.

Even when he felt as if he’d never bounce back, something deep within him suspected he would.

That feeling versus knowing difference is everything. It’s what an accurate understanding of who-you-really-are-and-how-your experience-really-works does for you.

You get to feel any feeling possible without it meaning anything about your nature or your future. Your experience is closer to that of a child. Deep and raw, but present and relatively story-free.

You get to feel broken, but at the same time know that broken isn’t possible.

You get to feel lost and as far from health as a person can be, and still know that resilience is your nature. It is an immutable part of the human design.

It has nothing to do with you. If our friend believed resilience was up to him he would have had no hope at all. His self-esteem—his thoughts and opinions of his personal identity—were in the toilet. He would have never believed that he was resilient.

It’s not that resilience was a personality trait he possessed. It’s that humans are resilient by design, all of us equally. He’s resilient because he’s alive.

Same with you. When I talk about things like resilience, clarity, and wisdom, I’m not attributing those qualities to your personal identity. I have no idea if those are personality traits you happen to display.

I am talking about them in that they are woven into the fabric of who we all are, by nature. They are part of the real you, the deeper you, the part we all share.

They are the part of you that doesn’t take a hit when your self-esteem or nice feelings plummet.

Because we are spiritual beings constantly thinking up our experience of life…and because those thought-created experiences are fleeting and impermanent…we are resilient.

Our friend knows enough about being human to know that he couldn’t trust his thinking when his mind was telling him he’d be better off dead.

He wasn’t responsible for being resilient; he simply got to experience resilience as it bubbled to the surface. So he knew enough to hang out and wait.

Regardless of the suffering you are experiencing, resilience and peace are waiting to rise up, always. Knowing this is the definition of freedom.

You can feel things without being things.

This is why my friends and I (who are blessed to have glimpsed these truths about life) weren’t worried for our mutual friend. Not really.

It’s why I rarely worry about my clients. I’m not worried when someone who is free of a habit or addiction and falls back into it for a bit. I’m not rattled by any experience someone has, especially when they’ve glimpsed their resilient design.

There is nothing to worry about when you know that you are designed like a beach ball. No matter how long you’ve been held under the water, it’s in your fundamental nature to eventually pop back up to the surface.  

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