Monday, June 18, 2012

A Healthy Amount of Resiliency

In child development there is a concept called ghosts in the nursery.  It refers to a parent's fears about effectively bonding or child rearing with their child.  Sometimes people may feel that their own parents may not have done the best job at parenting or sometimes people come from complex histories with deep emotional hurts.  They may worry how their past has shaped who they are today and how it will impact their perceived ability to be a good parent.  Just because a person may have less than desirable things in their past does not mean that they will be a poor parent.  Actually, those who can identify the ways in which they would do things differently and make the effort to do them, use the power within themselves to make a difference.  Sure, we are shaped by our experiences, but we are not powerless because of them.  Those who seek to be different have the courage to change.  I think the same could be said across multiple domains of our lives and not just parenting.

For me, there has been a small part wondering if I am broken because of my personal history-- experiences with my ex-husband,  close family members who died when I was a child or other things.  I know I am sensitive and it can create triggers for me.  But, I try to stop and take a step back when I feel that rush of emotion so to avoid projecting my past, like relationship hurts onto another person unfairly.  There are also those childhood fears lurking that can be difficult to let go.  And I've wondered if my past is too much for another man to handle.  Sometimes it makes it difficult for me to trust, to be transparent and to allow myself to initially take the risk to connect with another man in a romantic relationship.  I want a man who can know me, understand from where I am coming, so he can have compassion without feeling sorry for me.  Likewise, I want to be able to do the same for him.  I am not asking for someone to solve any problems, but for me to be able to feel safe being me--all of me--without chasing them away.

And frankly, I have been working very hard to move forward in my life.  It can be a bit tough to see fully at the moment as I continue to seek out full-time job opportunities.  But, I don't want my past to totally define me.  Sure, I want some amount of acknowledgement of the past, but do not ignore the present me and what I dream to be.  I am more.  And I will continue to evolve and change--hopefully growing in the strength, confidence and freedom to let my true self shine.

During one of the professional development sessions at a conference a few weeks ago, one speaker talked about the commonalities found in people who have resilience.  First, resilient people understand that they may not be able to control certain life circumstances, but they do not let those life circumstances control them.  They realize the power within themselves to be able to do something about it--they have choice.  The second quality is in being able to embrace the good and the bad in their lives, while being able to focus more on the good.  It is not ignoring, dismissing or skipping over the bad stuff.  It is taking it all in, but with the redirection on refocusing on the good in their lives with gratitude.  The final part is being able to healthfully seek and appropriately accept the help of others.  We are not in this alone and social connectivity is important, especially in the company of those you love and respect.

Can I do this?  Yes.  The answer is yes because I believe I have the qualities found in resiliency.  Sometimes it may take a bit more effort than other times, but I think it is there.  In my Finish heritage there is a word for it, too.  Sisu.  It is difficult to translate into English because it is such a multidimensional concept.  The simplest way to describe sisu is having inner determination.  It is not just survival, but that step beyond in holding onto hope and living every moment with zest for fulfillment of realizing one's dreams.

It's time to refocus and recapture that sisu!


  1. Everyone has some level of emotional baggage that they carry from all of their past relationships, be they romantic, familial, or friendship. Because we are human, we all have feelings and we leave ourselves open, to some degree, to wounds. As you mature and grow, you figure out how to use these scars to your advantage, to learn from your mistakes or the mistakes of others. I think once you have truly healed those wounds, they won't be such a difficult thing to discuss with another person. They won't have the same hold on your heart that they once did. Sure the wound may bleed again if you reopen it, but hopefully, if you are with the right person, he will have a bandage and some salve handy. Don't just slap any generic adhesive bandage on it, Jamie. Wait for the real one. It will be worth it. :)

  2. Thanks, Diane, for such a thoughtful response! It feels like getting past those last hurdles can be tough right now, but then I try to focus on the good stuff and the posibilities that lay ahead. And I do want to take the right amount of time to meet a special guy who is crazy about me. I'm just itching to get on with it already instead of feeling like I have to wait because I'm trying to get a few things in order first. Thanks for your support and friendship!!!