Resilience

Eric Freed

One of my best racing friends decided not to live anymore after suffering paralyzing injuries during a race. He was a tough guy. But even tough guys struggle with resilience.

Bad stuff happens and we lose control of the things we thought we could control, like our legs or our future or our safety. Tough people like to go through life with a sense of control over their situation, but resilience breaks down when a person no longer feels that control.

When disaster strikes, there are steps to take to regain a feeling of control and maintain resilience.

  • Identify how you feel. It’s probably shitty, and things really are that bad. Don’t try to be positive for others, cuz they already know your life sucks. Honesty is the best medicine.
  • Don’t play the victim. Victims are inherently helpless. Feeling victimized is a choice, and it’s always a lousy choice.

    This is not to deny the experience and how devastating it is; it is to accept the experience on the deepest level as your own possession now… Instead of allowing it to be a tap that drains you, you can force it into duty in service to your creative or intellectual goals.[1]

    Exploit the situation. Use the new information to learn something.

    If you can’t learn anything, at least chalk it up to a character-building exercise.

  • Be proactive. Instead of worrying about the things you can’t control, focus on the things you can. Help others.

    Helping someone else is the best way to ensure your own survival. It takes you out of yourself. It helps you to rise above your fears. Now you’re a rescuer, not a victim. [2]

Last year, another friend in our racing club sustained a similar injury (it’s a sad fact of our sport that some members endure life-changing/-ending injuries every year). He tried not to worry about what he could no longer control, like his bowel movements, but worked on what he could control, like his relationships with friends and family.

The most resilient people I know have all had some pretty rough lives. That’s how they learned to be so resilient.

20130703-211904

References:
1. Cover This Is How Augusten Burroughs

2. 9780393083187

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