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Mourning the Loss of Resilience

July 29, 2020

Our nation is mourning the loss of civil rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis.
As I watched his casket cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the final time, the very bridge he marched every year in the peaceful pursuit of ending racial segregation since the 1960s, I reflected on his powerful presence and mindful response to the many adversities he faced. His dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles penetrated partisan politics and united all as the conscience of the U.S. Congress.

Loss is an inherent part of our human experience. From losing jobs to kids leaving home and moving; to loss of friends and loved ones, freedoms lost to obligation or circumstances, and sometimes loss of physical and mental abilities.

Whether you are an active caregiver, your family’s caregiver, or have sole responsibility to care for yourself, taking time to mindfully mourn and manage life’s losses and transitions is essential to maintaining your well-being and building resilience.

Life is going to hit the fan. This is why I wrote When Life Hits the Fan, a mindful guide to caring for yourself while caring for others. Here are some mindful practices from my book to will help you create resilience when life meets fan:

Manage Emotional Triggers
We encounter triggers are those little things that set us off, causing an array of emotions ranging from joy to excitement, frustration, anger, or depression. They happen throughout our day, and sometimes we respond to them more skillfully than at other times.

Maybe it’s when a driver cuts us off in traffic; the neighbor’s dog is barking; an off-handed comment from a co-worker annoys us, or we find a perfect sand dollar on the beach.

When we are triggered negatively, we can shift our focus slightly away from what triggered us to feel the weight of our feet on the floor, or to our breathing.

This shift allows our mind to settle down, refocus, and not be distracted by our emotions in the moment.

We can adopt a gentle acceptance of our emotional response. Instead of fighting against the trigger, we can recognize it, and by doing so, minimize its hold on us.

This gives us space to be more skillful in the conversation, allowing the emotion to pass through us rather than fighting it.

Shift How You Frame It
When you feel stress building, take notice. A mindful pause or laughter can interrupt the spiral and help you regain control of your emotions.

Change Your Focus
For me, taking a deep breath always works. It stimulates the vagus nerve and helps calm my mind to focus on what’s next. Other useful ways to refocus include yoga, stretching, looking out the window or at a treasured object or the thought of a loved one.

I hope you’ve found these practices useful. Please let me know which ones work for you. If you’d like to learn more about emotional triggers and how to manage them, download our free e-book on Managing Emotional triggers.

I’ll leave you with one final way to build your resilience from U.S. Rep. John Lewis, get into some good trouble, necessary trouble.

(video of Rep. John Lewis at #Selma50 from Georgia Democrat on Vimeo.)

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