Recently, in a mom therapy group, our facilitator spoke to us about resiliency. She asked, “What can we do to help our children be resilient?” The current generation of teenagers has some of the lowest resiliency rates we’ve ever seen; anxiety and depression rates are through the roof. What can we do to set the next generation up for success?
You may think of yoga, meditation, therapy, nutrition, time outside, and all the other elements of self-care. These things certainly help, but they are not the secret sauce. Our counselor showed us all the research, and it points to a simple idea: The secret sauce is failure.
We come resilient through a process of rift and repair. Rift is an event which takes us away from what we are seeking. Rifts can occur in our relationships with our goals, ourselves, or other individuals. Repair is the event which puts things back together. It’s tempting to avoid this process.
In yoga, we have the words “raga” and “dvesha” or “attachment” and “aversion.” I like to call them “pull” and “push.” In our bodies, we’re far better at pushing than we are at pulling. We can get the full force of our strength and body weight behind a pushing movement. Just ask the pull up bar: we aren’t so good at this part. The same is true in life. We’re excellent at pushing away what can be uncomfortable. We’re so good at it, that it outweighs the pull we may feel toward something we desire.
Pushing away is the root cause of all numbing behavior, including excessive media use, excessive television watching, excessive eating, and all addictions.
As a mom, it’s second nature for me to engage in pushing behaviors on my daughter’s behalf. I will do anything to ensure she doesn’t feel pain. But, in doing so, I’m denying her the secret sauce of resiliency. One of our students recently told me of a Korean saying that has no direct translation but loosely means, “The more you love your kids, the more you let them roll.”
Well, if we do this with our kids, we should do this with ourselves. The more we love ourselves, the more we have to let ourselves roll. We need to roll into failure, let it consume us, and treat it as research on future pursuits.
When we do this, we find our inner support system. We learn about the strength that allows us to meet challenges with resiliency and – maybe, someday – grace.
I remember my last gymnastics meet in sixth grade. I loved the vault, and it was my best event. I took home second place, and I was proud of my ribbon when I got in the car with my Mom. She took me out of gymnastics the next year. She later explained to me how all the other girls presented beautifully, waving and smiling before making their way down the vault runway. I, a lifelong contact-sport athlete, crouched down with my elbows out and my game face on. I just wasn’t meant for such a graceful sport.
And, that may be my lot in this life. I may get pretty damn good at this meditation and yoga game, but I may never make it look graceful. I may also put my game face on before hitting my cushion. I may need my elbows out in order to tap into my inner resiliency.
It doesn’t matter. However you do it, whether you are one of the beautiful girls with the smile and the perfect ponytail or the scrappy one pitting out her leotard, you can run straight for the present moment. You can let yourself roll in it, fall off of it, get bloodied up, and come back for more. This is resiliency.
As we continue to find our inner support system on the mat, try to catch yourself pushing things away in life. See if you can pull instead.