The Practice of Resilience

A week ago, I conducted a webinar with former Navy SEAL, Chris Fussell, about the Coronavirus Pandemic. Chris was a speaker at the First Annual Responsive Conference, and we have maintained contact ever since.

I started the interview asking about a longtime curiosity – what makes high performers, like the military special forces – calm under duress? Chris described the intense training Navy SEALs are subjected to, including long periods of sleep deprivation, rigorous physical and mental exercise. But then he went on to say that whether resilience is inherent or learned is debated even within the special forces.

We expect a Navy SEAL to be calm amidst crisis, but for the rest of us, who have not spent our lives preparing for catastrophe, what do we do?

Emotional resilience has been a lifelong practice for me, of necessity, because I have always been very sensitive. As a child, I was always deeply impacted by my surroundings, and it has been the work of more than 2 decades to learn to leverage this as a strength. We are all struggling with the COVID-19 crisis, each of us in our own way. In calls over the last two weeks, several people have asked me for help maintaining a positive outlook. 

For me, the key to resilience is not about always staying positive. Throughout my life, I’ve often gotten overwhelmed! The practice has become picking myself back up again and getting back to work. It is okay to feel discouraged, stressed, and afraid. The solution – the practice of emotional resilience – is to take care of yourself sufficiently so that you can come back ready to try again.

In our interview, Chris also provided one key which got him through Navy SEAL training: helping others. We are all struggling to adapt to a rapidly changing world. The practice is one of getting overwhelmed, working through it, and then – when we can – turning to somebody next to us and offering support.

We don’t know what the world is going to look like on the other side, but by taking care of ourselves first, and then supporting those around us, we can keep practicing resilience together.

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