If you are reading this, you are resilient. You have survived everything life has placed in your path. It may not have been easy, but you are hardwired to overcome obstacles.
However, from the moment we come into our human experience, we start learning things that restrict our direct access to that inner reservoir of resilience. We are told stories by our caregivers, our community and society at large. They attempt to create containers of safety, both real and imaginary, but do not always succeed.
Some of those stories are helpful: look both ways before crossing the street! Hot things will burn your skin; don’t run with scissors. Some of what we’re told isn’t true: boys don’t cry; girls should be demure; our outward appearance defines our worthiness.
Most of what we hear wasn’t originally intended to harm us. Over time, though, we became separated from the context, and those “truisms” are often repeated through generations without question, because that’s the way we’ve always done it.
Rewriting the stories that no longer serve us, and perhaps never did, can help us uncover the resilience we were born to claim. This is both challenging and rewarding work that’s nearly impossible to do on our own. No matter how much we want to change, we are still looking at ourselves through colored lenses and reflected in a distorted mirror. With the assistance of a skilled friend, therapist, partner, guide, or other relationship with healthy boundaries, we can begin to hear how those stories sound spoken by another voice.
In my last article (the Shuttle, March 2020), I wrote about the somatic consequences of having received the message that “dumb should hurt.” I’d never really questioned that quip, or how I might be teaching it to — or using it against — other people.
When my own somatic therapist said to me “What a horrible thing to say to a child!,” I realized he was absolutely right. That outside perspective allowed me to recognize how it impacted my life, to strive not to repeat it, and to change that story into a helpful one. Now I can easily accept that I couldn’t possibly know everything or do everything perfectly on the first try. “Dumb” is only what we are when we haven’t learned differently — and we can always learn new things. That process, though uncomfortable, does not require pain.
A resilient way of moving was always inside me; it was only temporarily hidden by words that were not mine to carry or repeat. In discovering our truest, most authentic selves, without the restrictions of the stories we have inherited, our resilience has the opportunity to reach its greatest potential. We can learn to live with joy, serve the greatest good, and more easily recognize when the world tries to hide our light again.
Trudi Dixon, a Certified Somatic Therapist, is currently offering virtual services on a love-offering basis through her practice, Living Inspired Wellness.