I spend a lot of my time thinking about and creating tools and strategies for people to cultivate resilience. My life’s work is a culmination of 20 plus years in the personal growth/development and spirituality field which has most recently manifested as the 7 Pillars of Resilience.
I recently did an extended FB live inside my group Radical Resilience about the pillars, what they are, how they were created, and how to begin integrating them into your life. I believe in this work with my whole heart and I know that regardless of whether you are going through something massive like losing a loved one, a job, a relationship, or simply navigating your way through the day to day of being alive, this system works.
That said, I did think it was necessary to address what we go through and how we respond in the initial shock of the sudden and unexpected loss or change.
It isn’t that the pillars don’t apply in these scenarios, I just believe its good to provide some insight and guidelines based on what I have seen, and experienced both with myself and with my thousands of students and clients.
When something comes out of left field and blindsides us, most of us have a sort of go-to coping mechanism for dealing with the shock. And I will say, usually what we default to, isn’t all that useful. It can take the edge off initially, and then we do have to take a second to just acknowledge and be with what’s happened before we begin to transition into working the pillars.
If you know me or have read my stuff in the past, you know that I am no stranger to sudden unexpected twists and turns. My dad passed away in an instant and nobody saw it coming. My ex-husband told me he didn’t want to be married quite suddenly and again, not a soul that knew us would have expected that. Most recently I had a turn of events professionally that has left many people quite literally in a state of disbelief with their jaw on the ground. I share this to give you a frame that I get it when it comes to unexpected shifts.
I recently had a conversation about this very topic with a woman I refer to as my adopted mom who has been such a source of strength and unconditional love in my life.
An incredible practitioner in the mental health field, she had experienced a very similar scenario to mine in her professional arena about seven months ago.
We both agreed that no matter who you are and how you try to rationalize what has happened or make “sense” of it, it is really fucking hard and for many of us in this industry, whether in the mental health space, coaches, healers, teachers, or spiritual guides, we tell ourselves it shouldn’t be as hard. As a result, we try and “tool” and “technique” our way out of the absolute devastation of the initial blow. I know I certainly have. That and as I mentioned previously, we have our go-to default mode.
For me, I go into what I refer to as “warrior mode”. I get uber focused on what needs to be done and immediately start crafting strategies and getting to work. I typically don’t pause to even take a breath much less actually acknowledge that something incredibly significant has happened, and I run around telling everyone that I am fine…I am really fine.
The great thing about having an amazing tribe of sisters who are willing to call you on your shit is that when you run your old crazy patterns, they let you know. So most recently when I got into that mode the day after the proverbial shit hit the fan, my dear friend Lisane Basquiat (who never lets me get away with anything and I love her for it) said: “Pegah nobody doubts that you are going to come through this and be more than ok, but have you actually taken a second to just acknowledge to yourself that you’re going through something really big here?”
The instant she said that all my armor came crashing down around me and I burst into tears. I had run myself into a state of exhaustion in just one day and I realized that if I kept going at that pace without leaning into the myriad of emotions that needed to be processed, I would most certainly burn out and probably get injured or sick.
I am so grateful for her, and for that breakdown.
As strong, ambitious, high-achieving people, the go-to response is usually armor and action and what I needed was to pause and acknowledge my vulnerability. What I needed was to feel and not think.
So, ever since that moment, even as I continue to forge onward crafting and creating what’s next, I work the hell out of these pillars that created and teach and I allow myself to let all the feelings come up, move through, and move out. I have found that when we don’t do that, is when we create baggage that will bite us in the ass later.
So dear one, I ask you to consider what your go-to responses and default mechanisms are when you are caught off guard or blinded sided with some sudden unexpected change or loss. Are those usual modes of operating serving you? How could you shift into a softer more feminine energy and allow yourself the gift of vulnerability and feeling versus thinking and maneuvering?
Take some time to journal about it and share your insights here. You can always share your thoughts in the Facebook group as well. If you are not already a member, just look up Radical Resilience Group and send a request to be added. The group is an incredible space of love and support and the members are really really active. I would love to see you there or hear from you in any way see fit.
From my loving heart to yours…