It’s instinctive to harden towards those circumstances and people that are difficult, as a way to mask vulnerability, or keep yourself intact. Meeting challenges head-on is a good instinct to have, facing the threat. Yet, it may not be giving you what you actually need. For many years I “armored up”, toughened myself to hold my limits in place against those who would trample them (and me in the process). I hid my perceived weaknesses behind a well thought out argument, cutting off dialog before we got anywhere near compromise. I made decisions from a place of fear.
And of judgement. Judgement of myself foremost, but judgment of others as well. I wielded it like a shield so I wouldn’t get hurt. Not surprisingly, it didn’t have the intended effect. It drove people away, making them wary of me (at work and at home) making me feel worse about myself (without understanding why). As long as I was making decisions based on fear, I couldn’t see that I was experienced as being inconsistent, no one knew which Carleen they were going to get; reasonable rational Carleen or defensive/offensive Carleen. I thought I was being resilient, when in fact I was being tough. Hard on myself and hard on others.
Toughness was what I thought was called for, but when put in place to shore up fears and judgment it can only hurt, not help, and not heal. How then to get to resilience, without becoming a door mat? Judgement has many synonyms in the dictionary, one of them is discernment. Discernment is based on rational, objective thinking, while judgement is based on assumptions. Healthy boundaries are created with discernment and put in place with compassion, first for yourself, and then for others.
This still requires you to face the threat head on, so there may already be something that is strong in you that can help. The next “move” is to be open and curious about the threat, as that is how you get to discernment. Doing so is also an act of compassion, for yourself and others, allowing you access to more information, so you can more accurately assess what is being called for, and make your needs known to others in ways they understand (even if they don’t agree with you).
Resilience is facing the threat, knowing you will do so with compassion that leads to discernment. Knowing that in discernment you have the tool to make healthy decisions, putting in place boundaries that work. In so doing, giving yourself what you need to be respected, understood, helped and, sometimes, what you need to heal.
“People cry, not because they are weak. It is because they've been strong for too long.” – Johnny Depp
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I believe in giving back to others in many tangible ways. When I learn something new, or see something that might help others, I share it using my blog and website. You can always find my latest blog entries here, on Facebook or Linked In.