Updated: May 21, 2021
"The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.” (Proverbs 24:16, NLT)
The Bible has some things to say on building resilience. It even offers some great characters that may serve as examples. We’ll look at some of those in future posts. But first there are two elements of understanding we need to be aware of. One is a realization and the other is a foundation. Today I'll focus on the realization.
The realization we need to understand and accept is this: Our emotions and behaviors are triggered not by events themselves but by how we interpret those events. Please read that again and read it slowly. Do you get it? It’s not the event we react to, it is our interpretation of the event that determines our response and therefore our ability to bounce back...or not.
This realization is actually pretty huge. Most people, when an event happens, such as a car accident, the loss of a job, etc., they automatically interpret that event in a certain way. But upon reflection, there is a process we follow in interpreting events. It goes something like this: “A” stands for Adversity (the event), “B” stands for Beliefs (how we interpret the event) and “C” stands for Consequence (the conclusion we arrive at).
An event happens, which is an “A” and automatically we go to “C”, the consequence. We don’t recognize that there is a “B” for beliefs that it also goes through. This is where we interpret events to decide the consequence. We don’t pause long enough in the "beliefs" to examine them to see if they are accurate or not.
In coaching, this is called a “blind spot” or a “defense mechanism” at worst. At best it is a “self-limiting belief” that is controlling our behaviors. Each of these need to be brought into the light and examined. This is very important for our understanding of why some people seem more resilient than others. It could be that it all comes down to how they interpret those events.
Some self-limiting beliefs have scripts that run continually through our mind such as, “I’ll never be good at math.” That was actually one of mine. It got there when I was in elementary school and I needed help with a math problem. My mom tried to help me but she didn’t know what to do. She ended up saying, “You’ll never be good at math. I couldn’t ever do math so you can’t either.” It was just a careless statement but one that lodged itself in my head and I just accepted it. So when a math problem came up, and I had trouble with it (like everyone else learning math) I was convinced that I couldn’t do it. For you it may not be math, it may be learning a new skill or changing a habit.
Back to my math issue: The question I needed to ask was: “Is that statement true?” “Is that accurate?” Well, it was true that my mother had trouble with math, but did that mean I would have trouble with math because she did? Not necessarily. However, I concluded that if she were my tutor, I would have a lot of trouble with math!
I asked my best friend if his parents were any good at math and would they help? His dad was a math whiz. I discovered my problem with math was not genetic (also I was adopted) but with my tutor mom. A few years later, with the encouragement of my college roommate, I ended up getting the equivalent of a minor in math at college; taking trigonometry, calculus and physics. So much for self-limiting beliefs! Well, at least in that area.
Once you start discovering that your interpretation of events, or yourself, or your habits, or your generally accepted beliefs are not accurate, it can set off a bit of a personal earthquake. It’s okay to question. It’s the people who ask the questions that get the answers.
If you’re thinking about “giving up” in life, or even in one area of your life, think again. Examine the thoughts that are running through your mind. Are they true? Are they accurate? Are they valid? Are they really? One of the traps we fall into is when something is partly true and we make it wholly true. I had trouble with math. That was true. Does that mean I could never be good at math? Absolutely not. Do you see how deceptive these interpretations and thoughts can be?
That’s why it's good to have someone to bounce these thoughts and interpretations of off. Maybe enlisting a coach is a good idea. It might save you a lot of pain and disappointment.