Resilience requires willingness.  Our stories of misfortune do not have to define us.

Louise Hay, often described as the founder of the self-help movement has resilience. She was an abused child without a high school education who now in her eighties, heads the publishing empire Hay House.   Nelson Mandela had resilience. He was imprisoned in South Africa for 27 years and became President of South Africa and overthrew apartheid.  These are stunning examples of resilience.  Resilience is what allows us to thrive. Resilience is a tough word.  To me, the word implies someone who has been through battle, had a tough life and has somehow made it through and come out better on the other end.

So you may be wondering, What’s resilience have to do with me?” Hay and Mandela are more alike than different.  Each had both resilience and willingness. They were each willing to thrive, to fully use and fully develop their gifts and talents. They were not willing to play small or “to hide their light under a bushel.”

The transgressions against each of these individuals were real and can be seen and documented. They transcended instead of becoming victims of their circumstances.  Sometimes the transgressions in our own lives are not so obvious to others or even to ourselves. We develop internal prisons in our mind to keep us small and safe.

Resilience allows you to play big

What allows some us to fully use our gifts and talents and others to play small? As a coach, I’ve met many women like Missy. A young woman with a beautiful face, I’ll call her Missy, has been living with her parents since birth except for a few short years.  She has been loyal to her mother, feeling that her mother needs her and would be severely hurt if Missy moved out. Missy did not even go to college because studies would take too much time away from her mother.  Missy at 37 does not know who she is or what she wants.  She does not want to be disloyal and has yet to understand that her sacrificing her life does not help either her or her mother.  Missy is now terrified and resistant to stepping out of her comfort zone and creating the life she wants.  She can’t even imagine a life she wants.

Missy’s ability to transform from the life she is living, to the life she wants, requires her ability to transcend from that place of playing small to a place of being at peace with herself and the world. Her ability depends on her willingness.  It’s as simple as saying I am willing, no matter how scared or how full of doubt you are, no matter what those negative voices in the back of your head say. Sometimes it takes being willing to be willing.  I know that’s where I started.

Some women like Missy will on to thrive and turn their life around.  Some will not.  Resilience requires willingness.  Our stories of misfortune do not have to define us.  We may feel we have a right to hold onto our anger, our feelings of being betrayed or our misfortunes. Is this a place where you want to stay, to live for the rest of your life?

Resilience Requires Willingness

Willingness is the key. Resilience is the antidote. The good news is that Missy just like you has a choice.  You may not be able to see the choice or even realize one is there, but you always have a choice.  Resilience requires willingness.

By midlife, you’ve had disappointments some small and some not so small.  You’re busy, and you’re reasonably successful and reasonably happy, but are you playing small?  What is keeping you from thriving?  Is it that offhand comment a teacher or parent or spouse made about your lack of abilities that you took to heart even though they were having a bad day and may not even remember saying that or they told everyone the same thing?  Is it a fear of being disloyal, of rocking the boat, of not being liked or outshining others that keeps you playing small?

Getting to resilience is like a dog crossing an invisible fence.  It is painful but possible.  The good news for us is that we can. When we make a different choice, we begin the process of rewiring our neural pathways, each time it becomes easier.  We are only truly safe when we no longer need to protect ourselves.  Are you willing to be resilient to move through whatever is holding you back from creating the life you want?  It won’t be easy, but the rewards are worth it.  Resilient women survive and thrive. Resilience is the antidote. Willingness is the first step.