As a new friend and I exchanged our life stories she said ‘Robbi you’re one of the most courageous and resilient women I know’ – I couldn’t help but laugh. I said “really? why would you think that?” and continued laughing as the idea to me seemed quite absurd at the time.
You see I didn’t see my own strength, I didn’t see my own resilience, after all it was just my life and I believed others had experienced far greater trauma and hardships - what I saw reflecting back on my life was a lot of distress, failure and fear and that thankfully I somehow just ‘got through’.
I have always admired people who have achieved great heights, or overcome great adversity; I haven’t experienced a spinal cord injury in an accident, I haven’t overcome the challenges of competing as an Olympic athlete, I haven’t been part of a terrorist bombing, I haven’t lost a child to cancer; there’s so many things that haven’t happened to me and this created the belief that as a result I was not a brave, resilient, strong woman.
What I now know is that when we compare ourselves to others, or live by what our culture or society considers as overcoming hardship, we can diminish the value of our own experiences and may think we are ‘less than’ just because our lives aren’t sensational book reading material or written up in women’s magazines. The relevance of resilience is personal and subjective; it’s not about whose achieved the most or overcame the most, we all need resilience for our everyday lives and life events and we need to consciously and actively cultivate resilience on a daily basis.
These days I believe my life’s experiences are valuable, first of all they’re valuable to me as I’ve expanded as a result of them and then they are of value to others when I share them and the insight gained. There always seems to be one person who’ll say, ‘I never knew, I thought it was just me, I don’t feel so alone now…’
Our stories are just that, stories, until we glean the gift from them, until we allow the experiences to shift and shape us into the brightest version of ourselves. I agree when we’re in the midst of experiencing challenging times it’s easy to feel that this is who you are, but through pain, through awareness, through forgiveness (of ourselves and others) there is a point of choice where we get to decide whether the experience defines who we are from that point forward, or whether we decide to let our response to it define who we are.
To let you in on a little secret, there is no statute of limitations that says you must get the understanding and grow from it immediately or within a certain time frame. It is never too late to choose who you wish to be in the world in spite of your experiences. Instead it’s about what we do with the pain of life that we experience, we can either let it ‘crush us or create us’ – and resilience is key.
“Resilience is what gives us the opportunity to create our greatest selves.” – Robbi Mack
What life experiences have you under-valued that has given you the opportunity to be bigger than you were before? How you can you bring your greatest self to your daily environment? Who can you share with that would let someone know they are not alone? Value your life experiences and own the strength, resilience and wisdom they have given you.