Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Resilience; Finding Our Way Home

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Do you ever wonder how some folks can find their way home, no matter what?

In the classic book on creativity, Learning by Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit, by Corita Kent and Jan Steward, there is a story of a little boy whose life was filled with sadness and dislocation. His class had a special assembly where the children read their autobiographies. When it was his turn he positively glowed, as he began to read his story with pride, “I came from Chicago with my mother and my cat... My life is very hard to do...” Although his life was hard to do, this child had resilience. He was radiant with it.
In thinking about the difficulties, stresses, and trauma that people go through in a lifetime, I have begun to wonder about resilience, what causes some folks to survive and even thrive after traumatic life circumstance. What do these folks have in common and how can we encourage resilience in our selves.
Charles R. Figley, Ph.D., an expert in trauma and resilience at Florida State University believes he can narrow resilience down to seven components that can be practiced and exercised. They include
1. Insight - a willingness to ask and / or answer difficult questions with honesty.
2. Independence - the ability to distance oneself emotionally and physically from the sources of trouble in one's life.
3. Relationships - the ability to make fulfilling connections to other people.
4. Initiative - a willingness to take charge of problems.
5. Creativity - using imagination and expressing oneself in art forms.
6. Humor - the ability to see the comic within the tragic.
7. Morality - a willingness to act on the basis of an informed conscience.

So to play with these components of resilience and to perhaps strengthen my own while I'm at it, I am working on an e-zine on resilience, "FINDING OUR WAY HOME WHEN OUR LIVES GET HARD TO DO."

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I find playing with old photos in photoshop a very interesting way to play with all 7 components. So try this: Find kid-pictures of yourself and your beloved and put yourselves into an interesting collaged environment. Look for insights in what you create, distance, relationship, initiative, humor, informed conscience, and of course creativity!

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