Discovering Resilience, Connection, and Common Ground.
Where Are You?
“Fight for things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
– Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Each of us has much to share with our world. Our voices matter. For each of us our choices are different. While we are individuals, our voices and our choices are an integral part of the collective oneness of our communities and our world.
Although we live our lives as though we’re separate, many spiritual traditions along with scientific research declare that we are all interconnected. In visible and invisible ways, we are all part of the whole.
We all share the same common ground – our earth. We are forever interconnected with each other and the infinite aspects of life.
In our human-ness, we naturally compartmentalize – we tend toward seeing things from our own perspectives and vantage points. For example, territory, gender, skin color, religious tradition. Typically, we map out our territory, fencing ourselves in and others out, so that we feel safe and protected, with some sense of control over the many uncertainties that confront us.
When we divide ourselves against the “other,” we neglect the commonalities that naturally bind us together. We create conflict that denies the wholeness of our interdependence, the universal life force that gives us breath, and our indomitable spirits.
There are no simple answers to the issues that contribute to the brokenness in our world, and I certainly don’t claim to have them. From my own perspective, we are all connected energetically and my intention is to contribute toward healing and repairing our world.
“As soon as there is awareness of wholeness, every moment becomes sacred, every movement is sacred…
Every action or nonaction will have the perfume of wholeness.”
– Vimala Thakar
As humans, we are inherently resilient. Throughout millennia, humans have faced challenges and responded to them. We have the capacity to grow, act and evolve in ways that contribute toward repairing and healing a world that to many of us feels broken.
Resilience is the capacity to respond to and recover from life’s adversities – to adjust and move forward from our experiences. According to research, resilience is common and ordinary, rather than extraordinary (American Psychological Association, 2012). We can view resilience as a toolbox of skills we can learn, practice, and strengthen. Resilience is not about bouncing back, it’s about going forward.
When things we’re doing aren’t working, we can ask and respond to the question:
“What can I do differently?”
Leaning into our resilience can empower us to shift from the confinements of our challenges to a sense of agency – knowing that we have choices in how we respond (Bandura, 1997).
Here are 3 approaches to help you reach more deeply into yourself and to connect with others, whether or not they see things the way you do.
These approaches may help you discover a path to greater resilience, connectedness, and common ground:
Approach 1: Where are you? We can experience greater calm, compassion, and effectiveness when we approach life more mindfully (Goleman & Davidson, 2017). Strengthen your resilience toolkit by realizing where you are and training yourself to react with greater mindfulness, ease, and calm. Try these 4 simple steps:
- Step A: Sit for a moment in a quiet, safe place.
- Step B: Take a comfortable deep breath and slowly release it.
- Step C: Notice what’s happening in your body and mind. See if you can just notice and soften to it. No need to change anything.
- Step D: Take another comfortably slow, deep breath and feel your body begin to relax.
For more information on mindfulness, click here.
Approach 2: How can you reach across differences? Diversity trainer and UC Berkeley instructor Adrian Michael Green (2019) offers a few tools to help us navigate our differences when we talk with each other:
- Listen to people. Strive to meet people where they are rather than just jumping into what you think and want to say.
- Give people room to speak, trying not to take the things they say personally. Give the other person and yourself the chance “to be messy”, to reflect, and clarify.
- Strive to build bridges, not barriers.
- Don’t hide from discomfort. Instead, lean into uncomfortable conversations, really listening to what people have to say, noticing and labeling your emotions, and noticing what’s happening in your body in an effort to stay in the present moment.
- Before discussions or meetings, create a bit of common ground. It can help to set norms so that participants agree on how they might respond if the conversation gets tense or becomes difficult.
- Listen respectfully; think carefully before you speak.
- Choose your words wisely when you speak or write.
- Be an active voice for equality, reason, and democracy.
- Fight for what’s important while also building relationships and valuing others, whether you agree or disagree.
- Continue to learn and grow throughout your lifetime; take care of your body, your mind, and your spirit.
Consider the question “Where am I?”
What is one approach you might take on your path toward greater resilience, connectedness, or common ground?
Writer’s Note: Thank you Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. May your memory be an inspiration and a blessing. May we carry forward your work toward justice and equality for all.
- American Psychological Association (2012). Building your resilience. Washington DC.
- Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: W.H. Freeman.
- Goleman D. & Davidson, R.J. (2017). Altered traits: Science reveals how meditation changes your mind, brain, and body. New York, NY: Avery.
- Green, A.M. (2019) Five ways to have better conversations across difference: It’s not easy but we can find common ground in difficult conversations.
Copyright © 2020 Ilene Berns-Zare, LLC, All Rights Reserved
Ilene is a Featured Author on PsychologyToday!
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