Community and personal resilience

Being resilient is awful. Being encouraged to be resilient tends to mean making yourself keep going when you don’t really have the resources. Be that time, energy, money, health, bodily strength – keeping pushing on when you don’t have enough to push with is soul destroying. The longer you have to do it, the more damage you take. If you are well enough resourced to deal with a thing then you aren’t being resilient by dealing with it, you’re coping just fine.

Difficulty and challenge are inevitable. We all face setbacks. We all get knocked down. Having to pick yourself up and trudge on is not the only answer. Resilience is something we should be doing collectively. If we help each other, then it will less often be the case that the person who is least able to cope is obliged to bear the weight of a thing.

In a resilient community, people support each other and cover for each other. You do what you find easiest for yourself and others, and maybe someone else can pick up the thing you find prohibitively difficult. Or at least you don’t have to do it alone, if it is unavoidable. Rather than finding individual solutions to problems, we become each other’s solutions. Of course this depends on people being kind to each other, and being honest about what they can and cannot do. When we see it as an honour to help those around us, not an imposition, everything changes.

Imagine instead of having to crawl back up when you’ve been knocked down, being lifted by those around you. Imagine finding the ways in which you are especially capable and can help others. When we all lean a little on each other, we are collectively stronger than we could ever have been while standing alone.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

4 responses to “Community and personal resilience

  • alainafae

    I think I agree with your sentiments though framed a bit differently. What I feel you describe in the first paragraph focuses more on persistence rather than resilience, with persistence being a quality of resilience but not necessarily the other way around. My understanding of resilience is that it *is* the ability of an individual or group to cope with setbacks. Being told to persist alone when the personal ability to cope is not there, like telling a poor person or someone struggling with mental health to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” (dunno if that’s just an American turn of phrase), has the effect of being dismissive & cruel, more often than not. Being told to persist in the same action with the same parameters and expecting a different outcome is to encourage insanity. We’re told to admire persistence in such forms as perfectionism or workaholics, “Look at what they accomplished! Oh and as a side note they spent months or years in horrible depression.. but look what they accomplished!”. What I think we need is to shift the balance away from the glimmer of hero worship and toward the less flashy but tranquil state that group resilience brings.

    • Nimue Brown

      Thank you for this – I wasn’t totally sure about the language, but then, more nuance is pretty much always required 🙂 A really good point about how resilience/persistence intersects with toxik work culture.

  • Laura Morrigan

    It makes me sad that communities are no longer really there to support those within (except occasionally coming together after great natural disasters). In our distant past we would have been supporting those who could not work, they would have inherent value whether telling stories to the children, teaching handicrafts… something. Now our value is the money we make, humans have a monetary value. It makes me so mad! I definitely get the feeling of fighting through day by day and how exhausting it is.

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