Fragility and Resilience

Ever injure yourself in a really dumb way? Come on, yes you have. Recent stories I’ve heard from other early-30’s women at my gym: 1. I stepped on a lime and sprained my ankle. 2. I sprained my toe putting on underwear. I mean, this is kind of funny, we joke about getting old and hurting ourselves by like, getting out of bed. But are we really fragile enough that something like that can put us down for the count?


Relatedly: Ever had your day completely ruined by something completely stupid? The restaurant was out of the thing you wanted. Someone forgot your meeting. Someone said something mean. And then suddenly you’re a mess, and you can’t get your mojo back (guilty!).  How can we cope with this? How can we be come resilient, to the physical and the emotional?

Resilience: from Merriam-Webster online:

  • 1: the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress.
  • 2: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.

Ok, yeah. This sounds awesome. Sign me up! Advice for cultivating psychological resilience is generally broad— really broad. Keep a positive attitude! Maintian perspective! Practice self-care! Great, Ok, but how to I put this into practice?

Overall, psychologists believe that resilience can be learned, trained, practiced, and strengthened. This idea is familiar in physical training. We run 5 miles. We lift heavy. Our bodies adapt. That’s one way of thinking about it. Ever do physical therapy, to recover from an injury, or work on preventing future injuries? In my experience, there are two major underlying components: a strong, stable core, and flexibility. We train strength, balance, and mobility. We identify imbalances and weaknesses and target them for improvement through dedicated attention. What’s the psychological equivilant of stabalizing, balance-challenging, functional movements?How about: put yourself in challenging situations. I don’t mean to be unsafe, or to put yourself in harm’s way. I mean to learn that you can do something difficult, something unfamiliar, something outside your comfort zone. Go on a trip. Sign up for something you aren’t quite sure about. Start learning a yoga pose that seems out of reach. I’ve written before about doing nutty things like Ragnar and how it can be thrilling— maybe this does train resilience. At the very least, it makes a great excuse to embark on zany adventures. Which is kind of awesome.


A yoga teacher of mine said the other day: you don’t need to practice. but when you need your practice, you’d better hope you’ve been practicing. So with resilience: let’s hope you don’t need it— but when you do, you’ll be glad you’ve got it!

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