Vulnerability, Resilience and Asking For Help

“What is your current resilience factor?” I asked a client recently.

I could have made a batch of gluten-free cookies in the pause before her answer.

“I don’t think I’m very resilient at all,” she said in a measured tone, trying to hide that she was weeping.

“Woo-hoo, pot of gold!” I thought.  Then, with oceans of love, I said to her, “We have hit a nerve here.  Let’s just be right here, right now.”

Just then, she felt vulnerable and immobilized by her current situation.  When I asked what her experience of vulnerability felt like, she said she was tied tight to a tree in the middle of an uninhabited forest and had been there for days on end without food or water.  We both stood up and pressed our backs into the wall with arms straight down.  I asked her to tighten those ropes around her midsection tying her to the tree.  She gasped and said, “I can’t breathe here.”  And with one big “Aaaahhhrrrgggg,” the ropes dropped to the ground and she inhaled deeply.  “I don’t get it,” she said.

“What don’t you get?” I asked.

“How can I be resilient?  I get upset when people say mean things to me.  Sometimes I feel a sense of hopelessness about ever changing my situation.  And I am just plain mad at him (her husband) and feel like I shouldn’t be.  I know he’s doing his best right now.”

“Sounds to me like you have collapsed being inhumanly perfect into being resilient – as in you can never get mad, get a case of the blues or feel an occasional sense of hopelessness AND actually BE resilient.”

I could have made another batch of cookies in the next pause as she digested what I said.

“Oh, s***, f***, h*** and d***!  My Chief Operating Officer of Control has taken over again,” she said laughing her V-8 moment laugh.

“What is true about you, right now?”

“That I am resilient.  I do actually let people know they have hurt my feelings after I process it,” she said slowly.  And then, like The Little Engine That Could, she got on a roll.  “I am resilient because after I’ve journaled about feeling hopeless, I see what I can do next.  And I must be resilient because, after thirteen years of marriage, we keep finding our way back to love through the misunderstandings and fights.”

“What is important to remember about your resilience factor going forward from this conversation?”

“Taking time to be with my feelings is part of my resilience.  Heck, giving myself permission to have my feelings in the first place is part of my resilience.  And being accountable to what I discover I need to say or do to move forward.”

She was one freed-up, resilient woman with a plan of action that felt authentic to her at the end of our session.

3 easy ways to increase YOUR resilience!

If you are anything like my client, you can get revved up and move too fast from one thing to the next to the next to the next.  That’s when you not only override consciously chosen response; you allow a build-up of unexplored emotional responses to life just as my client had.  This is the perfect set-up for your favorite Mask(s) to take-over and leave you feeling anything but resilience.

Straight out of my Authenticity Advantage playbook:  Process + Decision + Authentic Action = Resilience

  1. Discover what returns you to resilience and do it.

We all process the daily twists of excitement, disappointment and change differently.  When you move too fast, you override consciously chosen response.

What is your preferred mode of processing the events of your life?  Do you find your way by talking it out loud?  Does your journal provide the release and clarity?  Do you need to physically move to sort things out?  Is it a combination? This step is essential to identifying the emotions and triggers of your Masks.

  1. What will return a sense of flow and balance?

After you process your emotional responses and take off the Mask, it is decision time.  What decision will support you to move forward?  Do you need to articulate a boundary (to yourself, someone else, both of you)?  What request is there to make?  What is there to accept about someone or something?  (Acceptance is not resignation or waving the white flag!  It is freedom from arguing with reality, which frees up your energy to actually shift your reality.)

  1. Taking Action For Your Own Wellbeing Can Serve the Greater Good.

The actions that don’t serve the greater good are usually the ones we take when we react and don’t take the time to sort out our emotional responses.  When I do this, I call it throwing gasoline on a fire!  But when you take time to sort out your emotional responses (like feeling like you are tied to a tree) and make decisions about what you really want something to feel like, you take possibility-inviting actions that serve the greater good.

My litmus test questions when considering actions:

  • What is the best possible outcome for this action?
  • What is the worst possible outcome for this action?
  • What is likely to be the outcome?

If I can live will all three answers, I am good to go!  If not, I consider other actions.

So – where do you get stuck in the resilience cycle?  Me?  My Masks and I can have a little too much fun making all the other people and circumstances very wrong and bad while owning my emotional responses.  And, I embrace that is part of my process to move into my resilience and right relationship with life.

If you’d like support in empowering your resilience, mark your calendar now to attend the next Authenticity Advantage Women’s Series Circle! Thursday, July 19th, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. PT. Register here!

Much love,


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