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(4) About intrapersonal resilience

...or what can resilience concept do for us?

During our encounters you were mentioning that resilience concept has helped you navigate through the changes in your everyday life. What did that concept do for you as individual?

Testing and internalising that concept in my personal life opened deeper insights into how it can be used on a different scales, like cities or companies. At the same time, researching about implications of that concept on organising cities or organisations shed the light how it can be useful in my everyday life.

What does it mean to be a resilient individual?

Generally, we can see personal resilience as the ability to cope well with changes and recover after any disturbance, like gain or loss, illness, misfortune or traumatic experience.

The problem with that definition starts when existing patterns of organisation and behaviour we have created are resilient, which are no longer in our service. The resilience of the outdated systems can unable transformative innovation and prolong patterns that are destructive. In other words, you only struggle because you’re not willing to let go known, not longer useful, patterns of thinking and living.

Also, you can’t completely give up all patterns that you live by, because some might be useful.

From this perspective, intrapersonal resilience is all about holding the balance between maintaining our individual identity, the sense of self, and recovering from setbacks in a rapidly changing environment.

Right. Because of the constant change in our environment and within us, it’s unavoidable to let our individual identity to change, and to be discerning about our own habits and mental concepts. The question is, to which extent can we detach from them? Where is the threshold of our sense of self’s?

So, where is the threshold of our sense of self’s?

Threshold is constantly changing with our environment. Ability to keep the spot where rigidity and openness are in balance determines our resilience. I see the key to inner resilience in understanding how our worldview influences our interpretation of reality and reactions, and builds our identity. If we are willing to try on other world views and perspectives, we can often see connections and opportunities that we were blind to from within a fixed point of view.

You’re talking about going back to basics and questioning all what we think we know, in order to know more.

Yes. We see reality through concepts of interpretation learned by cultural transmission and an education. In this way society reaches a consensus about what reality is. That process is old as humans. Our brains developed through thousands of years of evolution in a way that enables it to be perceptive to stimuli from environment that are crucial to keep our bodies alive. How we process and react to certain spectrum of light and sound, feeling of space and time, and to our understanding of the causes and consequences makes our reality.

What is the connection between breaking those concepts and being resilient?

Our rigid, constructed identity protects us from the new interpretation of the information from outside and from the inside. Our brains functions in a way to preserve the least energy possible, so it mainly interprets the reality through bypasses, and confirming existing patterns. Only when it is able to dissolve the built concepts, new information becomes available. Remember when we were talking about how ability to self organise after disturbance and ability to learn make resilient system? That doesn’t go without introducing new understandings of our inner selves and outer circumstances being.

Being fixated to the same concepts that explain reality bring us confusion and suffering. Questioning the consensus reality, allowing the state of mind that is open to other interpretations of reality, and that is not attached to them helps to live better and truly be more resilient. That goes for any scale of the system, from one individual, community, company, state, social-ecological system.

Intrapersonal resilience is about the capacity to understand everything we may ever observe, inside or outside of ourselves, as transient, changing, that do not exist independently as things with any real continuity, solidity or fixed location, but rather within an infinite network of connectivity.

That resolves us of the burden of needing to control our reality, because the possibility of control becomes absurd, like an ocean controlled by a bubble appearing momentary on its surface. What that understanding provides is the “pure action”, responsiveness without a unnecessary weight of concepts, imaginary predictions, memories.

From my experience, loosening up my beliefs and expectations about what lifestyle, values, relationships I should pursuit truly unburdens me, and I’m left with more energy, even intelligence.

The true power of that principle can be seen when you investigate the concepts that are so deeply internalised within us, that we even don’t see them.

Concepts like what?

Big one for me was the cultural concept of “life’s purpose". I lived for a long time thinking I have a purpose in my life that I need to uncover by hard work, by following my bliss, and so on. Once my purpose reveals, I’ll know my place under the sun and I’ll happily live ever after. One of the best moments in my life was when I’ve realised I don’t have a purpose, it is just a cultural narrative. As I broke that narrative, everything became a purpose. Scratching my nose right now is reality’s ultimate purpose. That’s the fun part. When you brake the concept, you can play with it anyhow you want.

That is a good one.

We can go even further. One of the most invisible part of “consensus reality” is cultural narrative of separation. We see ourselves as a organic system separated from its surrounding, which needs to be sustained to survive, so we have developed the habit of seeing the world through the lens of eternal scarcity and competition. Can we experience ourselves as something else than that?

That’s real interpersonal resilience that I’m talking about - shifting our narrative to be able to look straight in the face of calamity while being aware of the perfection, abundance around us. Towards responding and coping to change while constantly evolving our identity.

Or, towards living in full equilibrium every single moment, to use the resilience language!

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