Some time ago I wrote an article around resilience as I am asked so often how I find the resilience to keep doing what I do and then something happened recently that highlighted what I had tried to explain in a simpler and more human way: It was an example of being tested.
Though I catch the train into London again I try to avoid rush hour commutes as it is just too frenetic, crammed and stressful for my PTSD condition (a legacy from the crash) However, I was on a 3 day training course in London that necessitated peak hour travelling.
Arriving at the train station on the third day I found (along with thousands of other commuters) that some electrical lines had come down just outside of Paddington which had closed the routes into and out of Paddington.
Rather than give up on the day (I hate not finishing anything I start) with the rest of the masses I traipsed off to the Waterloo stopping train that would take hours to reach London.
Being tested can occur at unexpected moments
There was standing room only and, as more and more people squeezed on, I found myself crushed into a corner near the far door, unable to move or hang on to much, mainly held in place by other bodies. My resilience (and PTSD) was being tested and it was a thoroughly unpleasant experience.
As we set off, I could feel the panic rising in my throat. I began to sweat profusely, mouth went dry and the nausea rose from the pit of my stomach. I bit my tongue hard in an effort to ward off the crying out I could feel welling up in me as the flashbacks began again, coming ever thicker and faster. Alongside all this the arthritis in my legs began to flame with painful heat making standing excruciating but there was no way I was ever going to find anywhere to sit.
I was literally stuck in a corner with no visible way out, feeling absolutely terrible and in pain…and this is where resilience all stems from.
When you are being tested you have choices
You have, at that moment a very simple choice. 1. Give up – give in to your doubts, fears, circumstances and let them wash over and engulf you. There is nothing that can be done to help or alleviate your immediate predicament so find the nearest or soonest escape route and take it.
Or 2. Fight back – accept whatever is happening to you but search for a way to cope with the immediate discomfort however rotten you feel, think about ways you might be able to improve the situation for yourself (in my case squirming around until I could reach my painkillers), and then work out how you will do it differently if circumstances were ever to repeat themselves. For the entire time know and appreciate that it will not last for ever and will, in some way, eventually be over. “This too will pass” is a mantra I use a lot! It is all about how you deal with your resilience being tested.
Assuming, like me, you always choose option 2 then you are resilient-proofed pretty much for the rest of your life.
I did get to my course eventually. After 30 minutes of pulling myself back together in the ladies I was able to re-join the rest of the group and carried on with no-one else the wiser. Oh, and I passed the leadership training accreditation it was teaching me so option 2 always trumps option 1.