RESILIENCE is a big word nowadays. We are hard-hit in different ways at different levels by this pandemic. We are left alone to fend for ourselves. Most of the time, we feel the tyranny of overwhelming emotions of surviving life amid a bleak certainty of the future. But somehow, we know we must move on, right?
The daily challenges brought about by the restrictions pushed us to keep our sanity amidst the seemingly fading line between work and domestic chores, not to mention the running monthly bills and other concerns. This has been the salient daily battle that confronts us all in our waking days.
Leah Hope Badoy, a Christian pastor and life coach, warned about the dangers of being overly exhausted and worn-out due to these concerns. She explained that taking ourselves this far could push us to be desperate and hard-pressed so that we trade the quality of life intended for us to enjoy. We don’t want to, of course!
So the big question is, is there a possibility of flourishing in these challenging times? Robert Rances, a neuroscientist, explained how the human brain reacts to uncomfortable changes in life. He emphasized the need to be mentally agile. Agility, in the context of neuroscience, is defined as the brain’s capacity to “respond to events flexibly and to move quickly between different ideas”. If you are mentally agile, you can respond well to changes, “move forward and decide on the best course of action” despite the bleakness of the situation. He continues that mentally agile people are “comfortable in the uncomfortable and find ease in complexity.” I wish all of us could respond that way but in reality, many people are swamped and paralyzed with anxiety.
Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) presents the gravity of cases of depression in the lives of this generation. According to the report, it has become a “common disease worldwide with more than 264 million people affected.” When critical, it often leads to suicide. As of current data, around 800,000 people die to suicide every year. It is the “second leading cause of death in 15 to 29-year-olds. This is devastating that most of the young people are plagued with the big D and they are often dealing with it by themselves.
I realized that anxiety is inevitable. The question of Boy Abunda in the Binibining Pilipinas question and answer portion, “When is it okay not to be okay and when is it not okay not to be okay?” confirms the reality of this battle.
The American Psychiatric Association has an explanation for this as they depict that anxiety is just a normal reaction to stress which is beneficial. However, when it goes overboard, characterized with excessive nervousness and fear to the point that you become paralyzed and lose the ability to perform well, this is where it needs to be given proper attention.
But I like how Rob introduces a powerful perspective on this issue. Mental agility does not come from a vacuum.
The first is to know your source. We cannot give what we don’t have and we cannot leak what we do not overflow. An evangelist taught me once that “we should be rooted and grounded in love”. We start within a place of assurance that we are loved, that’s why we perform not the other way around. If we perform because we want to be loved, then that is where disappointment and rejection come in.
Second, know your identity. Rob said that “identity is the overarching narrative that directs your choices, emotions, thoughts, potential, and the relationship you have with the people and the world.” Many of us are trekking life’s journey without a profound understanding of who we are. Many people do not know their inner wiring so they tread on a ladder only to find out that that they are climbing the wrong wall. This explains why many people are unhappy and display utter discontent towards their lives.
Lastly, know your purpose. Have we ever asked ourselves why we do what we do? Purpose gives a sense of hope to wake up every morning and motivates us to do excellently what we are called to do in life. An understanding of purpose makes a life of significance and meaning.
Now, ask yourself? How are you really?
(The author, Dr. Christine Faith M. Avila, is an associate professor from the Communication Program of Ateneo de Davao University. She graduated with a doctorate degree in Communication from the University of the Philippines Open University. She is one of the pioneering members of the Media Educators of Mindanao and the Communication Discipline representative in the Council of Educators of Deans for Arts and Sciences (CEDAS) in Region XI. More than being an educator, she is a loving wife, a hands-on mom to two girls, and a life coach handling a network of life groups since 2011.)
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