On a walk in Peckham Rye recently I saw this tremendous tree, with a fence that it had absorbed at some point in its long life. It reminded me of how resilient all living things can be. The tree, if it could share its thoughts, would confirm that it would have much preferred to not have had any contact with a fence, I am sure, but it has been able to incorporate it into its existence and thrive magnificently. And thats a wonderful example to us all of the resilience we can aspire to have in our lives.
I have yet to meet an adult who has not experienced a setback or challenge of one kind or another. I'd say, by the time most people leave school, they will have had a setback of one kind or another: a failed exam, a broken heart, a loss of some kind.
Elizabeth Kübler-Ross exposed to the world how grief works: There are 5 stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Its not a linear experience and each person experiences if very uniquely. Its possible to cycle through all of the stages in a day or stay in one one for months. Her final stage was acceptance, which is when the person accepts that the change has happened and there is no going back to how things used to be. Recently, one of her collaborators, David Kessler, through his experience of a devastating personal loss, was able to discover a 6th stage: the ability to find something meaningful in the grief, a phoenix from the ashes of loss.
This, in the Positive Intelligence framework is the 'gift of inspiration'. The ability to find meaning from loss and disappointment. The skill of looking back on a broken heart and know that it was something that needed to happen, a life lesson that helped shape a better future. Or a less-than-ideal exam result turning out to be a great wakeup call for improving one's focus on study. David Kessler was able to find a way to process the loss of his adult son was through acknowledging that his son "was proud of what I did, and he’d be pleased that my work has found a new dimension because of him,”. It is my deepest hope that none of us are exposed to experience that test our resilience so deeply.
Life is full of ups and downs, some are bigger and more important that others and each of them takes their own time for us to work through them. I invite you to consider this lovely tree in Peckham Rye (in fact there are a couple of them) and consider how you can take the setbacks you have experienced and weave them into your life so that you continue to grow into your confident, strong, wonderful self.
Need some help with getting your bounce back? Get in touch and lets talk about it!
Moorhead, J (2021) "Finding meaning in the life of a loved one who dies is part of grief", The Guardian, 17 Jan
More about David Kessler on his website Grief.com
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