I talk about resilience a lot.
Every time my 17-year-old daughter hears the word resilience, she says, “There’s your word, Dad!” So, in a nutshell, here what I know about building resilience in ourselves and our children.
Resilience is built in Relationships
Relationships are shaped by Reconciliation
Reconciliation is the skill of making things right
by saying “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you”
It is much easier to say: “I’m sorry” and mean it than it is to say: “I forgive you” and mean it. And yet, without forgiveness, our world stops. A lack of forgiveness stops countries sharing resources, families sharing Christmas and partners sharing a bed. Being sorry people is natural. Being forgiving people is enlightened!
So, start by saying the words “I forgive you” more often. Squeeze them into as many conversations as possible. Let people know they are loved by embracing them with forgiveness. Welcome them home.
Alongside forgiveness, offer apologies more often. It’s much better to apologise and hear, “You don’t need to apologise!” than not to apologise and risk the other person harbouring a niggle that grows into hatred. Two families in a small town hadn’t spoken to each other for generations. When a new police chief was posted to the town, he couldn’t understand the hatred and searched for an explanation. He asked everyone, including the members of the two families and no one knew the reason. The same explanation came from both camps: “We never talk to them! Our families don’t mix! They are dishonest, hurtful, horrible people!” No one knew the reason, but everyone lived the hate.
Apologise early. Apologise often. It hurts no one. In fact, it makes you the bigger person because you are willing to own your actions and admit you make mistakes. Children struggle with both sides of forgiveness unless it is modelled to them regularly. Reconciliation is a constant choice of conscience.
Once you’ve put reconciliation into full swing, your relationships will become healthy, happy and numerous. People who treat others kindly have more friends. It’s like magic. Well, not really. Everyone loves being loved!
Friendships built on forgiveness and kindness turn into deeply trusting relationships. And that’s where resilience comes from. Social researchers say people who bounce back quickly from unexpected difficulties (resilient people) have at least five significant adult relationships. That’s five emotionally healthy adults you know you can trust to eat with you, listen to you and care for you.
Resilience is a team sport. We build it together as we do life together. Invest more in your relationships, practice reconciliation, and watch your resilience — and the resilience of your children — grow, grow, grow!
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