One of the latest books I have added to my Kindle collection is Rising Strong by Dr. Brene Brown, research professor at the University of Houston graduate college of social work. In this New York Times bestseller, Dr. Brown addresses how people find their strength after setbacks: “We are the authors of our lives. We write our own daring endings. We craft love from heartbreak, compassion from shame, grace from disappointment, courage from failure. Showing up is our power. Story is our way home.”
And there has been enough heartbreak to go around after this week of violence and bloodshed here and abroad. Dr. Brown includes herself in the human condition saying, “We are the brave and brokenhearted. We are rising strong.” But how do people get there, to the strength?
Part of it is admitting to ourselves the reality of the loss. It is looking it in the eye, whether it is the loss of a life, a relationship, a job or even a much smaller issue. Minimizing the pain of a loss isn’t being brave; it is denial. Once we break through that step, realizing that life will never be the same, we can begin to move forward. And that is how the Japanese proverb describes what life is—“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” Emotional resilience builds like a muscle builds.
The interviews of survivors we see on CNN sometimes seem like going over the same story again and again. But that really is how it works. We need to tell our story and find the meaning of it in sharing it with others. The national stage may not be the ideal place for this painful thing to best occur, but it is a part of the collective grieving we do as a country and a world.
The next step in building resilience involves a creative effort. It is about choosing to author the ending or conclusion of the story. What does this all add up to? What possible good can come from it? How have challenges in the past helped in making our lives more meaningful? Where do we go from here? Strength comes from getting up another time and finding meaning together.