While it is far from over, 2020 has already brought unprecedented upset with a worldwide pandemic, countless weather disasters and reports of widespread human suffering and economic loss. Additionally, here in the U.S., unfortunate instances of racial discrimination and polarizing political beliefs have been the source of conflict in urban and rural areas alike.
In these times, “resilience” has become an elevated axiom for individuals and communities. The American Psychological Association defines resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. Resilience is key to building and rebuilding a strong and vibrant nation.
Following the events of September 11, 2001, Americans came together in solidarity for our nation. We put aside differences in religion, politics, and race and we talked openly about our feelings and shared aspirations. Of that difficult time, then-U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said, “It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.”
For the rest of 2020, here are some simple practices that can help us build resilience within our families and communities:
- Dialogue. Studies show that a critical first step in facing adversity is dialogue. Engaging in courageous and open conversations in an atmosphere of respect and civility builds conscious awareness.
- Awareness. Awareness increases recognition and understanding of our unconscious biases, self-limiting thoughts, and behaviors that are often revealed in our interactions with others.
- Avoid Empty Gestures. Avoid rote or canned messages without heartfelt or genuine interest. Like saying you’re sorry from the head but not from the heart. Show genuine care and concern for others.
- Show Empathy. Listen with interest. Seek knowledge and understanding of diverse viewpoints of others who may have vastly different experiences in life.
- Seek Support. Coaching, mentoring and counseling. No matter where we are in life, there are benefits from having support from professionals or friends.
- Engage with Others. While digital communications have risen to a new level during the pandemic, sometimes all that is needed is a phone call. Reach out to others and inquire about their well-being.
- Be Kind. Sometimes people can make “politically correct” statements, but kindness goes beyond surface level compliments with actions that come from the heart. Kindness is deep, heartfelt, and sincere.
- Be Intentional. Good intentions are those targets we strive for but sometimes fall short. Our words may say one thing, but it’s what you do that is seen and remembered. Know what it is that you want to do and follow through.
- Be Relational. Whether it’s building people or communities, relationships are needed. Broaden your network, including people from diverse populations. Diversity increases understanding and equity.
- Share. About the practice of sharing, Leonard Nimoy said, “The miracle is this: the more we share, the more we have.” Thank you, Mr. Spock!
In these final months of 2020 and beyond, whether it’s the upcoming election, a continual fight against COVID-19, or the movement for racial equality, let’s remember that these practices aren’t new. We are all Americans and in times of distress we have experience in pulling together for the greater good. Let’s do that now.
Dr. Adriene Wright of Tallahassee leads a consulting practice providing thought leadership, business consulting, coaching, and facilitation. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.