Right To Be
Resilience in the Face of Crisis
This resource is designed...

…to complement our one-hour Resilience Training. Our goal is to support you in holding space for yourself and making active choices about how you respond to stress and trauma. 

What Is Resilience?

What helps us stay grounded? How can we assess and quickly recover from a situation of stress or discomfort? In the most literal sense, resilience is defined as the ability of an object to spring back into shape. This same scientific concept can be applied to how we live our lives in a world that contains injustice and pain. We can build resilience on many fronts: personal resilience, interpersonal resilience, organizational resilience, community resilience, and societal resilience. Each of these is equally important and informs the others.

This resource and its associated training focus on personal resilience. That’s because as individuals, our personal resilience is the one we have the most control over. Like we said, personal resilience isn’t the only form of resilience that exists. But it does influence other forms – which means that when we work to build strong personal resilience practices, we create the building blocks to strengthen the resilience of our relationships, organizations, communities, and society itself. We actively build a world, bit by bit, that centers our humanity. That starts with each of us. 

As individuals, our needs go beyond self care. We need to know how we can find choice in challenging and even traumatic situations. In making the choice to consult this resource, you’ve already taken the first step toward building a world filled with humanity – by centering yours. 

Step 1: Embrace What Is

To process pain, we must fully see and understand what’s going on. 

Our pain can be personal. It can be linked to a singular event or moment in time. It can also stem from generational trauma. What do we mean by “generational trauma?” Well, scientifically speaking, the trauma of collective experiences that we understand as crimes against humanity – such as enslavement, genocide, the Holocaust, invasion, colonialism, and more – is passed down in human genes. Trauma can leave a chemical mark on a person’s genes, which is then inherited by subsequent generations. It’s not the same as a genetic mutation: the mark doesn’t directly alter the gene. Instead, it alters the way in which the gene expresses itself. That means when we build resilience in our current situation, we can potentially change how we code this moment into our genes, and how it will affect our children, grandchildren, and future generations.

Whatever the root of our pain is, sometimes we may find that we’d rather pretend our pain didn’t happen, doesn’t exist, or that we are actually “stronger” than our pain – “strong enough” that we don’t need to feel it at all. Other times, we may find that all we can see in either direction is pain. Joy feels unreal, illusory, impossible to grasp. Maybe we feel both these emotions at once. 

Psychologists have a word for our occasional inability to embrace what’s happening in the present. They call it “dissociation,” and it’s a natural survival strategy our brains use to “check out” and avoid feeling anything at all, when feeling things is just too overwhelming. It might sound convenient not to have to deal with our feelings – but it isn’t ideal, because to process our feelings, we have to acknowledge and feel them. Dissociation can look like different things: for instance, always keeping busy, using alcohol or drugs, spacing out, overconsuming media…these are all probably somewhat familiar examples of ways we avoid our pain.

But remember this: there is power in naming what hurts…and what feels good

Right To Be has built power in the movement for social justice by helping people recognize their pain, hurt, and self-blame around harassment. Pain can motivate us; it can teach us; it can even strengthen us. 

But if we only sit in our pain, we’ll never find a way to be free from it. Just as there is power in naming our pain, there is also power in naming our pleasure. What works? What makes us feel strong? What gives us a sense of purpose? 

We are resilient by understanding ourselves. 

How to Welcome What You’re Feeling
  • Watch and name your emotions without judgement…
  • Do a body scan: that is, notice each part of your body one by one to find where you hold tension and sensation…
  • Feel your feet on the floor, your butt in your seat, your back on your chair…
  • Try deep breathing. One technique is box breathing…
  • Talk to a trusted friend or family member…
  • Recognize when it’s too much, and take time to shake it off…
Step 2: Create Your Story

This next step is about making sense of what happened to us.

You are the author of your own story. It may not always feel like that. You certainly didn’t ask for pain. You didn’t ask for trauma. You didn’t ask for what others did to you or what they ignored. None of that is your fault. But what the science of resilience reminds us is this: how we tell our story matters deeply. It matters so much that it shapes our future story.

Imagine you’ve been wanting to buy a pair of blue shoes, and all of a sudden, you seem to see blue shoes everywhere. Do a lot of people wear blue shoes? Sure. Are there actually more people wearing blue shoes than usual? No. 

Now, let’s replace “blue shoes” with “traumatic events.” When we’re in the midst of experiencing trauma, it’s easy to see other things – even everything – as harm. It’s hard to see joy, gratitude, and beauty in moments where our minds are clouded by the harm we’re experiencing. But the core of resilience is the very act of finding these things even in the midst of traumatic events.

How To Be the Author of Your Own Narrative
  • Ask yourself: “Am I seeing more ‘blue shoes’ than usual lately?”…
  • Practice using “AND” statements, where pain AND joy reside together…
  • Write your own meditations and affirmations. Repeat them regularly…
  • Find your story through music…
  • Write your story…
  • Pour your story into art (crafting, dancing, singing, drawing, etc.)…
Step 3: Be In Choice

Awareness leads to choice. In choice, there is freedom. By embracing what is and creating your story, you’re building awareness. Life will knock you off balance, and the work of resilience is to learn how to find your ground again quickly. Growth comes from action!

How to Take Action
  • Practice good sleep hygiene…
  • Limit your exposure to social media…
  • Spend time helping others…
  • Say “no” to what doesn’t feel good, and don’t apologize for maintaining your boundaries…
  • Spend time caring for your body… 
  • Spend time alone…
  • Spend time in community…
  • Do some upregulating exercises (activities that get your heart rate up! Running, dancing, etc.)…
  • Do some downregulating exercises (activities that calm and soothe you, like meditation, stretching, or yoga)…
  • Take time to express gratitude aloud or in a journal…
Finally, remember that you have the right to be...

…whoever you are, wherever you are, in whatever stage of healing you are. We’ve got your back.  

OUR UPCOMING TRAININGS

Right To Be

Upcoming training

Resilience: This Moment and Beyond

September 26, 2022

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EST

Right To Be

Upcoming training

Resilience: This Moment and Beyond

October 19, 2022

5:00 pm - 6:15 pm EST

Right To Be

Upcoming training

Resilience: This Moment and Beyond

September 26, 2022

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EST

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YOU ARE POWERFUL

Remember, everyone can do something. At this time in our history, it is even more important that we show up for one another as active bystanders. Research shows that even a knowing glance can significantly reduce trauma for the person who is targeted. One of the most important things we can do is to let the person who is targeted know, in some way, however big or small, that they are not alone.

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