The Transition Network

New York City Chapter

“Being Resilient When Bad Things Happen”

(Posted March 1, 2018)

Feeling Older?  Puleeze.
“Being Resilient When Bad Things Happen”

by Amy Epstein                                    

The topic for discussion at the last meeting of one of my TTN peer groups was “Resilience.”  It was a timely subject since, of the 9 of us attending, 3 had recently had some very difficult experiences.  These included a worrisome medical diagnosis by one member of the group, a fall by another and, from the third, a scary nighttime episode involving pain, blood and the memory of a family member with cancer who had similar symptoms.
By the end of these recitations, we all were very concerned by the news as much for how it affected friends in the peer group as by the realization that there but for fortune was the potential for any of us to be in similar circumstances:  to receive an alarming medical diagnosis, a potentially life-changing fall or a middle-of-the-night medical event. 
Inasmuch as the three particular women who experienced these events lived alone, the discussion immediately switched to how they got through them.
Who you can call in an emergency is a concern many of us worry about if we live alone.
This is obviously a good time to pause and reflect on one of the most compelling programs of TTN, namely the Caring Collaborative, which is organized into neighborhood groups of members who get together once a month.  The fact that Caring Collaborative members of TTN are living together in roughly the same neighborhood, and the fact that the meetings occur regularly, should encourage potentially deeper friendships to form.  It’s those friendships that can be mined to informally identify “buddies” to pitch in and help out in difficult times.  That could be as simple as agreeing with a CC group member who lives nearby that you’d each be there for the other during an emergency to, perhaps, go to the ER together. 

However, it’s important to underscore the fact that friendships in Caring Collaborative Neighborhood Groups are easier to form among group members who see each other regularly.
 As the meeting progressed, it gave the rest of us in the room a chance to reflect on our own coping skills, and resilience, during a crisis.
Current literature on the subject of building resilience mentions a few
ways to do that, and, in one way or another, the remarks made by the group
included many of them. 

Among techniques thought to build resilience are these:

Be optimistic!  If you can, surround yourself with optimistic people.
Think positively about the setback as an opportunity to derive some benefit from the situation.

*  Remember how you’ve overcome other bad times. It comes down to reminding yourself that you’ve dealt with something very bad in the past and managed to get through it.

*  Be supportive of others coping with a crisis.  Giving support is purposeful and can make you stronger.

*  Take breaks from your stress by going for walks (nature is supposed to be particularly helpful), do some art (one affected member of our peer group found her paints), go to the movies (preferably with a friend), meditate (if that helps you).

Push your comfort zone envelope! The more challenging things you take on, and accomplish, the stronger your resilience muscle becomes. 
As the old saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
I’m very pleased to report that the three women in my peer group survived their respective experiences and are all doing just fine. 
I’d like to think that we all improved our coping skills that evening so that when life tosses us the inevitable lemons, we can make some nice lemonade.

Amy Epstein 
began writing and cartooning on her blog,  She trained in architecture and worked as a Senior Urban Designer for the Manhattan Office of the NYC Dept. of City Planning, then started a company that designed and manufactured educational children’s products. She is a CC Council member, and author of the Caring Times column, “Feeling Older? Puleeze".


Material from, 16:36:37 July 26, 2021.
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