The Circumstance Placebo

In a recent conversation the subject of resilience and helplessness came up.  The new buzz words.  On giving the conversation more consideration, the following emerged.

To suggest that there needs to be an emphasis on developing resilience in the work force implies that in order to work in that particular organisation, there is an acceptance that you need to be resilient.  That the conditions under which you are working are to be accepted as given and that it is you that need to become immune to circumstance.  Secondly, to combine this approach with a discussion about helplessness also seems to suggest we are unable to do anything about our circumstances – hence the need to be resilient.  Maybe we only need to be resilient if we feel helpless?

What strikes me in this moment is that when I move to a position of helpfulness rather than helplessness, somehow I already feel more resilient, that helpfulness begets a feeling of empowerment.

Taking this thinking further, it also occurs to me that either way, whatever we are feeling about our circumstances and what we can do about them,  really are just thoughts in that moment.  Thoughts we catch from others like a virus and thoughts of our own we nurture so lovingly that we believe them to be truth.  It reminds me of the saying ‘don’t believe everything you hear, especially in your own head.’

What this means is that our feelings of any kind are created by the thoughts we are having about what goes on around us – the stuff that happens ‘to’ us.    These thoughts can be exchanged for others, which gives us an element of choice.  We may still choose to do nothing about our circumstances, but either way we choose.

So we get to choose to be helpful or helpless and no matter how small there are always opportunities to help in any situation.  Helplessness is an illusion and the more you believe this the more you get to dream of a magic resilience pill that will cure you of this intractable condition.  The other amazing thing I have realised about the human condition, is that people who can help me will show up at the right time and place just when I need them.  I just have to be conscious enough to see them when they show up.  That somehow when we stop nurturing our helplessness we really do see opportunities all around us that we couldn’t see before.  So here is a quote from one of my favourite books:

“If you become a follower, you lose your independence and become a slave to someone else’s ideas and beliefs; you give up your free will and freedom of thought, two extremely valuable assets in life”

Sydney Banks – The Missing Link





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