RESILIENCE — THE ART OF BOUNCING BACK
I must have been around 5 years of age, when my dad brought home a gift, one evening after work. On seeing him, I put my mermaid-barbie doll aside and ran to him, all the while eyeing the little wrapped gift box in his hand. Knowing that I was a curious-cupcake, my dad made me sit on his lap and gave me the little box and said to me, “My dear child, this box contains something magical. Something that is going to complete you as a person and is going to teach you one of the greatest lessons in life”.I had my fingers crossed, hoping it would be new pink glittery fairy wings for my barbie doll, or wait! Maybe even a tiara for her…. As a 5 year old, little did I know that what the box contained would be the founding stone for one of my biggest strengths to this day.. With uncontrolled enthusiasm and curiosity, I ripped open the box and to my dismay, there were no fairy wings or tiara! What was inside the box was a very dull-looking, rather small rubber ball. Atleast it was pink in color. I picked it up in my little hands and looked at my dad with confusion. He laughed and encouraged me to throw it on the floor. I did as I was told, wishing it would roll away into a dark corner and be lost forever so that my dad would get me a sensible gift!! But what happened next blew my mind away! “BOINGGGG”! The little pink rubber ball came bouncing right back up! I remember vividly how my eyes widened with joy and I sprung down from my dad’s lap to catch it. I threw it again, this time as hard as my little hand could and again it bounced right back up, but this time, higher, with a louder “boingggg”. I remember my dad watching me with contentment that he had showed his 5 year old, how to bounce back higher when she fell harder — he had taught me resilience that day.
Oh wait! You are probably wondering who I am!! You are reading this in the presence of Manisha Manoharan, the first of her name, the Nth next best thing to the tribal chief — Mohammed Rafi (who you were probably hoping to learn something from but I know, I know… you ask for hazelnuts and sometimes all you get are peanuts! That’s life. So deal with it!), the Rolling Pumpkin from hilltops (like literally!), Protector and Relisher of all great food, the Unabashed, the Mother of Biryani, the Queen of Food Metaphors, and Khaleesi of The Tribe of Magic of Change!! On some lull days when I am not performing my duties as the Khaleesi, I like to believe that I am productive by duping as a behavioral trainer who transforms the crap out of young-adults and teenagers, who have been so gracious enough to learn from me! God bless those innocent souls! Oh, I also write such crazy blogs for Magic of Change. So on with it! Dracarys!!
Alrighty! Since you have been so patient enough to get this far and you managed to survive the anecdote from my life and my extremely humble introduction, I am hoping you know by now what it is that I am going to talk to you about. It’s my biggest strength and pride and I am sure it is for many of you too. Today, I am going to talk to you about RESILIENCE — THE ART OF BOUNCING BACK.
Okay, so what is resilience? It is the ability of a person to bounce back from an adverse situation, setbacks and problems, and to cope with the challenges and move forward in life, stronger than before. Just like a bouncing ball. The harder you throw it down, the higher and stronger it bounces right back up. There is a reason why I prefer to call resilience as the art of bouncing back. Art is the act of expressing feelings, thoughts and observations and by bouncing back you are merely expressing your feelings and thoughts of wanting to move forward in life, all the while ensuring you are doing it consistently. You are in a state of free flow, uninhibited and limitless when you bounce back, just like a beautiful work of art. Your way of bouncing back is unique to you — something that has been designed through the creativity of your mind. Again, just like a beautiful work of art. Each time you bounce back, your perspective about your life changes, and it gets better and better with each time. And just like art, resilience requires patience, openness and colossal amounts of perseverance until you learn to create masterpieces.
Someone once asked me, why bounce back? Let me remind you again of my first encounter with the bouncing ball. Had the ball never bounced back and had it rolled into a dark, dingy corner, never to be found again, the 5 year old I would have got off my dad’s lap with annoyance rather than with joy. I would have sat wondering why my dad never thought to buy my barbie doll the fairy wings I had always wanted. I wouldn’t have learnt to appreciate the little things in my life that made it beautiful, like the look of contentment on my dad’s face. I would have never realized that it wasn’t my Barbie doll that needed wings. It was this potato chunk of a little girl who needed wings and that small pink rubber ball was going to teach her how to grow them!
Adversities, pain, fear, suffering and challenges are a part and parcel of everyone’s lives. They are inevitable. It is impossible as a child to learn how to walk without going through these and thereby, growing through these. When we fell after taking our first step, our body did not give up. Neither did our mind. We got back up and took another and another and another step until it became a giant leap for us. Even at an age when we were not able to pronounce the word “resilience” every inch, nerve, fiber, cell of our body resonated with it and propelled us forward.
Resilience helps you be prepared for the slippery road of life ahead. It reinstalls the faith in yourself that you will move forward no matter, all the while prepping you to be more open to uncertainties and risks. The art of bouncing back will instill in you a renewed sense of achievement, purpose for living, immense satisfaction and joy, like how a nomad arriving at a beautiful lush-green, cool-blue oasis, with stunningly gorgeous belly dancers waiting to give him a sponge bath and feed him dates, in the middle of the desert would feel!!
So how do you get yourself to this oases, I mean, learn to inculcate resilience — the art of bouncing back? There are so many great teachers across the planet who speak of many things to do to be resilient. But my greatest teachers were my own life and the protagonist of this really long blog — The Damned Pink Bouncing Ball! And of course, my all-time favorite, Paulo Coelho, who was gracious enough to share with us in his book, The Alchemist, that the secret of life is to fall seven times and to get up eight times!
So I will be sharing with you all now, the extremely mighty 10 things I have learnt, followed and practiced religiously till date in my life to bounce back, higher and stronger.
- HAVE A GOAL OR PURPOSE IN LIFE — It is vital to have a goal in life or to live for a purpose. Know your destination and you can create your own map to get there. You could be Captain Jack Sparrow with a map or use our very own Google Maps. Your choice. But have a destination to get to in your life. Also, visualize where you want to be when you bounce back up — become the bouncing ball. Everytime you start losing track of why you need to bounce back, close your eyes and visualize where you wish to land on when you bounce back. Imagine you are the bouncing ball. Would you want to bounce higher and land on your goals or would you want to keep dribbling at the same level
- BE ADAMANT — Yes! You heard that right! Being adamant is not a bad thing if you want to bounce back in your life and move forward. Be downright adamant about wanting to move forward and rebuilding your life. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you to take a break or give up because it was fate what happened to you. Be adamant and believe in your power to change the course of your destiny. Be adamant in wanting to move forward and not looking back at what nearly destroyed you. It’s not just important to be adamant about moving forward but it is equally important to take action to move forward in life. Do things that can help you heal in the process of moving forward. Remember, it is a flowing river that carries fresh water. Stagnation leads to contamination. Be like a flowing river. Meander where you need to. Slow down if you have to. Cut through mountains and gorges if you need to and burst open like a waterfall if you want to. But keep flowing. It is absolutely alright if all you want to do is either run, walk or crawl in life but keep moving forward.
- MODEL PEOPLE WHO EXHIBIT RESILIENCE — It could be anyone in your life. It could be a celebrity or your coach or any random person who has bounced right back up from their pain and sufferings. Model that one trait of resilience in them if not everything. You will find models in nature as well. A spider building its web even after it has been destroyed. A cactus with a bright pink flower in the middle of nowhere! A crow trying to build its nest even when the twigs fall off. If you look closely enough, you will find many models of excellence in resilience in people and in nature. Let their stories inspire you to bounce back.
- DETOX YOUR LIFE — Not just your body but all of your life. Start by getting rid of those pesky little rodents who try to gnaw off of your energy and eat you alive. Get rid of those energy vampires disguised as your friends or family members, who try to suck out every ounce of your willingness to move forward. It may be difficult but it is not impossible. And by doing so you are not being selfish or self-centered but you are just protecting and preserving whatever ray of hope is left within you. It’s not really a loss if you lose people who have been pulling you down.
- DETOX YOUR MIND — Rid your mind of the little impish version of yours trying to tell you that you don’t need to bounce back up. Flush negative thoughts the moment they knock on the doors of your mind. Have strict security measures and allow only positive, energizing and motivating thoughts to get in. Past memories, although good and sweet, but holding you back from bouncing up is equally dangerous. Close your eyes, think of the memory, feel the ache in your heart and then snap your fingers like Thanos in Infinity War. Imagine it sublimating or disintegrating away into nothingness. You will observe that the ache will start fading away too. This is something that I devised when I had no other option but to rid my mind of excruciatingly painful yet good memories that were not allowing me to move forward in life. And it worked wonders for me! I proudly call it the Snap Sublimation Technique. Okay so I am not that great with naming things. Let’s not get judgemental there. Let’s just move on! Read how to Overcome Stress and Negativity, and Become more efficient
- REBUILD YOUR INNER CIRCLE — With the people who boost your energy and spirits, and rejoice, applaud loudly and cheer you on as you move forward. Build your inner circle with such people who you can rely on, and who can also slap you hard across your face and urge you to correct yourself when you screw up. When I went uphill for a trek in Munnar during my Beyond Mastery days, I fell multiple times on boulders that could have cracked my bones and rendered me motionless. But I was so adamant on moving forward to climb up tricky pathways to seek my waterfall of joy. Joseph Sir, the Indian Bruce Lee, held my hand firmly and led me on and cheered me to keep moving forward and did not stop until he let me rest and meditate under it as the waterfall blessed and cooled my scalp. If going uphill was a challenge, coming down was even more challenging. When people around me were afraid I might roll downhill like a huge, unstoppable pumpkin, Joseph Sir, handed me one half of a wild jackfruit and told me to hold it in my palm and not drop it. The moment he placed it on my palm, I shrieked in pain and dropped it as one of the thorns of the outer skin of the fruit had pierced me. He laughed and picked it up and again placed the thorny side on my palm again and told me to believe I could hold it. I did. Not only did I hold it but I climbed all the way down balancing it on one hand and not falling even once. He made me believe in myself even when I could not. Make such pristine connections and cherish them. Nurture such bonds because, trust me, these are the people who will thrust you forward when you feel your resilience is fading away.
- RECONSTRUCT YOUR MIND — By laying strong layers of foundation of self-motivation. Believe and have faith in yourself because if you don’t then no one else can do it for you! Become aware of your emotions and feelings. Don’t try to suppress them. Instead acknowledge them and communicate with them to understand why they arose in the first place. Understand what needs to change to handle your emotions better. Start your day by erecting affirmative pillars of what you want your life to look like. Tell yourself with congruence that this is exactly how your life will be and you want it to be. Command your RAS to look and move forward no matter what and to be happy and at peace all the while.
- FIND HUMOR EVEN IN CHAOS — Humor has helped me enormously in my path of moving forward. It makes even the scariest monster seem manageable. Allow yourself to laugh at your own mistakes and find the silver lining in it. When I kept falling on those boulders in Munnar, not once did i panic or lose hope. I kept laughing at myself for being so clumsy and also for being so proud for having kept my record of not having a single fracture till date. Learn to laugh even for the silliest reason, like no one’s watching and in that process, it is absolutely okay even if you fart! Fart is good to get rid of toxic gases from the body so if laughter helps with that, then why not?
- QUIT BEING A PERFECTIONIST — I used to be a pain in the wrong place even for myself because of my obsession with having to be perfect at whatever I did. Little did I know that this was the very same thing that was hindering my progress and stopping me from moving forward in life. Rafi made me realize that it was absolutely okay to fail when you tried to bounce back up. Failure is just feedback and learning in his words. If when you bounced back you did not land where you intended to. No Problemo! Be patient with yourself. Assess and evaluate what could have been done better and allow yourself to work on it again. Keep bouncing back till you finally land where you wanted to. Quit being a perfectionist at trying to be resilient. There will be many occasions where you would not feel the strength to bounce back up or you would feel miserable about having to face what you have faced. But that’s okay. It’s a part of the healing process. Sleep it off or just rest yourself. But the next day start your practice of bouncing back no matter what. It can be ugly and messy because healing is not perfect. It is an art in itself. There is no such thing as perfect art. Art does not seek perfection. Art seeks practice, perseverance and patience. And resilience, my dear friends, is an art.
- LOVE THY SELF — Remember to shower yourself with love. Write love letters to yourself. I keep a little black book, which is literally black in color and I am not kidding! I write in it almost every day as though it were a collection of love letters from me to me. Court yourself everytime you catch your reflection in the mirror. Admire yourself and compliment yourself for having gotten this far in life. Appreciate the beauty lines on your face which are the trophies of your challenges. Celebrate your failures too the way you would do for your successes. Celebration according to me is great, soul-satiating food and I have it every time I succeed or fail. I enjoy the process and the journey ahead rather than focusing on counting the number of wounds I have gotten. Give yourself a powerful metaphor for how you see yourself. Keep your mind and body — healthy, fit and active. Do what gives you joy as long as you are not harming anyone in the process. Allot an hour in your day for yourself for the same. Hug yourself and pat yourself on the shoulder when you achieve a milestone in your journey of moving forward. Connect with your soul and communicate with yourself. With who you really are. I use good food and music to do that. And spread love to yourself and to everyone around. Love is free, limitless and unconditional.
So, I hope that if you managed to get this far, you have also probably read the entire blog!! (bows down in gratitude and sheds tears of joy!). Be the bouncing ball! And go BOINGGGGGG! Right back up everytime life throws you down. Resilience or the Art of Bouncing Back is all about never giving up and I trust you won’t either! Grazias! Adios! Bubye in all the languages! Take care! Ti Amo.