“Like tiny seeds with potent power to push through tough ground and become mighty trees, we hold innate reserves of unimaginable strength. We are resilient.”
― Catherine DeVrye, The Gift of Nature
While there are many words to describe resilience, such as spirit, strength, toughness, buoyancy, no one truly understands just how many of these traits they have until tragedy or disaster strikes.
For me it was 11 years ago today, I received the worst possible phone call from my Dad to say the police had been to their house informing them my brother had been taken to hospital and was in critical condition.
I’m sure you can imagine the feelings of panic and fear that came with those words. As I drove to the hospital I prayed he would be in a more stable condition with the hope of recovery by the time I got there. However, I knew as soon as I saw my husband who had arrived before me, the news was bad, in fact, it was the worst my brother had died before any of us could get to him.
It was devastating to watch as more family members arrived to be told the same news, but worst of all it was heart-breaking to watch my mum trying to deal with the shock and realisation that her youngest child was dead.
Up to this point, none of us had been allowed to see him, as he had to be officially identified. Being the oldest sibling and wanting to protect my Mum, I agreed to do it.
I’ve lost count of how many times I have seen this same scene being played out in a movie or TV drama, each time I would feel the pain of the emotions evoked by my thoughts in those moments, often bringing me to tears as I imagined how I might react if I ever had to do this, and now here I was, facing it for real.
The reason I am sharing this is no matter how many times I had imagined how this might play out, I had never allowed for the resilience and intelligence of our mind and body at that moment.
I was too numb from shock to feel or do anything other than to confirm that “yes, this is my brother”. I can only describe myself in those moments as being numb and on auto-pilot.
Looking back I am still surprised to realise I had suffered more in my thoughts of having to ever do this than the reality, something I now see I had done many times throughout my life.
Later that night as we sat around my parent’s kitchen table, a place which held many great memories of fun and laughter at the many family gatherings held there in the past, we were all too shocked, numb, and trapped in our own thinking to even speak.
In my mind, I worried if we would ever laugh together again.
I vividly remember waking up the next morning and for the first second I somehow forgot what had happened, as the memory came rushing back I hoped it had all just been a bad dream, my first words to my husband were “is it true?”
I could hear the anguish in his voice as he had to break the news to me again that yes it was true, my funny, handsome, fun-loving brother was dead.
And yet in those painful moments, I knew he wasn’t “gone” and that I would be with him again, somehow.
The next few days can only be described as a blur, as we arranged all that needed to be done while being held up by all of the love and support given to us by extended family and friends.
It was heartwarming to hear just how loved he was by so many and to prove my thoughts wrong again, we laughed at some of the many great memories his friends shared of him.
In the days after his funeral, I found myself dealing with so many difficult emotions that I couldn’t sleep, I lay awake with too many thoughts and questions swirling around in my head. I wondered if I would ever have peace of mind again.
In those moments I realised just how exhausted I was, coming to the realisation I had been living with an undercurrent of worry and fear for as long as I could remember.
Having grown up in a busy and strict household, the oldest of nine children, I naturally felt a responsibility for my younger siblings, but I could now see that since becoming a mum 4 years earlier, I felt a vulnerability I was finding hard to deal with.
I was often terrified at the thought of something bad happening to my family, living in a wide range of emotions on a daily basis, mostly good ones to be fair, however, even they were underlined by a sense of impending doom I just couldn’t seem to shake from my thoughts.
I often found myself caught up in my thoughts, visualising worst-case scenarios which mostly involved my children, as I worried about how I could protect them from all the perceived bad in the world.
I spent so much time wondering how I would cope if anything bad were to happen, and now here I was in the realisation that my worst fears had come to be.
The weird thing was in the midst of it all, I felt a strength I didn’t realise I had, I was extremely grateful for my amazingly strong family who I knew would help each other get through this tragedy.
Deep down I also knew we would find our way back from it, I had always had a strong faith in something bigger, and trusted I would be guided to the answers I needed to recover some sense of peace.
And while eleven years of searching and learning might seem like a long time, as we reach another anniversary of my brother’s death, it suddenly feels like it was only yesterday, again the power of our imagination and thought.
I understand now that part of the reason my journey of discovery took so long was that I had been mostly searching for those answers outside of myself, reading books and completing many personal development and spiritual courses, and while I gained many insights which helped me to deal with some of my fears and worries, mostly by trying to control my negative thinking, it all felt like such hard work.
I only seemed to be able to maintain equilibrium for short periods of time, before finding myself back in a low state of mind.
I would berate myself for not being more positive about all the great things I had in my life and seemed to be going round in circles, unable to maintain the peace of mind I instinctively knew should be easier to attain.
Thankfully, I found the reason behind this was I didn’t have an understanding of the nature of thought.
We have thousands of thoughts passing through our mind every day, lots are habitual, invoked by our senses. Others just pop into our minds, seemingly out of nowhere, often leaving us a little shocked, surprised, or even embarrassed at the idea of anyone else ever finding out what we are thinking.
We often find ourselves lost in thought, which can be nice if they are happy ones, however, the more negative ones can cause us a lot of unnecessary worry and stress, especially if we believe them as truths.
For example, if you have a lot of thinking around a person or situation you “feel” creates a problem for you, you can get stuck in your thinking around that for long periods of time.
You try to think of ways to deal with the person or find a solution for the problematic situation, causing you to feel the sensations of every emotion attached to those thoughts, be it fear, anger, regret, guilt, shame, etc.
With each of those thoughts causing your body to release the hormones related to that emotion, for example, if your thinking is fearful, cortisol and adrenalin are released for the fight/flight/freeze response which is needed when you are in real danger.
However, the brain does not know the difference between a real or imagined threat, and with research showing elevated cortisol and adrenalin over the long-term can lead to physical or mental illness, it is healthier for us to not get too lost in our negative thoughts.
Having spent many years living with the worry of all the what if’s and maybe’s that could potentially cause pain or hardship in my life, I have now come to understand I am the creator of how I experience life, and while I can’t control what is happening around me or what might happen in the future, I do have control over how I think/feel about it in any given moment.
Like in the past, I can conjure up fear-based, movie-like stories in my mind of what “might” happen, how I ”might” react and how it ”might” affect me or my loved ones.
Or I can remind myself there is no point in suffering unnecessarily by trying to guess the future, instead, trusting my wisdom will guide me through whatever I need to do at that moment.
And so with special thanks to my brother Roy, I am about to embark on a new journey of becoming a Life Coach in the hope I can point others to their innate resilience, wisdom, creativity, and well-being, and to the understanding, it is only ever insecure thinking that can keep us from achieving our dreams.
Believe me when I say I know this from experience, I have talked myself out of so much over the years, questioning my abilities to achieve what I want in life.
But not anymore, instead of believing my old, habitual, insecure thoughts when they sneak into my mind, I see them for what they are, transient energy that can only be shaped to look and feel real by my thinking.
Better than that I have an unshakeable knowing that we all have innate Divine intelligence which will guide us in creating whatever we wish to experience in our lives and the innate resilience to deal with any situation we may be facing now or in our future.
If you would like to work with me to explore this further, consider contacting me at [email protected] to book a free discovery call.
Thanks for reading,
Namaste: “I honour the place in you in which the entire universe resides. I honor the place in you of love, of light, of truth, and of peace. And when you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us.”