Building Resilience in Times of Uncertainty

April 2020

Each news conference concerning the coronavirus pandemic seems to reinforce the anxiety that many of us are feeling about the world we are currently living in. Our fear of this new virus is only the tip of the iceberg. We’re worried about the welfare of our families, our friends and neighbors; we’re frightened as we watch our entire economy, and economies around the globe, completely shut down overnight; we’re concerned that we won’t be able to find adequate medical care in case of an emergency.


Building Resilience in Times of Uncertainty

It’s enormously comforting to watch how heroically many people handle adversity by stepping up to the plate, sometimes in small ways, by running errands for an elderly neighbor, sometimes in dramatically large ways, like our first responders and medical personnel; and, sometimes in very mundane but important ways, like school teachers driving miles every day to deliver curriculum materials to their students.

Courageous actions by everyday people help to give us the strength we need to step up to the plate ourselves. But it’s stressful to self-isolate while working at home and also taking care of children and role modeling resilience to them. (Tips for Raising Resilient Children). During times like this, it can be a struggle to maintain a psychologically upbeat attitude. We’ve all read how important it is to establish a daily routine and commit to a little self-care, and exercise, and also connect with loved-ones and trusted friends. For those who have not already listened to Admiral McRraven’s 2014 commencement address to the University of Texas at Austin, below is a small excerpt to give you perspective and keep you motivated:

Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up – if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today. — William H. McRraven, Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

Naturally, we can’t do this alone. We need reassurance from people who can reinforce what we already know deep down inside but forget when we’re so deep in the thick of it that we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

This month, Brené Brown, the sociologist turned author, who became famous for her TEDx talk on vulnerability, launched a new podcast (Unlocking Us) that explores the universal experiences of being human, the meaning of leadership and courage, and what connects us all, because we don’t need to navigate this life alone.

The BBC’s podcast Outlook Extraordinary Stories tells the stories of extraordinary people from around the world who have lived through great adversity and come out the other end stronger and more resilient than before.

Don’t forget to check out a profound and wonderful interview, “The Inner Landscape of Beauty,” with John O’Donohue, the late philosopher, theologian and poet, on the Podcast ‘On Being with Krista Tippett.’