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Brendan O'Connor on our TV Radio One, I think a lot of you are very grateful to Christy Dignam and the woylie for that conversation there and lots of people texting and who are on, you know, different stages of that journey on Texases. Brendan, please tankful and for sharing that today I'm in the middle of the window visits, which are awful. And it's heartwarming for me to realize there are others out there. And someone else says, I can't believe someone has finally come out and talking about what is important.


I'm sick of hearing about everybody else and about where is how are we all to know how to grieve. And in these times and look where we're going to kind of stay on a similar vein now, where on a positive note, I think. But I think there was a huge positive note there in Christy Dignam and Enda Wylie. But it kind of hangs there in a way that Christie just kept saying there's a want and meet. There's there's something wanting it.


And but anyway, we're going to talk about resilience now. And Tony Bates has joined us again. Tony, always good to see you. I spoke with Tony. Resilience has become this buzzword during the pandemic and even the T-shirt mentioned in his speech before Lockton.


So we're going to talk about what it is just to say one word about and use the poem, because it's hard it's hard to move beyond that. Yeah.


And I think that when the world is cold and cruel, I think the poem becomes a superhero. It's the person we need and the person we turn to and her poem, she said a lot, but her poem said it even more profoundly and in a very comforting way to all of us who find ourselves grieving or facing grief. Mm hmm. I just want to say yes, you know, absolutely. And as far as comfort is what people need and always it's a simple word, but that's what people grieve.


I think that's all we can do for solace and comfort and soothing at this time of the year. We're tired. We've had a long year. It's not over. We have some grounds for hope and we're kind of counting on that. But but it's almost I think a lot of people are feeling just almost too tired to celebrate it, to rise to the occasion. The revelers are out there, but there are some who are just.


Just want to slip quietly into Christmas and rest and then begin to face what we hope will be a very different year.


Now we hear people all this talk about resilience. And I think a lot of us sometimes think she's I wish I had more of that. But the good news, I suppose, is that you say resilience is not something we either have or haven't. That resilience is something we can do. It's a practice, a habit.


Well, I think resilience is what helps us when life takes a turn for the worse, you know, when we're facing these really horrific, heartbreaking things. And it's what we call on in ourselves of what we've learned from life so far and what we have around us in our relationships and our families and our workplace and our communities in society, the support and the resources that are there that help me to face what is difficult. And I think resilience, the word it came from engineering and physics, which meant to bounce back.


You know, that's when something was bent out of shape. It regained its shape with human beings. I think it's a little more nuanced because I don't think we bounce back. I think we are changed when we face these kind of very difficult situations and we can become embittered and we can become, you know, but we can also grow. And that's I think what we just heard was people who are who are hurting, but also growing, who are changing.


And so we don't we talk about resilience in human terms. I think it's more we bounce forward, we grow, we see ourselves differently. Perhaps we're softer with ourselves. Perhaps we see other people as a little more kind. Perhaps we see a world where people are not quite as together as we thought they might have been. So we're changed. And it is it is something it's really the question is what helps us to to to bring about in facing something difficult, a better than expected.


Ending to this story now, there's a couple of interesting things you say there that might surprise people about resilience when you talk about it as as a communal thing and reaching out to our support networks, because I suppose we have an idea of resilience as being like I am.


I am tough enough.


I stoicism and most Jack Reacher, you know, it's the guy who can face up anything almost on their own. I think that is a very unhelpful myth. And I think it can masquerade sometimes because we then blame people who are not resilient. What the signs of resilience shows us is that resilience, particularly as we get older, is far more about the resources we have around us than it is about anything inside us. So if we can think, instead of thinking about the rugged individual, if we can think about the resource individual, if we can think that all of us have inside us a certain amount of resilience, the real secret is how can we help one another to draw that out?


And people need all kinds of supports to do that. It just doesn't. It isn't. Self-Help strategies only get you so far. Positive thinking gets you so far. OK, you need more. OK, so the first lesson people can take is that you don't need to do this on your own. It's not all about you. Yeah. Yeah, it's not like and that's very important. The second thing you kind of implied there is that resilience being about the kind of growth I think you mentioned softness in everything, whereas again, I would think of resilience as being kind of tougher and more, you know, rigid kind of thing, like a strength kind of thing.


But it's actually more it's more fluid thing than I think, you know, it's it's kind of it is looser.


But I like to think of it as kind of like a knitting exercise, you know, that you we take what we have on ourselves. We knit it together with the support we have from people we love and who love us. And we have a community who understand and support us and perhaps services agencies, MABS, Vincent de Paul, people, really important people who are out there in our world. And we kind of knit out of all of that as a survival story.


You know, this is this is how and and and in the process weariness, our sense of identity, we change. Resilience is not just overcoming something. It's becoming something in the face of this. The people we just listen to her are there is a tremendous softness in them that are not harsh.


I don't I think we have that idea of resilience that we toughen up, we get hard and we, you know, just plunge ourselves into life.


You know that. I don't think it's helpful at all. It's a myth.


So you need to allow and and they do say about grief particularly, don't they, that you need to allow it. You need to allow these things to come.


You feel what you feel, you know, when you were wounded, when you're hurt, you, that's what you feel. And sometimes that's all you can do is to be in that place. Resilience is what comes next for you. So go go with that. Don't try and get resilience as a that. These are all those things down.


Yeah, exactly. Brendan, I don't think you can just ignore that the weight of grief for that's pressing down in the moment. And that isn't a time to say, OK, you know, I think the question to say is, look, whatever we're facing, there are different possible endings to this situation. You know, we were going about it in a really bad ending or we can have a really good ending. And University of Pennsylvania resilience program, ask people to think what is the best possible ending?


What's the worst possible ending?


OK, and the reality is that we're all going to end up somewhere in between. And and so the real question is, what is an ending that I could hope for and would make a difference for me? And then the next question is, what helps me to move towards that ending?


You know, resilience in that sense is an invitation to become involved in a story of making something and in a way that is meaningful and an OK for me and for the people I'm OK.


And we we should do that exercise, like in the micro of life. Say what I think can happen here.


Everybody listening could do that exercise that were all of us. I do this every day in a sense that we're always facing something, you know, like a very heavy thing, like grief and or maybe a less, you know, I don't know what to buy for somebody for Christmas or it could be Christmas itself. I think for me, I think of, you know, what we're facing and then ask ourselves, what's the best what's the worst possible outcome?


And then what would be helpful to to move forward in this story?


You know what would be helpful? Maybe to talk to somebody and ask them what they want, maybe to. Talk to someone else. There's all kinds of things that can be helpful, but but it's it's it's it's to move in the direction of an ending that I can live with.


And it's to do whatever is within my reach today, now and then like Christie, and obviously are probably at one extreme end of things there. And they have they have lost somebody this year. And then there are those of us who who haven't lost somebody who have our to have work and everything. And, you know, we feel we have nothing to complain about. But you say that all of us have lost what you call our assumptive world to explain to me about that.


And that's a phrase that I think Lucy honed in on as a director of a resilience center in New Zealand. And she has a big TED talk about a billion people have watched it. And she talks about when when when, you know, we experienced some disruption in our life. What happens is that the rug is pulled from underneath us. And the rug being our kind of working model of what life is, are the story I tell myself about how to live.


This is what I do. This is what the world does. This is how things happen. Well, you know what? Something happens that just pulls the rug from underneath you and you're left floundering, not knowing quite what to do next. And resilience is what comes next. Yeah.


Now, just as a little exercise as well, I know what you'd like people to do. And I think it could be very interesting is to text or email us. You no tax to five one five five on our email, Brendan and artillery basically with what they're facing now, is that right? Just there's a technique of Chris Johnstone.


He calls the storyboarding. And what he does is he sees that. He says we all have our resilience story. Everybody listening has already lived through all kinds of different things. So they have a story to tell. They have a meaning that they have for what resilience is. And what he says is that, you know, like every great story begins with people feeling a bit underpowered, ill equipped. Frodo had, you know, big feet, small guy living in a very sort of protected community.


Harry was an orphan, didn't know who he was, lived under the stairs. None of these guys seemed like they were going to become heroes, but they did.


The story is the story of of their resilience, of how they found in themselves and in each other and in the people around them and in the weapons. They needed a way to give the story of life at that time a different ending to what it might have been to avert a tragedy. Okay, so if what if what Chris Johnstone says is, look, we're all facing something, so let's begin. And the first storyboard, the first scene is here's me facing this or can each of us has something we're facing?


And it will be very interesting. And people could text even a word just to say what their face.


Yeah, let's let's let's do that. And I think that's going to be really helpful to a lot of a lot of other people.


And then we can look at the next storyboard scene, which will come to an end. OK, but that would be quite powerful.


OK, well, OK. In the meantime, while we're waiting for people to get on to us, there are five one five five one.


And Brendan Arati, you also say that what's important is to is to read the situation or am I jumping the gun on on the tax? There are can we talk about the situation?


I was I think what you're getting here is how do we learn these these skills? Are these how do we how do we kind of strengthen our natural resilience? And by the way, again, a great definition of resilience comes from one of our own treasured poets. Again, a poet, you know that we live in a world that dreams of ending, that always seems about to give in something that will not acknowledge conclusion, insists that we forever begin.


Good old Brendan Canelli. I mean, I think that something is that quality inside us of resilience and and it's a kind of a flexibility.


And I don't want to sound completely airy fairy, but is there a sense then that we have a choice every day to to begin again? Is that kind of it like to start again or start? We do have a choice.


I think that's a good way to put it. And poetry doesn't make very difficult situations disappear. I don't ever suggest that. In fact, no one thing will. It'll always be a number of things. And that's what we've got to remember. It's not there's no magic bullet. It really is a number of things. But words can help people. Words can be very helpful. Lucy Hoenn had a terrible tragedy in grief in her life.


Her daughter was killed and all kinds of things. But she said what helped her the most? I was asking the question every day is what I'm doing now. Helping me or harming me? You know, that was her question. And for me, the one I use is something is better than nothing.


You know, I get up and I'm facing into something and, you know, it feels too much to get involved in or to get engaged in. And I just say, hold on. Something is better than nothing. What is something I can do here?


OK, this is back to act. This has got to do so. I don't sit around kind of thinking about it or trying to do something rather than announce, you know, it's not something we have as something we do.


It's it's a story that unfolds. And we've got to be really able to read the situation, to read ourselves and to read what's around us and be willing to look for the supports we need that worked for us, that we value.


And is that important? The stories that we we tell ourselves that, you know, the narrative we have inside you of jumping out from the north to me here is drilldown your inner critic, which is easier said than done, isn't it?


Is it like trying to tell ourselves more positive stories of three years?


That sounds are different stories.


I, I don't know this. I think positive thinking only goes so far, and I think, again, we need flexible thinking, we need positive action, but I think that's certainly, you know, finding fault with ourselves and reminding ourselves that we're not good enough to face this thing or we're not or we're stupid to have even ended up in this situation. Those kind of judgments are just not at all helpful. I mean, do we really? And I think self compassion is where we accept that we are in a difficult situation, facing a difficult situation.


And and we ask the question, what would be helpful here? Not. Accuse ourselves of all kinds of failings and shortcomings. OK, let's let's read some tax here. Sure. No facing losing my lovely mum to dementia. She's here physically, but I'm losing her a bit anxious about stress with a close relative over Christmas. First time out with work related stress. One word, this one lonely. Sandy in Dublin, weight gain during covid. Someone else, a conflict at work.


A pregnancy lasts. Separation from family moving away. Divorce. My boss is a bully. If I leave, I leave a permanent job. Cardiac surgery. And then there's another one here, and you want to talk about having the rug pulled out from under, you just received an autism diagnosis this year from my five year old son, finding it tough to contemplate what kind of life this means for him and us.


So I hear loss and. Struggle and injustice and shock, you know, a lot of and I'd say those feelings are replicated right across the country for different reasons and different lives. And that's where we start from. That's where we begin. And it's it's not an easy place to begin, but there isn't any other place for us to begin. And then the question is, you know, this this is this is difficult, but this could work out in a number of ways what might be a way that I would really could live with here, you know, being a difficult job with a boss sometimes, you know, I think sometimes it's not we you have to change.


It's our world that has to change. And sometimes and the problem with positive thinking, you know, this is going to be OK, this is going to be fine. This is going to be ground. It's it's it's not strong enough because the situation may be just unsustainable. It may be it may be that we need to move out from a situation that's very painful and difficult. So sometimes it's it's what I'm hoping for. Sometimes it's it's it's the change that needs to happen in my life.


And then I think what is helpful, what is helpful, what is helpful, what is helpful now. And, you know, that can be it can be something practical, someone practical. Most people most people in the research is very clear on this. Most people find when they have social support, when they have people to reach to, when they're embedded in kind of networks of support, they do very well. And that is the most powerful thing.


Bonnano is a man that I've mentioned. He he he he is perhaps the sort of German Farishta of resilience research. He's just done the most academic and scientific research over 20 years. And he is the guy who's looked at disasters and SARS and now covid and but also grief and also trauma. And one of his studies that was really interesting, he looked at 8000 people, soldiers who went to Afghanistan and the Gulf War and so on, and he was asked to track, you know, the impact of this on them and how they cope.


And he did this over a long time, very carefully with with people who went several times and a few times. And he found that most people coped fine. But the thing that was striking for him was that the group that had the worst experiences to deal with and who were the most successful of coping were also the group that had the worst health behaviors. They drank more than anyone else. They smoked more than anyone else. And you know, before it, the healthy Ireland run shrieking out.


I hate to see buildings everywhere. And when he looked at this, he found that actually the thing was they had this was very related to that. There are social cohesion. They were in tight groups of people were all of these things happened and they had fantastic support from their comrades.


And now that might be a funny image. But, you know, it is saying that that the first thing that some of your listeners may need is someone or some people. Yeah. You know, and that's that's where it begins. Yeah.


And like, look there flooding in. But I mean, if that that's one simple thing. And, you know, look, I don't want to wade into this war now and I'm no expert, but there is warning I could speak to there because that Lady Clare, who got their diagnosis for her child, she doesn't believe this now. And it sounds mad. Yes, but I. I know I know from 100 people that everything will be OK.


Ultimately, it's impossible to see her now. And I don't know what she probably should do now is go and talk to another parent who's who's a bit further down the road. That's what you're saying. All of these people, what they need to do is reach out.


Well, let me give you an image to me. This is the most beautiful image of resilience that I can think of. And it is the image of the redwood tree.


The redwood tree is the largest tree in the world. It lives for thousands of years. It is a symbol of resilience, of strength, of sturdiness.


The redwood tree, its roots only go down about five feet, sometimes six. What happens is a five foot, six feet, they turn and they they grow horizontally about 100 feet, and they join up with each other and they fused together and they're intertwined. And then what happens is there is exchange of sugar or nutrients or enzymes that each tree needs. So the strength that we receive when we look at a red wall, we couldn't imagine something more resilient is actually coming from being a community of belonging.


And I think that what for me, I think the secret of resilience for all of us is that we. We believe and we experienced that our lives matter to other people and, you know, we're connected and that the best present you can give anybody this Christmas is to tell someone that their life matters to you. And and that is the thing that keeps us, I think that insists that we forever begin, you know, that that is that that sense of that being alive matters.


It matters. And and I think there are people that that woman will reach to. There's a whole community of people who've been through that exact kind of moment of shock and have come through that and have a fantastic story to tell and and will help her to find her own story. And that's waiting for her.


Yeah, look, these are flooding in. I just want to read a few more and then we will go on to this one other thing. We're going to talk about living alone, awaiting test results, wondering is Christmas going to be safe? College student, unplanned pregnancy, broken heart, lonely, getting old, would love to meet someone and have a baby facing the limitations of M.S., finding life tough, slowly changing my mind and being kind to me.


And and, you know, it makes you feel, though, it's very it's very comforting in a funny way to hear that because you feel I feel less alone, you know, and you begin to realize that there's a whole community of people who are struggling with life in much the same way in different ways. But, you know, at heart, in the same way as many of us are.


Yeah. Now. Gloria Gaynor, oh, Gloria, survive. I think I mean, you know, because I've all my life to give and all my love to all my love life to live and all my love to give, I will survive. I will survive.


That song is in a minor key, you know, and it's got a disco beat over it. But there's the minor key that's always pointing to the tragedy that we've lived through and we've been through. When she was asked to sing the song, she was really in a bad place. You fractured her spine. She was not doing well.


And she was called over to record a cover of Substitute, which was a song in England that they wanted to recover. And they said, well, we have this thing to put on the beach side that was called I will survive. And she read it and she said, You must be kidding. This is a fantastic song. You'd be stupid to put this on the B side. And she recorded it, but she recorded it. If she's wearing a brace, you know, I mean, she she she could hardly move in the studio.


And I think that song has meant a great deal to people.


And it is I think, you know, one of the thing when we think about what would help, sometimes music helps, that it lifts us.


It energizes us. And I think that song is terrific.


Yeah. And, you know, songs can be kind of lose their punch from being overplayed. Yeah. When you listen to that song, again, bearing in mind when you are saying yes. Yeah. And then hearing that sadness in the melody is right, because of course, you know, all great disco songs have kind of tragedy and sad that they are so secret is that. Yeah.


But you don't think that you're going to have an upbeat song in a minor key that maybe it is that, you know, we acknowledge this in more depth, this whole endeavor that we're all involved in. But at the same time. Well, look, it's there. But let's, you know, a cry of resilience and maybe even a celebration. OK, Tony Bates, thank you so much. And you have very kindly also done us some excellent notes on this.


Almost an essay are some thoughts for people and all the reference. Yeah, and we won't put that up on RTG reference. Brandon.