I went to replace four hanging plants at a nursery this past weekend because they all died once the Texas heat made its appearance, despite being watered, placed in the shade, and talked to by my daughter and me.
While I was looking for plants that will hopefully survive the Texas summer, I was chatting with my husband, who cheekily said, “Those plants weren’t resilient.”
He, of course, knows my disdain for the word “resilient.” I have shared quite a few times this year why it makes me cringe so much. The term “resilient” has been thrown around so flippantly since COVID that it is a real buzzword now.
As I have told my husband before, I do not want to be resilient. Being resilient to me means you’ve survived a dumpster fire white-knuckling the whole way through at the brink of death but then manage to come out on the other side, traumatized, but still alive. Some might describe their experiences with COVID this way.
I believe there are ways we can be more proactive to fend off having to be too resilient too often.
I challenged him and said, “I do not want resilient flowers; I want hearty flowers. In fact, I want to be hearty.”
A quick Google search provided me the Webster Dictionary definition of the two:
Hearty means “vigorous and cheerful”; “strong and healthy”; “wholesome and substantial.”
Resilient means “able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.”
Looking at the image search is even more telling – hearty images show wholesome stews and soups, while resilient images show a human figure pushing a boulder up a hill.
I would much rather have a solid, hearty foundation than a resilient one marred with cracks, chips, and unevenness.
I worry that many organizations think “resilience training” is the answer, that if we all had a little more training in resilience, we would all be better for it. Honestly, I think resilience training is counterintuitive, exhausting, and a slap in the face to the person having to complete it. Retroactive resilience training when staff is already burned out just contributes further to their burnout and feelings of failure.
The need to provide resilience training suggests that our perceived lack of resilience is the core problem, that “if only you were more resilient, you’d be happier/less burnout/etc.” Perhaps we and our lack of resilience really isn’t the problem?
We all know watching a module on resilience, sitting in a lecture about mindfulness, being told to practice more yoga and breathing techniques does not make you feel less burnout. It’s having the support and buy-in from your workplace, to actually have the time to do the things that feed your soul and fill your cup. Adding more onto an already overflowing plate of life’s stressors only makes it heavier and more overwhelming.
I want support. I want authentic connection and compassion. I want someone invested in my well-being who prioritizes my self-care to prevent me from having to be perpetually resilient. I want someone who values my heartiness and helps to cultivate an environment that fosters continued growth for myself and others.
Michelle Owens is a palliative care physician.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com