05 May Developing mental resilience under the most dire circumstances
We’ve all faced situations in our lives where everything seems to be moving against us and the only way out appears to be a long slog forward. It could be a setback at your company, a lingering physical ailment or a bad set of co-workers. How do you move forward and develop mental resilience when the deck seems stacked against you.
I interviewed Chris Schumacher on the Rad Awakenings podcast. Chris murdered a friend (over some stolen drugs) and was sentenced to 16-years-to-life in some of the most dangerous prisons in California. He accepted a plea to avoid the death penalty, yet recognizing that as a “lifer” there was a good chance he never would leave prison.
He knew he couldn’t directly control if he’d ever be released. (In fact, when he started his sentence, governor Gray Davis was taking a hard line on lifers.) But he could control his own behavior, his mindset, his remorse, and his health. Chris adds:
This resilience can also be found in the story of holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, described in his book . Frankl lived under the most horrific circumstances as a concentration camp inmate, surrounded by death, including those of this wife, parents and siblings.
Yet “Frankl concluded that even in the most absurd, painful, and dehumanized situation, life has potential meaning and that, therefore, even suffering is meaningful” and that there’s choice in one’s action:
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