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Resilience and Shower Spiders

There’s spider living in my shower at the moment.

This spider is tenacious. It has woven its delicate web all over my bars of soap and shampoo. And when I need to break the fine strands of gossamer thread to retrieve my bar of soap each morning, the spider scuttles away from dripping water, shelters for a while, then comes back out to rebuild it all once I am gone.

This spider got me thinking.

​I made a quick and obvious leap in my mind to the generalised way we marvel and boggle at nature’s ability to thrive in unlikely places. What comes to mind for you? New green shoots sprouting from charred tree trunks? Flowers growing in the stony cracks of an urban footpath?

I bet it’s not too hard to picture something.

So I looked at this spider and I thought about what most people would interpret from my shower scene. I reckon most of us would say ‘Wow. Nature is so resilient, nature really shows us the way. Isn’t that little spider a perfect example of endurance and ‘showing up’ and bouncing back from the hardship of having your web destroyed daily…’

And then I thought a completely different thought.
I noticed the new thought because I used to think ‘wow’ about the spider – just like most people would. I used to sigh deeply and emotionally at the things nature was appearing to teach me about resilience. I used to think I didn’t know how to do those things and that I needed to learn them, or try harder. I used to think that resilience was ‘doing’ and I must not be doing it right if I ever felt wobbly or weak. I thought nature was better at it than I was.

But my different thought struck me on this day because it was so completely new. And its newness was utterly refreshing.

My different thought was a question. I asked myself this, ‘Why, before now, did I never ask myself why humans believe they need to learn about resilience – yet spiders already know it?’
I mean, that spider has never heard of self-talk and imposter syndrome. It has never purchased an online course that will teach it the six simple steps to developing a daily practice for resilience.

Its existence is innately resilient. It knows how to be well. That spider oozes wellbeing and resilience, without trying.

Why did I ever think that humans were different to, and less able than spiders when it comes to resilience?!

Well, to be perfectly honest, I hadn’t ever thought about it this way before. I had never questioned the pervasive, mainstream message that resilience is elusive, hard-won, the domain of a few lucky ones, a bit rare and learning more about it took time and experience. The most common analogy I know of is that resilience is like a muscle and if you don’t intentionally work out, you’ll end up saggy and needing a physio. What I interpreted from this mental image was ‘you’re a little bit incomplete without this extra knowledge and skill around resilience – and you’ll need help to get the resilience exercises right’. It made me feel…pretty shit. And when I was feeling resilient, I felt it was because I’d been doing ‘stuff’ right.

To be fair, I saw some convincing clues and examples to suggest that resilience wasn’t consistent across the human race – some had it, some didn’t – that’s how it looked. I knew a lot of people were trying to work on it and they were having varying levels of success. I myself was busily questing from one holy grail technique to another, also trying to figure out how to crack the resilience code permanently.

What I have only recently begun to explore is the massive MISUNDERSTANDING that many of us are carrying about resilience. I’m 40 years old. I am slowly catching on to something fundamentally amazing.

If we believe we need to increase resilience levels in order to ‘do life right’, we’re overlooking the beautifully simple fact that (just like that little spider) we are ALREADY resilient. It is in us, it is there in our bones, it is our natural design to be well, to be resilient and to experience life fully.
Yes I know that sounds way out there. It’s also hard to see sometimes.

There are definitely days/times when we DO NOT feel resilient and we could question this beautifully simple system. Sometimes it really doesn’t look like we are resilient. Our daily experience might feel a million light years from the simplicity of a spider repairing one tiny web. But we are made up of the same stuff – operating under the same system that connects us to spiders, sprouting shoots and footpath flowers all over our planet. We often forget that and skip over our own unique place in this amazing ecosystem that is designed to thrive and bounce back.

I invite you to look in this direction, look for evidence of your wellness, your resilience. What do you notice when you ponder resilience in a different way? What would it mean for you if you could let go of all the thinking you have about DOING resilience and rest in the assurance that you ARE resilient, by design? Now that is magic! You are much like that little shower spider, living a naturally resilient life.

I have found such peace in this new place. A delicious sense of relaxation – it is a joy to take things off our mind when we understand how something actually works.

Try this affirmation. I see you shower spider. I am resilient too.

Wishing you warmth, delicious relaxation and spidery-ness.
Michelle x

Ps. If you want to dive deeper into the ‘oneness’ of us and nature, I really recommend this recent podcast episode by Dr Amy Johnson https://dramyjohnson.com/2020/01/ep80-the-nature-of-you-how-you-and-nature-are-one-and-the-same-with-teri-whiteman-and-claudette-dietlin/

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