Systemic resilience is just as necessary as individual resilience.
It is important to build awareness of the multisystemic factors that limit a collective, or an individual's resilience because awareness is the first step toward change.
The most transformative self-help programs including Alcoholics Anonymous begin with developing greater awareness of the issue. From here, people can evolve from powerlessness to empowerment, or from being a victim to a hero. It is undeniable that there are systemic flaws in society and by acknowledging them, accepting them, and stepping into power, we can create a movement of change.
Collectively, we are getting better at critiquing systems and one another. The #metoo movement, #blm, the data leaks of inappropriate political decisions, etc. have highlighted our power and ability to collectively hear one another’s struggles and protest the destructive and oppressive treatment that has been covered up far too long.
While caring individuals hopefully hear the cries, they are left feeling paralyzed with the overwhelm of the systemic issues and no solutions. How awful the truth can be. It is here where we need to do the work. Once issues are acknowledged, the best course of collective action is to be part of the change. This takes effort, vulnerability, action, and the willingness to risk the comforts of what we already know. By remaining and steeping in these comforts, the only result is fermentation and decay of our collective power. Systemic transformation requires buy-in from the people who make up the system.
Part of the mess we have found ourselves in is due to the fact that we contribute to its continuum. Likely, we don’t see it this way because we have not “done anything”. In fact, we have been good. We have done exactly what we were conditioned to do. What we need to consider is that passivity is a choice we were conditioned to see as a non-choice. We think we must sit back and observe because we are restricted to the limited roles we have signed up for. This is not the case. We must lean in and step up by choosing to act in our truth in each moment. A conscious revolution makes oppressors irrelevant.
Collectively, we get stuck in either the denial of an issue, or the critique of an issue. Rather than becoming paralyzed by the world’s issues syphoned through your phone screen straight to your amygdala catapulting you into a fight, flight, or freeze response, we need to begin to change the world within ourselves and our own lives.
Perhaps, if we connect deeper with ourselves and share our truth, we can move through the issues with integrity creating a more peaceful, loving, and harmonic world for the next generation to come. It is first ourselves we need to lead, then those around us, and eventually, the world. When we become very clear about the way we have been conditioned and the perspectives we have grown up around, we can see the choices we make are being made from limited options.
In Dr. Shefali’s book, A Radical Awakening (2021), describes that in the traditional systems we make choices from, the choices are already chosen by others. Like a buffet in a restaurant, we may have so many different options of food to choose from and we may feel a sense of autonomy, but perhaps we had no control over which restaurant we are in, or where the food came from, not to mention who is benefiting from our services in the restaurant.
When we step back and observe the power we can step into, we can move from a state of feeling paralyzed, to a state of feeling empowered.
We can take control and we can co-facilitate innovative and transformational systemic change.