Too much is happening in today’s complicated world that if you are alone it is much lonelier than it was in the 70’s and the 80’s. It is tough out there and it is getting tougher. So many things have contributed to the complications of this decade that it is getting more and more high wired. First is the bludgeoning effect of social media, Instagram, Facebook and snapchat. Second is that desperate need to be like the joneses, something we did not feel that much pressured about when we were growing up. Add that to new and extreme leisure needs from drugs to extreme sports and the need to live more and more dangerously to get a rush. There is also the rise in driving under the influence, relationship challenges are at an all-time high and filial bonds are getting weaker by the day as fathers and sons are having a moment of major disagreement and mothers no longer understand their arguing daughters and vice versa. Something happened to society and dug deep into our very souls and unnerved us. Wars and bizarre killings are now front-loaded on television news networks that it is so easy to become depressed if you watch television news channels carpet to carpet. There is very little to cheer you up. The world has changed so drastically and technology has been a major part of this seismic shift. The internet has brought with it good and in several instances evil which includes child pornography, murder, suicide, serial killers and school murderers. It is an incredible time to be alive.
Resilience – that quality described by psychologists and psychiatrists as the ability to tough it out and be strong in the face of challenges and difficulties is not given to everyone. Some are born with it, others have to learn it and others still have to consciously build it. It is like working that muscle when you are working out and sweating it off at an exercise routine. Building inner core and watching yourself transform to a lean, toned better version of yourself. Resilient muscles can be built with practice. While it is easier said, trust me, it is possible.
It is fair to say we do not all possess this resilience of a thing but most of us are not trying to build it even in the smallest of things. Watch a family and see those who possess it are more often than not the ones who recover better when there is a challenge. Daunting as they are, we all deal with bankruptcy, grief, a broken heart, differently. There are those who have positive energy and continue to tell themselves it will get better no matter how bad it gets and there are those who are completely shattered by tragedy, a bad patch, love gone sour and have a hard time recovering. Others may never recover.
I have often heard it said that Nigerians are resilient people. While this is true to some extent, we also have among us a lot of vulnerable people. We have different personality types and therefore have different reactions to poverty, sadness and happiness. Two classmates at exactly the same position two years ago may have different outcomes in their lives down the road. It’s down to hard work, personality types and a bit of luck. Amongst our children, there are differences. Some take scolding better than others, some retain the family bad times in their head while others clean forget. Some are more sensitive than others while others are troopers. As a parent one must keep an eye on all these differences and validate children according to their strengths while gently working their weaknesses without necessarily dwelling on it. Children remember a lot of things, harbor a lot of things and are resentful of a lot of things. Children also remember happy moments, a kinder parent, a special aunty or Uncle. They file these things away in a memory card and it returns at the slightest challenge they have as adults more virulently. When you constantly tell a child he is awkward or she is not good enough, they carry it into adulthood and their memories are triggered by a nagging wife or a non-supportive husband. Parents be careful. Don’t say is it that small thing I used to say to her that you are saying is now making her a serial divorcee? Don’t say, just because I used to beat his mother when she misbehaved is not an excuse for him to be violent and almost kill his wife. They were both nine years old when these things happened but they never forgot it. When you walk out of your family, especially the men, do you think that little girl old enough to be your daughter is worth the destruction of your children, the wife of your youth? When you bad mouth your husband all the time, how will that help your boys to be strong male role models and allow your daughters marry a decent man. Part of our duties as parents is not to bring up monsters. Today there are so many of them walking the street, looking okay but have gradually fallen apart. They do not know who they are and cannot even recognize love. This is where we all come in, where talk therapy is the new drug for maintaining a level of happiness, where a listening ear can be the difference between suicide for a brother, friend or sister and staying alive. To be our brother’s keeper is the next big thing to heal society but how do we even begin to go about it. Next week we bring you highlights of how together we can move mountains.