S3E12 Resilience

Dr. Pete introduces the nature of resilience in psychology and living while Dr. Rubin reminds that resilience is connected to grit. She named the ingredients as: grit, connection, love and connection, and compassion. There was a moment of disagreement, which does not happen often between these two, when it came to grit. It was a true east versus west conversation since Dr. Pete uses that word at least twice a day for the past 15 years and Dr. Rubin recently found herself describing grit in session. You do not want to miss this episode to learn about cultivating resilience.




Pete: So, these days you'll hear a term often called resilience, and it's something that some of us have, some of us don't. And let's break it down. Dr. Nikki, what do you think?


Nikki: I’m thinking about the term Dr. Nikki. [Crosstalk 00:35]. 


Pete: Honestly, I go back and forth with like, people on my team where you'll be like, Dr. Chelsea, Dr. Torres. Like, I just go back and forth, it's very confusing.


Nikki: I think it's very sweet. Listen, no one calls me Dr. Nikki. People either call me Nikki, or they call me Dr. Rubin but never Dr. Nikki, just Pete. Yeah, resilience. I'm so glad they we're talking about this today because it's obviously an important not just concept, but it's a practice, right?


Pete: Yeah.


Nikki: It's like something that we can develop as humans and you know resilience is something that there is a whole wing of like psychological science where they study this. I guess maybe what I would say is like; humans have an immense capacity for resilience. It's like, there's a lot of things that are, I'm not going to say this in a very kind way, but very dumb about our species.


Pete: Yeah. 


Nikki: Resilience is not dumb. Resilience I think is one of the most wonderful, inspiring things about being a human. 


Pete: That's motivational. I love hearing you say that. It is, it's almost like love in a way, I feel, because there are infinite amounts of it. And I'm not familiar with the research per se, but one thing I find interesting is like, even with like some twin research that you might find one more resilient than the other. You know, or like veteran research, because resilience is about sort of endurance and perseverance. And so two people have the same exact experience and one ends up becoming, you know, pretty significantly impacted and the other one not. And so, that's the art of what we do. I often say, and I'm sure you do too, like, what I do is a science and an art.


Nikki: Absolutely. And look, I think what you're getting at and yes, Peter and I are not researchers and resilience’s,  so we're less familiar about sort of the nitty gritty details But from what I do know, it's like different factors can influence it, right? So just like with anything, so obviously biological factors could influence it. Like if somebody has like very, very, very severe mental illness, right?


Pete: Yeah.


Nikki: That may contribute to a decreasing one's ability to cultivate resilience or maybe there are so many environmental factors that get in the way. But, but again, I keep saying may because that being said, like that's also what's kind of amazing about resilience. It’s that think of all the humans you've ever read stories about or known personally where they've experienced maybe unbelievable trauma or traumas. Yeah. Or do experience some unbelievably severe you know, physical or emotional difficulty or illness and they come back stronger, you know, more solid.


Pete: It's like an exercise. I love that you just said cultivate resilience because I think the definition from APA is, ‘Successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences especially through mental, emotional and behavioral flexibility.’


Nikki: Yeah.  


Pete: And so that is really what resilience is. And there might be a listener who's not feeling very resilient in this moment and that's okay because we could always bounce back. like resilience, it ebbs and flows, I think, you know, you could look at it from a bird's eye view where maybe one's life has been resilient because they've had significant childhood challenges. You know, things of that nature or you could just be going through something in this moment that is super challenging And then you find ways to mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally adapt. Because, oftentimes you don't have a choice. And that's where the east comes in, the east says, what is in front of you is in front of you.


Nikki: That's right.


Pete: You know, where your feet are is where your feet are. So it's often not a place that we want to be. Maybe not often, it can be a place that we don't want to be. 


Nikki: Well, it's funny because I hear a lot clinically from folks and you said, it's like we don't have a choice. And what I'll often say is, well here's the thing, we actually do always have a choice about how we respond. 


Pete: That's right.


Nikki: But again, that's the only thing that we ever have a choice about is our behavior and how we respond to what's put in front of us. We never get to choose what's put in front of us. I'm going to use the word again because I think it's important, is when you're cultivating resilience Which is moving through difficulty and then digesting it. And integrating it into you, you know.


Pete: Yeah. 


Nikki: And I think, you know, it's something that we can build and it's like a muscle. 


Pete: Yeah. It's totally muscle. I love that you just said that because I think that's often a metaphor I use where it's like, if you're having back pain, you have to get your back stronger so you're going to do some back exercises. Because sometimes someone who might feel like, oh, throws your hands up, Like, I'm just not resilient. My brother did it, sister did it better, whatever versus like, no, this takes work.


Nikki: It takes work. I guess I'll say it this way, it’s like when we encounter struggle or difficulty or hardship in whatever degree in our lives and everybody is going to experience varying degrees of that. Yet no one escapes life without experiencing something difficult, unpleasant, right, something that's a struggle. You are not you like or anybody, a one's willingness to again, like I said, allow that move through and experience it is what creates the opportunity to build resilience. And it's funny because recently in a lot of my sessions I've been talking with people about grit.


Pete: Yeah.


Nikki: Like the value of grit, because it's something I think we don't like talk about enough, at least in like American culture. You know, at least now, I don't know, maybe like, that was more of a topic or an idea of like a hundred years ago, but it's like sort of like lost its popularity. It's like just not a concept people talk a lot about, and I've been talking to folks a lot about grit and how that's related to resilience. And I asked somebody recently, it's like, Oscar, what does that mean? And they're like, yeah, it’s like a digging deep, but with wall allowing, like, it's not bulldozing something. 


Pete: This is going to be insulting to our New York, New Jersey listeners because grit is like just as common as like saying water.


Nikki: That's true, that's true. 


Pete: I'm thinking this is an East coast concept.


Nikki: Well it's funny that you're saying that, I think it's like the very New Yorker for sure.


Pete: No doubt. You know, that's what I'm saying. I'm around that word all the time, especially in sport. And I happen to work with a bunch of teams where grit is pretty much the predominant culture.


Nikki: That's cool. Yeah. But I wouldn't say all of it. I mean, again, nobody get mad at me here. I wouldn't say I've experienced that in all of the East coast, I would say it's very like, regionally specific, you know.


Pete: New York, New Jersey. No doubt.


Nikki: Exactly. And to that point, it's not very like American to talk about holistically, you know what I'm saying?


Pete: Yeah. It's so funny to me though, when you were saying that, I was literally like puffing my chest out. Like you said what? 


Nikki: It’s so funny.  So, say more about that because again, I'm so glad that that's saying you rest because I'm like that's a part of cultivating resilience is connecting to grit.


Pete: Absolutely. And one of the things I find is that sometimes people are looking for the grit and I think to cultivate it, it's just there and it's sort of like, you know not every great athlete becomes a good coach, you can't just create grit. 


Nikki: You're right. So I'm going to challenge you a little bit because I would say, I kind of conceptualize it and that's why I'm talking about it with patients is like it's a value, right?


Pete: Yeah. 


Nikki: So it's something we can connect to. So yeah, you can't just like, make it out of thin air, I can't say everybody's, there's no always, but like, I think many people can connect to grit. I think this is like the human thing I'm talking about, I think it's a part of being human, but a lot of people don't recognize or realize that it's something that they have within them to connect to. Do you know what I mean by that?


Pete: Yeah. And I'm thinking it's because it's intrinsically motivated. So I think that that's where grit is, so that's why it's immeasurable and yes, you can cultivate it. But what ends up happening, especially in sports, is that everyone has seen like an ESPN 60 or something, a story that has an athlete who had a very challenging life and then all of a sudden created, you know, became one of the best.  That’s their grit, you know, their why. That's what has gotten them intrinsically motivated to perform. So, I think it's about finding the why. So yes, it can be built, but I do think it's inherent in people and that is resilience because, you know, the adversity that they've experienced has created grit.


Nikki: It's funny, I think I like see it in a slightly different way so, I conceptualize it more as what you're saying is sort of like that's the building resilience and building resilience is fueled by connecting to grit, right? Because, again, I'm thinking about some folks I'm working with right now that, it's like they were having trouble connecting to grit. 


Pete: Yeah. 


Nikki: They're going through some things that were really, really hard and I was really trying to distinguish between, I didn't want them to bulldoze their way through it. Right. Yeah. I didn't want them to say like, just grit your teeth and bear it. It's like, no, no, no, this is really hard and I want you to bring like compassion and love and kindness to yourself about how hard this is and I want you to like be in the hard.


Pete: Yeah.


Nikki: And then I was framing it as I want you to connect to grit, like it's something within you but it wasn't based in something else. Does that make sense? It's like something that I was saying like, it's in you, but you're not honoring it. 


Pete: Yeah, you're not connecting it.


Nikki: And then that's going to build the resilience, do you know what I mean?


Pete: I do. And I just put it on our list for another episode. So we are going to do an episode on grit. One of my friends recently this weekend said, oh, you know, ‘When East Meets West popped up on my podcast list and I listened to something, you guys were great.’ He's like, ‘but it was a little monotone like, you guys should argue more or something.’ That was what he said. 


Nikki: Excuse you.


Pete: Hey Eli's from Israel. So I was like, maybe he wanted a little more like fiery cultural stuff.


Nikki: Right, right.


Pete: That's what he and I talked about. 


Nikki: No, Pete and I don't really argue very much.


Pete: Yeah. Well, but maybe we're going to have an episode on grit.


Nikki: We'll, maybe we will. So I think what you and I am saying though, we're saying that grit and resilience are inherently intertwined. And so resilience, again, for listeners, it's like it is moving forward in one's life, right? It's like I said, even in the presence of something hard and this is why I'm using this language because I like it for myself. It's like digesting it and integrating it into a part of who you are.


Pete: Totally. It's how you view and engage the world, It's also I think an important piece of it is how you cope, you know? So coping strategies, which we've done in season one. And then the last piece is a social resource, I think that is a piece of it that's important to acknowledge because, you know, I'm resilient. I'm going to put that out there, I'm owning it. And part of why I'm resilient is because I go to acupuncture, I can afford therapy, I get massages often, I have fancy gym memberships. You know, those resources, they help me stay resilient.


Nikki: Totally. Though, I will say for your friend Eli, I was challenge Pete again, this one's for you, Eli. Yes. Those things are great things to like, take care of oneself. However, I would say like, you don't need those things to be resilient though, That resiliency, and this is where I would love to bring it back to like, you know, an eastern perspective. It's like, when Buddhism was created thousands of years ago, you know, they didn't have fancy gym memberships, right?


Pete: No.


Nikki: And it's like what these concepts were about, back to what you said, Pete, it's like this is within us, this is within our ability. It's like to open up and accept and allow whatever pain is in front of us and allowing that to make us stronger. I mean, other things they would say….


Pete: Okay, so what our social resources are a part of that too, so that could be like community.


Nikki: Absolutely.


Pete: Right, and not everyone have that.


Nikki: Yeah. Well that would be something that like we are a social species.


Pete: That's right.


Nikki: And so, like, leaning on others for support, whoever that is, like we can't build resiliency in a vacuum. We need frankly love and connection, those are essential ingredients. You know, I guess what I'm clarifying for myself is I'm talking at lots like, I would say in such ingredients to re-build resiliency is our grit, connection and love, compassion, right?


Pete: Yeah. Love and connection, which we've done episodes on all of these topics. 


Nikki: We have talked a lot on the internet. 


Pete: So who's listening? Yeah. I think we have like almost 85 or 90 episodes at this point. But, you know, I think this is interesting because this seems like this is an area where this could also be another episode. Because, here's the thing, we're all going to go through times where we don't feel resilient, We feel like the world has just beat us and that we can't go on. Now that doesn't mean I'm necessarily suicidal, it just means that like, I feel like I want to crawl on a ball and maybe just stay in my bed for a couple days. You know, that's okay, that doesn't mean you're not resilient listener.


Nikki: That that's right.


Pete: What it means is every time, like you said Nikki, we have to just reset, you know, and so the ability to reset is that flexibility. And I think that that has become probably one of my more favorite words, you know, from third wave CBT is just the idea of being flexible. And it's funny because my one of the teachers who organized all of our talks for the Zen community she's changed my like date like four times in the last like two weeks. And every time I'm like, yeah sure, that's fine. You know, and the last time she said, Roshi replied, Peter is very flexible. 


Nikki: You're like, thank you. 


Pete:  Well, I'm both a galloping horse and very flexible. 


Nikki: Yeah. 


Pete:  But you know, this is good. So maybe we have another episode on this at some point. So listeners, as you consider whether you're resilient or to build, cultivate more resilience, I'll leave you with this quote. “Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence.”  This has been When East Meets West. I'm Dr. Pete Economou.


Nikki: And I'm Dr. Nikki Rubin. Be present. Be brave.


Pete: This has been When East Meets West, all material is based on opinion and educational training of doctors Pete Economou and Nikki Rubin.


Nikki: Content is for informational and educational purposes only.