Our family watches the series Forged in Fire, a blade smithing competition, in which contestants spend four days making a final piece which is then subjected to brutal tests of strength, flexibility and sharpness. If the blade comes out in one piece and has the least amount of damage, that blade smith is declared the Forged in Fire Champion. The tests for strength are the worst, chopping blades into cement blocks, logs, steel drums, things that a blade is never intended to endure. There is one test in particular where as a family we cringe, a flexibility test where a blade, usually a sword, is placed tip down into a vice and the handle is pushed to an extreme, first one way, then the other. In the end the blade is assessed by seeing if there is any permanent warp or bend.
Watching these blade smiths heat, pound, and twist metal into shape has me thinking about resilience. Blade smithing is not easy. There are always problems encountered requiring adapting, coming up with a new plan or making something work, even if it is not pretty. Every time a contestant is eliminated they state how much was learned, are glad they competed, feel like they won because they showed up and produced a blade which met the parameters, tried something they had never done before, and always, always, they say they are going to go home and try again.
Just like there are blade smithing tools to create a resilient blade, one that can spring back into shape when pushed to an extreme, there are tools to develop resilience, to help us develop the capacity to recover from difficulties, to help us be aware of ourselves and situations, understand our emotional reactions and the behaviors of those around us, recognize the things we can control, and what to do when we can’t. This is the essence of resilience, learning to try new ways to tackle a problem. And just like a strong, flexible, sharp blade can be forged out of scrap metal, we too can be forged in the fire of difficulties and be declared champions.