Weebles wobble but…..

I wonder, as you read the title, whether you mentally completed the sentence? If so, it shows the power of advertising as it was a TV advert in the 1970’s. The slogan was ‘weebles wobble but they don’t fall down’, and the subject matter was a toy that however hard you pushed it simply rocked on its base and eventually came to a stop, still upright. Meet Zoe Zebra, my weeble!

Why am I talking about weebles? Well, as we come to the end of our first week of our third UK lockdown, if ever we needed to be weebles, it is right now. When a weeble is knocked lightly it gently tips backwards and forwards, while remaining upright and even when pushed hard it rocks and spins, but remains upright and eventually slows to stop. For me, the image of the weeble is a picture of resilience, reflecting someone who is pushed about by the events of life, but who doesn’t fall over, and after a time of rocking and even spinning is upright and still again.
So, what is resilience and can we acquire it?

Psychologists tell us that resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of trauma, grief, tragedy, stress and threat. In the midst of this pandemic, we can find ourselves facing all of those at the same time, and it’s no wonder that mental health is spiralling downwards and a worrying trend of more people needing anti-depressants than ever before. Being resilient doesn’t protect us from the events of life, but it does mean we can cope better with the trials that they bring. Resilience is not the epitome of the British ‘stiff upper lip’, and carrying on as though nothing has happened – that can be a brittle façade that could crack at any moment.

It`s true to say that some people are more resilient than others, but if you feel you need to become more weeble-like, there are a couple of things that you can do to pick up ‘weeble-traits’, (other than growing a large, round and weighted bottom!!).
The first thing is to look at negative situations realistically. Sometimes a negative situation can’t be changed, and we have absolutely no control – just as in lockdown right now. What we can do is choose how we respond to it. If we are passive in the midst of the overwhelming situation, and focus only on the negatives then our emotions can spiral out of control, brooding over what can’t be changed and growing our fears and anxieties. Weebles will look for a positive in the situation; will look for something, no matter how small, that they can control, eg how many steps they walk each day, or tackling a long overdue job one step at a time.

Another aspect of resilience is seeking support. It is a curious thing that those who allow others to see a degree of vulnerability are far more likely to increase their resilience than those who tell no one that they are struggling. I love the quote from Charlie Mackesy’s book ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’, where the boy asks ‘what is the bravest thing you have ever said?’ ‘Help’ replied the horse. Sharing vulnerability with someone else allows trust and relationship to develop, and we are the stronger for it.

Other things include being kind to yourself, and having a rhythm of sleep and exercise, and eating a healthy diet. An over load of news can cause the perspective of a situation to be lost, so maybe limit the information to a daily news bulletin instead of the rolling 24 hours news that is available. Filling our minds and spirits with good things, including the things of God. Sometimes it is hard to find God for ourselves when we feel out of control, and we need others to remind us that we are loved absolutely and unconditionally. “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever”. (2Corinthians 4 v 18 The Message).

So, resilient or not, the truth is we are children of a God who loves us and picks us up when we do fall over, and with his help we can stand firm, whatever the circumstances.

Suzanne Owen

This message was added on Monday 11th January 2021