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3 things you MUST know about initiation and resiliency

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1. Initiation is a part of our legacy.

The initiatory experience of separation-ordeal-homecoming has been around as long as human beings have existed so it is a very natural part of our lives. Why was it developed? So we could have a framework for becoming resilient and able to bounce back from adversity.

2. Initiations are essential for growth.

How do we learn to be independent in life? We start out being separated from our parents by going to school. Through the ordeal of school (ordeals don’t have to be terrible; sometimes they are merely challenging), we learn about the world and ourselves, slowly gaining maturity. Graduation is a homecoming where we are celebrated for all we have learned and our new status as an adult.

As we continue life as an adult, initiatory experiences help to teach resiliency skills and to mature us even further into valued members of our “village.” While I did not want to go through the initiation of grief over the loss of my partner, I do honor and value the lessons I learned along the way that have allowed me to help others in their grief. I also learned what I need to be resilient in adversity: loving friends and family, the ability to accept the moment as it is, and the understanding that new perspectives bring. These lessons have helped me make it through tough times that followed my time of grieving.

3. Initiation brings purpose and meaning to life events.

One of the essential skills of resiliency is learning to find meaning in life events. This is what Joe discovered as he faced a new initiation in his life. The process of being separated from what we know and are comfortable with, going through some kind of challenge or ordeal, and then bringing our new knowledge home helps us identify this purpose and meaning in adversity.

Takeaway points: Initiation is a vital part of the human experience in that it helps us to grow, learn, and find new meaning in life’s challenges.

Next time: Examples of initiation experiences in movies and books.

What have you learned about resiliency through your own initiations?



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Bobbi Emel is a therapist who helps people in Los Altos, Palo Alto, Mountain View and the greater Bay Area manage their stress and develop their strengths.
She is effective in helping people dealing with anxiety, worry and grief; and also those who want to improve their effectiveness and performance.