Born again into psychological resilience

What does ecological resilience research tells us about being born again?

As with all living beings, we follow the adaptive cycle.  We are born, grow quickly into a new being never seen before on earth, mature slowly while accumulating resources and progeny, and then die. Our children follow the same cycle, as do their children after them.

Ecological resilience theory labels these four stages as organization (alpha), rapid growth (r), maturity (K) and release (omega). Not only does every organism go through these stages, but all living systems do.  Forests, farms, communities, nations. 

The release phase is not just about death, though. A farmer plants seed, watches it grow quickly, mature and become brown dead plants.  But then he harvests the seed from the dead plant and begins the process again. Release only means death for the plant, not for the seed.

In us and all living systems, adaptive cycles are nested within adaptive cycles. We face disruptions in life and reorganize our life to cope with the disruption. I never went to daycare, lived in the country and had little contact with outsiders until I was sent off to school at 6 years old.  I didn’t like it and cried a lot, but I adjusted to the disruption, figured out how to adapt and became a different person. We all have several such disruptions in our lives.

But we also go through several motivational stages in our life.  We come into the world selfish, crying to get what we need.  We are focused on hunger and security and the family around us.  Once those physiological, safety and social needs are met, we can explore other needs. Toddlers, when they are fed, clothed and feel secure always venture out to explore their world.  They are satisfying the need for novelty, intellectual stimulation.

Then they start interacting with others their age and they seek to satisfy more social needs but also needs for respect and recognition. There’s always a boss of the playground or play group and you want to be that boss or be respected by her.

We deal with meeting those physiological, safety, social and esteem needs all through life.

Some of us are lucky enough to meet those needs and realize there is another level of need to be met. Some call it self-actualization, others call it serving others or realizing their creative potential, or being born again.

“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

Each of these motivational phases follows the adaptive cycle. We realize we have a need, we work to fill it, we become satisfied and mature in that satisfaction.  Then we realize there are higher needs to be pursued. We release our previous focus and reorganize our lives around the new need or idea or principle.

Some of us never seem to get the basic needs met and we get stuck in the physiological or safety or social or esteem needs. We can’t ever seem to get enough. We don’t realize that our depression or boredom isn’t due to lack of enough food or sex or friends or respect.  It’s due to the fact we can’t move beyond those basic needs.

Those of us able to focus on ideas and needs beyond the basics find that we can be born again many times into new perspectives on the world. And each of these new perspectives or ideas follows the adaptive cycle.

Every time you are born again you must realize this too shall pass and you will someday go beyond this perspective and reorganize your life once again, gaining  more and more resilience to disturbance as you grow.

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