The Donkey Resilience Fable
Written by Jess Mullins
Have you ever wondered how some people cope with life’s many unexpected twists and turns better than others? Why two individuals facing comparable life-altering events can end up on dramatically different paths? It’s called resilience.
Here is a little fable that highlights the importance of resilience in coping with life’s trials and tribulations.
The Farmer, the Well and the Donkey
A story of Resilience
Once upon a time there was a farmer whose donkey fell into a well. The farmer tried to get the donkey out, but the donkey was too heavy and the well too deep. The farmer decided that the donkey was old and the well needed filling in anyways. He called on his neighbours to help him fill the well with dirt.
As soon as the donkey realized what was happening he cried out in despair, but then, to everyone’s surprise, he quieted down. The farmer peered into the depths of the well and was astonished by what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that landed on the donkey’s back, he would shake it off and take a step up onto the dirt underfoot.
The neighbours and farmer continued to shovel dirt into the well and the persistent donkey continued to shake it off and step on top of it, using the dirt under his hooves to lift him higher and higher until eventually, he hopped out of the well and trotted off.
Moral of the story
There will be times when life shovels dirt on us. It is within our capacity to decide whether or not life’s “dirt” pins us down or lifts us up. The reality of life is that challenges, hardship, stress and trauma do occur; be it a breakup, the loss of a job, the unexpected passing of a dear friend, or something else. There is no way around it, life is full of difficulties.
What we do have as human beings, is the ability to express and process our emotions and to grieve, learn and grow from adverse events. In doing so, every setback we overcome has the capacity to teach us how to cope better down the line. This is called resilience.
What is resilience?
Resilience is not something that is present or absent, but instead is a set of behaviours, thought patterns and actions that can be developed and strengthened.
Resilience is the ability to adapt to, and “bounce forward” from adverse experiences, and ultimately, grow as individuals. After something significant occurs in our lives, we may not be the person we were prior to it, but we can be someone even stronger.
Resilience is our internal tool that helps us “pick up the pen” and continue writing our own personal stories, especially when life gets tough.