If you have no resilience (and I can’t believe you have none) then you’re going nowhere, in fact you most likely going backwards. You’d better read on and take note.
I wrote a successful article last year on resilience, Pick yourself up, dust yourself off. Like all aspects of personal and professional development, resilience is not a drop in, read a book, do a course, see a personal coach option with immediate and sustainable change in habitual behaviour. Let’s face it, if that were the case we’d all be sitting under a pyramid meditating in the Himalayas comfortably contemplating our collective navels with not a care or indeed a need in the world.
So I felt it was time to revisit this really important skill that underpins all of the effort you’re putting into your development. Look at maintaining your resilience like an athlete would maintain the right diet. An athlete’s recovery is dependent on how well they prepare their body for events that test physical endurance, so they need to fuel themselves with the right food. Similarly, you must prepare your mind for events that will test your emotional/psychological endurance.
Psychology Today describes resilience as:
“that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after a misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and soldier on.” Psychology Today
Resilience is your personal suspension
In my earlier article, I described resilience as being like the suspension in your car – it’s the way to smooth out the bumps in the road and make the ride much more comfortable – but upon reflection, it’s more than that. It’s the security of a roadside auto service that visits when you’re broken down and gets you back up and running ASAP.
There are many things that knock you down along the way. Imagine if our inventors and researchers didn’t have resilience! We’d all be looking for a cave to rent and a supply of firewood! There are those who have natural and unconscious resilience and then there are the rest of us who need to be mindful of our reactions.
Of course we’re concerned here with psychological resilience. How do you deal with the constant change in the workplace; how do you deal with the flood of challenging news in the media, now that we have the unwelcome pleasure of viewing so many more tragic situations and disastrous events on the global stage; how do you deal with setbacks in your own personal quest for development; and how do you respond to the challenges in relationships, parenting, families and so on? That was a big list. I’m drawing on my resilience just thinking about it. We face all sorts of challenges continually, some big, some small, but as a collective, very significant.
How do we develop our resilience?
I found a great list of ways in which you can build resilience in an article titled 10 Ways to Become More Resilient by Kendra Cherry[ii] on the Psychology blog, so here’s my take on some of those.
Build positive beliefs in your abilities
Take time regularly to think about your many achievements and your strengths. I recommend you write them down somewhere (in a journal perhaps). I get lots of really positive and gratifying feedback and comments on my articles and I am collecting that now as part of my plan for building resilience.
Find a sense of purpose in your life
This might apply to life or it might apply to your role at work. I have a real passion for employee engagement and so I have made promoting employee engagement and best practice people management, one of my primary purposes/goals at work. . You probably have an activity, a cause, charity or community you’re passionate about – get into it!
Develop a strong social network
Know who the people you can depend upon are – those who are supportive and empathic. The author Brene Brown, in her books on vulnerability and shame, describes how she seeks out specific friends and siblings to help her when she needs support or empathy. It won’t be one person for all your challenges, so build a group you trust. Remember, there are reciprocal rights on this, so give as often as you are needed.
I love change. Sometimes that’s a burden because I get bored and stale easily, but it’s great for resilience. Resilience is all about getting bent out of shape and rebounding into the original or perhaps a better form. There are no opportunities without change, no growth and no development. Sometimes change can be really painful of course, but for every change there is nearly always a positive you can scrape from somewhere in the barrel and that’s where you have to learn to focus.
Positivity is an absolutely key ingredient
“Learned helplessness is the giving-up reaction, the quitting response that follows from the belief that whatever you do doesn’t matter. Explanatory style is the manner in which you habitually explain to yourself why events happen. It is the great modulator of learned helplessness. An optimistic explanatory style stops helplessness, whereas a pessimistic explanatory style spreads helplessness.” (Seligman M.E.P, 1990)
Also, check out my post Optimism. Nah…Wouldn’t work for me mate. for more ideas on getting positive.
Learn to recognise your emotions and reactions, particularly those associated with stress. When you know you’re heading down the wrong path, take some time to look after yourself. Nutrition, rest, sleep and activities you enjoy doing are all great medicine. Resilience is as much about prevention as cure. Be proactive and prevent stress-related illness, or at least react quickly before too much damage is done.
Get some goal action happening. Big, small, gargantuan or minuscule. Setting goals that are achievable, then monitoring and celebrating your progress is incredibly important in building your self-esteem, which is critical in resilience. As I always say, write them down (I do), so you can review them days, months and years later, particularly when you’re feeling challenged.
If I could leave you with one point, that is to make sure you practice. You can’t go to your wardrobe and throw on your magic resilience long johns / onesies and wear them around under your clothes for personal protection and the power to rebound. This is a skill to learn and a strength to build through practice. I hope you got some ideas from this post. Let me know what you do or what you will do in the comments below. Love to hear from you.
References: Seligman, M.E.P, 1990, Learned Optimism – How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, Vintage Books, USA.