‘If you learn something from a defeat it isn’t a loss’. Autumn Worcester
Resilience is a process we go through, by building it as a skill we have in life, in being able to cope in a multitude of situations. Reading through some of my favourite authors, researchers and social commentators I can start to see some key threads that make up a resilient person. I used to say that I would go to battle each day in my old jobs, it was always said a bit tongue in cheek, but some days I would feel defeated and only just surviving, and others I’d feel like I dominated and thrived, so exactly what is it that allows us to bounce back?
You can only look at what is happening all around us in the world, the strength of people to persevere in war-torn countries and through disasters, a pandemic, who make the battle I speak of above, determining the size of a logo, feel really insignificant. Look at all the communities that endure droughts and floods, how nature regenerates itself through bushfires, floods and tsunamis. It feels like the world is crying out for respite or a break at the moment – and from contradictory angles. We’re more overweight yet diet obsessed or have nations starving, there are generations of depressed and medicated people, we’ve become more abusive to ourselves and the environment than ever before yet there is a sense of positivity and optimism for the future when you look at my industry of personal development and coaching. So much has changed from our grand parents generation where resilience was demonstrated through the attitude of ‘keep calm and carry on’ and hiding your true emotions. Today we’re happy to express our vulnerabilities – so how do we cope through all these seeming contradictions?
In my view I see that every day we’re given an opportunity to re-birth in a sense, to see what is placed in front of us, to keep going through the process of life and it’s tasks, and make it that little bit better through being aware of and investing in our own growth capacity.
Here are some conclusions from my research on what the experts agree are the factors that make up resilient people:
They are resourceful and have good problem solving skills
Resilient people are able to overcome difficulties, or see a way to improve your situation. This may include circumstances from childhood, poverty, education, skills or emotional intelligence. They see problems and challenges as opportunities, or at least something they can figure out.
They are more likely to seek help
They don’t see themselves as victims, but rather start to take responsibility for their place and view of the world. Monitoring and being aware of their thoughts, emotions, behaviours and connection with self, others and the environment. They aren’t afraid to say they don’t know, and they are willing to find out.
They hold the belief that they can do something that will help manage their feelings and to cope
This can be especially prevalent in people who have been specific traumatic events, but also everyday challenges. There is an inherent belief that things will be okay or will work out. Resilient people choose to accept their feelings as appropriate responses to experiences – and not judge them as right or wrong. It’s okay to grieve, be sad, disappointed, joyful, envious, but the secret is not to dwell on it or feel like it needs to be eradicated.
The have social support available to them, and are connected to others, such as family and friends
Seeking out connection with others and not isolating themselves. Taking interest in how other people are, building a sense of community and having interests in your life. This could be face-to-face, speaking with others over the phone, and even online communities. Research also shows that making a positive difference in the lives of others can evoke strong physical and emotional improvements in ourselves as well.
Experiment a little…
Can you see how some areas of your life could be abundant in resilience or perhaps lacking a little and you’re able to build up some strength in this area?
Psychologist Sally-Ann Lauder provided me with the following qualities of resilience, how many do you think you have, or are able to do?
- Take care of your emotional and physical health, vitality and fitness
- Gain an awareness of your thoughts, values, beliefs and coping style
- Understand negative thought patterns that sabotage your goals
- Accept and appreciate the differences in others
- Develop problem-solving skills that focus on the solution rather than an emotional response
- Develop the ability to walk in other people’s shoes
- Learn how to deal with your successes and failures
- See all challenges as an opportunity to change, grow and improve
- Work on improving your communication skills
- Accept responsibility for your actions and take control of your life
- Develop proactive connections with people around you
- Assist and support others to build their resilience.