Updated: Jul 16
I have previously written about the different things that impact us, from the tiny feel of a raindrop on our skin, to the powerful influences of politics, the media and nature on our society.
Here I explore our reaction when these influences have a direct and significant impact on our reality. At the moment the obvious challenge facing us all is the global pandemic. I have been interested to hear individuals refer to the need for different ‘types’ of resilience in different scenarios. Examples include a difference between ‘personal’ and ‘professional’ resilience. Whatever your context, have you considered how healthy your resilience is?
Through this and my next blog, I hope to help you develop an understanding of what resilience is, what your relationship with resilience is, and how you can build and grow your resilience to help you now, and at any time in the future.
How do you react when things get tough?
I have heard this word, resilience, a lot over the last few months. Through work with clients, my own reading, as well as exploring the meaning for me personally, I have come to realise how many different interpretations of this word there are.
Whatever your current challenge, which one of these best describes you?
Thick skinned – are you determined that you won’t let anything affect you. Do you wear a ‘coat of armour’ that prevents stuff impacting you?
Positive mindset – is it all about finding a positive, quickly distracting yourself with something, anything else, that takes your mind off the unpleasant stuff?
Coper – focus on the end, this can constitute a distraction, but this specifically orientates you towards coping until whatever it is, has gone away.
Controller – focus on what you can control, no point worrying about the stuff you can’t, you feel better knowing you’re in control.
What resilience - that’s for people far ‘better’, ‘more intelligent’, ‘stronger’ than you, you can’t cope with anything, you find the slightest thing overwhelming
Anger – You shouldn’t have to be resilient if everyone else was doing their job properly this wouldn’t be happening.
You may have your own way of describing your relationship with challenge and change. I’d love to hear them.
What does science tell us?
There seems to be a general consensus that resilience is our ability to return to our pre-event state, following a disturbance of some sort that disrupts our usual state. I wonder how many of us ever enjoy a real sense of relaxation, of complete calm, and rest. For some I suspect, there is a regular maybe persistent state of unrest, that has become their normal. I will focus on this in future blogs.
Some suggest the time taken to return to our pre-event state is a measure of our resilience. This might be useful for some, but I can quite believe that for others, the time element adds another pressure that might inadvertently undermine the process of return.
But let’s assume that our ability to return to a pre-event, positive state is the definition of resilience, and let’s assume the more quickly we return to that state the more resilient we are.
This definition requires a degree of awareness. An awareness of your usual state. An awareness of when that changes, and for what reasons. I want to highlight that resilience is not considered to be our ability to never feel uncomfortable or negative in some way, rather that negatives are a very ‘normal’ and healthy part of being a human.
So what does this mean for you?
Based on these scientifically accepted factors, and in the spirit of supportive challenge, I want to pose the following questions to each of our previously mentioned relationships…
Thick skinned: If you block out the difficult stuff, how can you use it to grow and thrive? What are you missing out on through wearing such a thick armour?
Positive thinker: As for our thick skinned friends, if you don’t feel it, how can you use it to inform your future choices and decisions? What might you be missing out on?
Coper: What if your situation can’t or won’t return to how it was?
Controller: What do those things outside of your control have to offer, what might they tell us if we just take a minute to look, listen, consider? In our current situation, nature is quite clearly in control, what do we have to learn from that? What is actually at risk if you were not in control?
What resilience: What is the toughest thing you’ve experienced? And you’re here to tell the tale, so on whatever level you do have resilience. Resilience isn’t about intelligence or any other differentiation you care to identify between you and anyone else.
Anger How is your anger serving you? Is it helping you focus and take a necessary action? Is it clouding your thoughts, perhaps driving actions that you later regret?
The good news is we all have the capacity to grow our resilience. In my next blog I hope to share ideas to help you grow yours.