We have all at some stage been absolutely astounded at how well someone has managed to stay afloat – emotionally, psychologically and physically, through the most awful situation, and at other times have been deeply concerned about another’s lack of ‘buoyancy’ in the same situation. What makes these people different? It’s a skill or trait referred to as resilience.
Resilience is defined as: an ability to manage and recover from life’s challenges. It’s been noted as a key differentiator in situational management coping and recovery. Resilience isn’t a magic pill fixing all of your problems. It is all about bouncing back and recovering.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that resilient people are those with the stiff upper lip, toughing it out on their own. Resilience is all about asking for help when you need and using the resources you have available to you.
The Individual Dimensions of Resilience
This dimension includes a high level of self-confidence and self-belief, together with the ability to rise above challenges, and to see ways through them.
This provides a clear idea of what individuals really, really want to do and achieve. This enables them to approach challenges as though they are opportunities.
Flexible and Adaptable
This enables individuals to respond to changes, and view the world as a constantly changing place. Being able to adapt to change is key to being resilient.
In the face of chaos and increasing demand and time poverty, this contains the ability to focus on critical events and challenges requiring attention, and structuring activities that enable more important items to be addressed whilst leaving aside irrelevant distractions.
Resilient people get to grips with solving problems. They have the determination, tolerance and patience required to get to the bottom of problems, and by doing so, provide them with opportunities of resolving problems.
Interactions between people help to develop and sustain resilience. A positive interaction is where one person is attentive to another and demonstrates real interest, empathy and understanding. When this happens, normally the same level of attentiveness is reciprocated. People with high levels of emotional intelligence will also show high levels of resilience.
Social and professional networks can lead to genuine relationships between people because of their shared interests, and mutual support.
This includes the ability to be active in embracing challenges, and no simply reacting to them. This may include assertive behaviour that demonstrates a clear goal to be achieved, and determination in achieving it.
My Top 10 Tips for Strengthening Your Resilience
Some people are lucky enough to just ‘have’ the personality traits needed to get through the tough times, whereas some of us need a bit of help. Here are some ways to improve your resilience:
- “I’m in the process of building strength and confidence” – develop a positive self image; think of yourself in a positive way. You are worth getting through this as ‘safe and sound’ as possible!
- Keep up the network – resilient people ensure they are constantly building and maintaining their social networks. Your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours can be a great support network in a time of crisis.
- Positivity – use the ‘glass is half full’ mentality. When times are looking a bit dim, make sure you take time to appreciate the things that are going well.
- Take the lead in your own life – try to be proactive about the situations that are not great but that you can change. Everyone has to take responsibility for his or her own happiness, and unhappiness!
- Stop wasting time! – sometimes we have to realise that there are some things that we just can’t change. Stop banging your head against the proverbial wall, and put your energy into working with it or around it.
- Keep you eye on the prize – always have your destination in mind; what are your goals? What kind of person do you want to be? There are always going to be set backs, but by staying focussed on the goal, you can stay motivated and in the driver’s seat.
- Optimism – do your best to maintain a positive outlook and look for the positive outcomes. These may be difficult to find at times, but they are in there somewhere!
- Never stop learning – every event or disaster has a lesson to be taken away. Consider what you are being invited to learn from the experiences and circumstances you are in. Do your best to take the new knowledge forward. You never know when it may come in handy!
- ‘Selfish’ = Self Care – make sure that you take care of yourself. Tend to your own feelings and needs whether they are mental, physical or emotional. The hard times can be even more difficult if you don’t have your health. Take time out for the things that you enjoy doing and fuel your own tank.
- Attitude of gratitude – life is abundant and there is always something to appreciate and be grateful for. When you focus on what you ‘have’ rather than what you ‘don’t have’ you realise that you are enough, your life is enough, have you have around you is enough. You can feel good any time you want…for free! It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Can you can share it with others – it’s a way for others to feel good too.
These skills don’t appear over night. They take practice and perseverance but the dividends are worth ten times the effort. If you are trying these out and you don’t feel like you are progressing or developing, or just don’t know where to start, don’t be afraid to ask for help – speak to your GP or mental health provider or a good life coach (hint hint 😉 )
Want to build more resilience?
Regulating your emotional responses and consciously choosing your outlook and approach are vital elements in ensuring success. Learn about the brain to understand how to become more resilient, so that you are the creator of your experiences not simply a victim of circumstance.
Join Dr Jeffrey Schwartz and myself in this online course based on his book You Are Not Your Brain.