Picturing what resilience looks like in your mind is hard. Resilience is not something you can touch and it’s a lot more than persistence. Resilience is an ongoing battle fought in your mind and it rages on and on. You can’t win the battle; you can only continue to fight it.
Taking steps to look after your wellbeing can help you deal with pressure, and reduce the impact that stress has on your life. This is sometimes called developing emotional resilience. Resilience is not just your ability to bounce back, but also your capacity to adapt in the face of challenging circumstances, whilst maintaining stable mental wellbeing. Resilience isn’t a personality trait – it’s something that we can all take steps to achieve.
The Importance of Resilience
Resilience (or resiliency) is our ability to adapt and bounce back when things don’t go as planned. Resilient people don’t wallow or dwell on failures; they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and then move forward.
According to the research of leading psychologist, Susan Kobasa, there are three elements that are essential to resilience:
- Challenge – Resilient people view difficulty as a challenge, not as a paralyzing event. They look at their failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from, and as opportunities for growth. They don’t view them as a negative reflection on their abilities or self-worth.
- Commitment – Resilient people are committed to their lives and their goals, and they have a compelling reason to get out of bed in the morning. Commitment isn’t just restricted to their work – they commit to their relationships, their friendships, the causes they care about, and their religious or spiritual beliefs.
- Personal Control – Resilient people spend their time and energy focusing on situations and events that they have control over. Because they put their efforts where they can have the most impact, they feel empowered and confident. Those who spend time worrying about uncontrollable events can often feel lost, helpless, and powerless to take action.
What does the day-to-day process of building resilience look like?
Resilience is relying on others.
Resilience might conjure up an image of a solitary figure stoically tackling the challenges thrown her way. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Resilience has a lot to do with leaning on the people around you and with developing strong, supportive connections. Friendships are shown to reduce stress and increase your lifespan.
Resilience is trusting your own abilities.
Gaining perspective and establishing trust in your own abilities can go a long way toward building resilience. Keeping a list of accomplishments you’re proud of can be a good reminder of times you’ve been resilient before — and the push you need to do it again.
Resilience is being kind to yourself.
Self-care is one of those “it” concepts that gets a lot of attention right now. It’s easy for the word to lose all sense of meaning tho, because it’s often the first thing that gets tossed out the window when things get hard.
The obvious basics can go a long way: exercise, sleep, and good food. But none of those habits will last long if you don’t give yourself permission to set boundaries — not just physical but also mental and emotional. You can shut down your computer and put away your phone at the end of the day, but it will do little good if you’re still worrying about stuff.
Resilience is knowing you can change the stories you tell yourself.
There are a lot of benefits to optimism. Studies suggest optimistic people are healthier, make more money and even fare better in relationships. It’s also a key component of resilience.
To change your outlook — and boost your capacity to deal with tough situations — the APA says to try to avoid seeing problems as insurmountable obstacles, to keep things in perspective, and to accept that change is a part of life. Other sources suggest focusing on the silver linings, to try to find the good, the lesson or the opportunity for growth and self-discovery in every difficult situation.
That is, obviously, easier said than done.
Renee Jain, the founder of GoStrengths, which provides social and emotional learning programs to schools, suggests teachers use a concept called the ABCs of Resilience to teach their students about building a more resilient mindset.
Adversity + Belief = Consequence
Let’s say two students both fail their math tests. If student X believes that one bad grade isn’t the end of the world and that studying will help, she’ll move forward with that action and likely get a better grade on the next test. If student Z thinks that getting one bad grade has ruined his chances at acing the class and there’s no point in trying, he won’t, and his grades will suffer even more.
“Optimistic and realistic belief systems combine to create a cornerstone of resilient mindsets,” Jain writes. “The great news is that once students learn the ABC model, they can hone in on their beliefs and begin fine-tuning them for greater optimism and accuracy.”
The key is remembering that, while you can’t always control the situation, you do have control over how you respond to it.
Resilience is taking the next step, even if it’s small.
Maybe more important than cultivating optimism is acting on it and this is what I find so hard to do, hence the ‘Just Do It’ (Nike logo saying in the last post I wrote). I have all the right information, I just can’t do it! It’s frustrating and I think it’s also the wrong time so I’m going to make a start tonight by asking myself some questions about what I’m doing and where I’m going and as someone said earlier, my subconscious will work on it and it’ll give me a hint of what lays ahead in the brain dump that I’ll do tomorrow morning. I’ve set reminders to do just that – now we’ll see if I follow it through…
Bounce back better than before by taking small steps towards resilience every day.