Resilience is defined as 'being able to positively function in the face of adversity', it is our psychological resilience, our spirit and flexibility to adapt to situations as they arise.
It is protecting yourself from the negative effects of the things that create ‘stress’.
It is the ability to be able to bounce back, or as I prefer bounce forward
Many definitions describe it as our ability to cope in a crisis and our return to pre-crisis status.
The latter part of this definition I feel in dispute with.
Can you return to pre-crisis status?
Can you bounce back to who you were before?
Do you use the bounce to launch you forward?
When you experience adversity, you grow, you evolve, you find new strengths, new skills, and identify character traits and coping strategies. This, to me, means that returning to who you were before, is not therefore possible.
Even if you were to experience the same situation again, it would be a newer version of you, you would manage and approach the situation in a different way.
Do you think you can go back to the ‘old-me’?
Do you focus your energy on moving forward?
Being resilient helps us to increase our confidence in our ability to cope and manage situations that inevitably arise in life.
When we experience challenging times, we learn more about who we are. We may reach out and connect with others for support, it is often a kindness we 'pay forward', offering to help others who are facing similar challenges.
Resilience helps us to build our tolerance, we learn to get comfortable with that feeling of being uncomfortable, and it is the 'knowing' that the feelings will eventually pass.
Finding positive strategies to cope with these feelings, rather than avoiding or numbing them, is key to building your resilience.
You may not be able to control the situation, however, you can control how you respond to it.
Find ways to help you move forward through the situation, with actions, and work through your feelings and emotions and what they mean.
7 Areas to Focus on when Building Your Resilience
*Based on the 7 'C's Model of Resilience by Dr Ginsburg, a child paediatrician and human development expert. This was created to help parents and those working with young people to develop their resilience and coping strategies to thrive.
N.B. The 7 Components are his.
The text and advice around them are my own based on my training and experience.
~the ability to do something successfully or efficiently.
'Knowing' that we have the tools and resources to overcome a challenge is often a key element. This does go hand in hand with confidence.
Often, other people see our potential and capability before we see it ourselves. If we are facing a challenge or adversity we may look outside of ourselves for reassurance in our competence, to be able to overcome what we are facing.
Competence is likely to be made up of behavioural and technical skills. If you haven't experienced this challenge before, ask yourself; what skills will you need and where have you used these before? This can reassure you that you have what it takes to overcome, even if the specific challenge is new to you.
Don't forget to reflect afterwards, on the skills you have used, and where you have increased competence or found new competence that you will be able to use again in the future.
It is natural to look at the negative elements first. What in this situation is new and unfamiliar, what are we missing that we think we will need, and how do we face something we haven't faced before?
Focus on the positive, what do you know? What elements have you overcome before, and what tools have you got in your toolbox that will help you to work through this?
There are often more areas of competence than we first realise.
~the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something.
Action - 'Do Confidently'
Feeling - 'have confidence'
What is the difference? (Read more here in the blog 'How Can I be More Confident'?)
Internal confidence is confidence in your own skills and abilities, not having to rely on the validation of external praise and words.
Having confidence in your competence is resilience. You know you have the skills and abilities to overcome the challenge in front of you.
The more we place ourselves in situations where we have to do something confidently, the more we achieve.
The more we achieve, the more we validate our ability to do something.
The more we validate our ability, the more we have certainty that we can achieve.
This certainty is confidence.
This builds resilience.
~a relationship in which a person or thing is linked or associated with something else.
'Connection' is one of our human psychological needs. We have a human need to feel connected to others. It is part of our identity and belonging.
Adversity often connects us with people that are experiencing something similar at the same time, or maybe have experienced something in the past and are now helping others on a similar journey. This can help us to feel that sense of reassurance that we are not in this alone and that we can connect and learn from how others are facing a similar challenge.
Resilience is accepting help, support and guidance. It is not having others 'do it for you', it is having an external resource that helps add to your existing resources.
We can use our experiences to help connect and support others, we can take our lessons learned and connect and share with others to help and support them.
~the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.
Every time we experience adversity we learn a little more about ourselves. We tap into different parts of our character to help us move forward.
If we didn't experience adversity would we have seen this side of our character or known what we are truly capable of?
“A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.”
~ Dorothy Elston and Phyllis Schlafly
In the same way that it is worthwhile reflecting on what we have learned in a practical sense, it is also important to reflect on what we have learned about ourselves.
Technical skills are often easier to pick out and identify. The behavioural/soft skills and elements of our character are just as important.
How can you use these to help you bounce forward even further? If you were to really tap into these characteristics, how might they help you to build and create a future that is important to you? (Read more here in the blog 'The 3 Traits that took me from Survive to Thrive')
~the part played by a person or thing in bringing about a result or helping something to advance.
Contribution is another human psychological need. Contributing to something outside of ourselves is often a positive coping strategy (when in balance).
Feeling like we are doing something worthwhile and fulfilling, as well as being part of something outside of ourselves and our own little world, can help us to feel part of something bigger. We need to feel that we are part of the world, that our being here makes the world a little bit better.
Contribution is intertwined with many of the other 'C's that help us to continue to build our resilience.
~deal effectively with something difficult.
Times of adversity are uncomfortable. It is natural to want to try and get away from this feeling as quickly as possible. This can often mean that we will try to avoid, distract or numb ourselves from this feeling.
There is not an easy fix. We need to learn to sit with that feeling of being uncomfortable. The more we can get comfortable with this feeling the more resilient we become.
When we successfully overcome challenges that happen to us, we can begin to choose the challenges to step into.
Find positive strategies that help you to move forward, both with action, and to process your feelings and emotions. It is important to work your way through both, and accept that you may need support and guidance to do this.
Through adversity, we have an opportunity to learn. Through adversity, we grow and evolve. This can feel uncomfortable, especially as it is unfamiliar, however, it increases our resilience, so that the next time, we enter a new situation with more tools, resources and confidence in our competence to cope.
~ the power to influence or direct people's behaviour or the course of events.
Resilience is controlling what you can control, and not placing effort and energy into trying to control something which is neither within your control nor something you can influence.
Focus your energy on the areas of the situation that are within your control. This may be taking control of how you respond to the situation, rather than trying to control the situation itself.
Taking control is often a series of decisions.
Decide, review, decide, review.
It can be easy to get caught up in the feeling of decisions being permanent. Make the decision that is best for you right now, knowing what you know, right now. If you receive more information, or the decision you have made is not working in the way that you wanted it to, then look to make a new decision.
Choosing to do nothing is also a decision.
Taking ownership and responsibility is what helps us to feel in control, to feel empowered.
We may not be able to control the whole situation, however, there will be elements that we can take ownership of, and that can make a significant difference. It can help us to feel like we are a part of what is happening and living 'in effect' rather than something that is happening to us.
This can also contribute to an increase in resilience as it helps to build that trust in our ability to take control and confidence to overcome the challenge ourselves.
These 7 areas all contribute to how we build our resilience.
How are you building your resilience across these areas?
Resilience is rising from the ashes, it is knowing that you can rise from times of adversity, a more powerful, stronger, version of you.
'Rising like a Phoenix stronger and more powerful'.
If you would like to see how Coaching can help you build your resilience, then why not check our range of services and products or book a call and we can talk things through?