Resilience to thrive
Updated: May 6
So what does resilience mean and how can we be resilient in order to thrive in our personal and working life? ‘Resili’ comes from the latin to ‘spring back’. It is easy to say the words 'spring or bounce back', or 'stay positive'. In reality, when any challenge is faced, we have to learn to adapt and we never really go back to how we were, sometimes we come back even stronger or just different.
It is a process and as with any process we need to put in the effort and work it! The International Resilience Project define resilience as 'what you have in terms of social supports, what you are, as in inner strengths, and what you can do and develop'. I find this definition really helpful. The good news is that we can increase our emotional and mental reserves to face short term and long term challenges to avoid tipping into stress by strengthening our resilience.
Some pressures and demands are healthy and helpful, it is about getting a balance so we are performing to our optimum rather than overstretching ourselves and tipping into stress and overwhelm. In order to be resilient we can think about having everything in balance and enough resources to meet the challenges that life throws us. If we have our performance and wellbeing in equilibrium, even when life gets tough, we have the resilience to deal.
What would have to change right now in your life to achieve a balance for optimum performance and wellbeing for you?
Resilience does not just stop with the individual, if we try to take everything on ourselves without support we can feel overwhelmed and as a result lack clarity of focus and direction. It is true that we are all responsible for our own wellbeing, but it is rare that resilience is just about the individual as we function well in conjunction with others and might be in need of team support.
Think back to a time when you were facing a challenge, did having others on board to support you help or hinder?
I have been delivering training and coaching using my Gears of Resilience Model drawing on a background of 20 years coaching in this field, applying coaching psychology approaches to help others effect change in their lives. My model provides a tool to help companies, teams and individuals devise strategies for resilience to survive and thrive in daily life.
Here are my tips and strategies to increase and sustain resilience taken from that model, which I hope you will find helpful.
1. Face up to challenges
When challenges come our way it can feel that we wish to put our heads in the sand. As humans we have a natural tendency to want pleasure and avoid pain. However if we look at challenges as 'unused opportunities' rather than problems, as mentioned in Egan's Skilled Helper Model then we can start to look at constructive approaches to problem solving to make the best out of any situation. If we face up to challenges then we gain more in the longer term even though it might involve short term pain.
2. Recognising our strengths and limits
If we are self aware and recognise our strengths and are realistic about our limits then we are able to respond more effectively to situations. If we think of ourselves as a whole bunch of traits, skills, abilities, experiences, beliefs, thoughts, attributes and behaviours which can involve strengths and also limitations then we have insight into how we can deal with situations that present themselves. It also means we are more likely to put boundaries in place and also ask for help when we need to and exercise self compassion.
3. Knowing our values
At even the most tricky times understanding our values can help us to re-focus when we are feeling overwhelmed. Knowing what our values are and having an appreciation of why something is important to us provides a 'grounding' base for who we are. It also motivates us to reach our goals. If we align our goals with our values then we are more likely to get things done even in the toughest of times. There are many examples of how people achieve the most heroic of tasks in very difficult circumstances, such as working as surgeons in war torn countries, and when asked how they managed to do so they will have a strong value base to keep them going.
4. Getting into a resilient mindset
Our minds can be tricky things -they can literally play tricks on us! If we are able to recognise when our mindset is one of self limiting beliefs or negative thought patterns then we can change our perspective to a more effective, rational one. If we can use thinking skills even when under pressure then we can respond more effectively.
5. Using our resources
We have already mentioned the importance of drawing on our resources to face challenges. It's a bit like DIY. When you first try and put up a shelf you don't have the right tools, you may not have a spirit level, for example, or the wrong size rawl plugs. The next time you try you then become more resourceful in learning how to do it and find the correct tools!. So we can be resourceful by using the skills of flexibility and being inventive to deal with whatever comes our way. The ability to use the resources around us is very important for resilience. You may even surprise yourself as you uncover resources you didn't think you had! Now where did I put those rawl plugs?
6. Manage those emotions
If we are able to name our emotion, be aware of it and what we are feeling then this is the first step to being able to emotionally manage. When we develop our emotional intelligence we have an increased ability to think and react optimally when under pressure. Resilience links to us being able to harness anger, frustration, sadness, irritability, fear and a range of other emotions. We are not saying that these emotions are not there, but finding effective ways to own and then manage them makes us stronger and builds resilience.
7. Looking after our own wellbeing
Self care can feel a bit like self interest or even selfishness. However if you think about the health and safety instructions on planes, who has to put their oxygen mask on first? It is yourself right? even if you have a child. This is so difficult. We have learnt to look after others and as a parent it is even more difficult to put your needs before that of your child. The reason why airlines have the safety measure for you to put your mask on first, before that of your child, is because without the necessary oxygen you may not be able to secure your child's mask and you won't be of any use!
This is the same with our wellbeing, if we look after ourselves we can increase mental, emotional and physical reserves and be the best for ourselves and others. This may include recognising when you have reached your limit in tiredness or mental wealth and you need to be assertive, or do something different like take a break. It's important to look after you so you have reserves to draw upon.
8. Positive relationships
I can't emphasise the importance of positive relationships, being able to build rapport with others and to have a solid social support network as my final resilience model tip. If we constantly build on our relationships and have effective interpersonal skills, which also involves delegating or asking for help when needed, then we can face up to much more and have a secure resilient base than if we are alone.
I hope that these strategies help you to think about how you can develop your resilience to thrive whether in a team, on a personal individual basis or for someone close to you. We often face some of the hardest challenges in life and our ability to overcome and manage can not be underated. We all have our own super powers! I am always really interested in hearing from those who read my articles with their thoughts and also offer coaching or training in this area so please get in touch.
About my coaching
I have a practice a few miles from Bristol City centre in Flax Bourton, next to Long Ashton and a quiet tranquil room which provides a place for reflective space for the coaching work. I also can come to your place of work to deliver training. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07811 740580 to book your free 30 mins initial consultation!
Resilience is essential to optimum performance, wellbeing and growth and helping others to have satisfying lives and to live well underlies my work.