Resilience training is now a key part of workplace wellbeing, but what makes us need to feel more resilient? We all go through difficulties at some time in our lives, and good resilience training can help us not only to cope with whatever happens, but to use them as catalysts for our self development. In Chinese writing there’s a word meaning ‘incipient moment’, the critical time when one must choose the best course of action, what we might call an opportunity. That word is actually made from two other words: one meaning ‘danger’ and the other ‘crisis’ (1). The way we choose to navigate the situation we’re in not only decides how well we cope, but the outcome too, and that’s why resilience matters.
Why We Need More Resilience
Psychologists have debated for years about why we need more resilience nowadays. Your grandparents may have told you how during the blitz, strong leadership helped to build confidence amongst the people. Resilience was expected of everyone, and everyone did their bit to take care of each other. This ‘war spirit’ only appears to really come into its own when we find ourselves in desperate situations, and there are countless stories of those who’ve found both physical and emotional strength they never knew they had when it was needed most. These days by comparison our lives are fairly comfortable. We fetch our food from the supermarket instead of hunting or gathering. We have warm, comfortable houses to live in and clothes to wear. When we’re sick, we have Doctors and medicines to make us feel better. There’s simply not the same need for daily resilience now as there has been at any other time in our evolution.
As well as that, we’re constantly being exposed to messages that we’re not good enough as we are. An average evening in front of the TV can really help to programme your subconscious into believing you’re too fat, too smelly, you voted the wrong way for Brexit, you have the wrong religious beliefs, the wrong coloured skin, the wrong choice of clothing, and so it goes on. Most of us don’t realise how damaging these subliminal messages are, along with all the disturbing images we watch on the news every day, but they really do have an impact upon our mental health (2).
Resilience For Surviving and Thriving
To me, building resilience is more than merely learning some new coping mechanisms. In improving our resilience, we learn an incredible amount about ourselves when we know how to. For example, you may be puzzled as to why even though your dog died six months ago, your grief still feels like it did when it first happened. As well as that, you might feel frustrated at yourself for struggling to cope for all this time, and being unable to move forward. There will be a reason why that’s happening, and very often it can be that it’s triggering the memory of a past bereavement that was never fully processed. Rather than berating yourself for feeling so upset at the loss of your dog, perhaps give yourself some time and space to revisit the original bereavement.
We were all born with the natural happiness and love of life that we see in young babies. As we grow older we take on subliminal patterns from those around us, which are based on their beliefs. Unless we learn to do otherwise, other people’s ‘stuff’ really shapes our own, and we can end up with negative thought patterns which really don’t serve us very well. Thoughts create our emotions, and our emotions act as a compass to guide us in the right direction. In my experience, when someone suffers from depression, there’s usually a misalignment between where they are and where they truly want to be on a deep level. For example, they might be in the wrong job, the wrong part of the world, married to the wrong spouse, and so on. The prospect of facing up to these kinds of truths, and having to do something about them can be extremely daunting, and it’s no wonder that many people choose to stay as they are. But that creates prime conditions for long term mental and physical health problems, as opposed to the short term pain for long term gain that comes with taking action.
Ways of Building Resilience
Self awareness, and self kindness are key to building long term resilience, and this is what I teach on my workshops. By being kind and true to ourselves, it becomes much easier to see the way through difficult situations, and less likely to find ourselves there in the first place. Here are 5 ways to start building resilience.
- Commit to being kind to yourself. This is the number one most important part of building resilience, as you don’t need to
be giving yourself anything extra to cope with when you’re already having a difficult time. If you wouldn’t speak to your loved ones in a critical, negative way, don’t use that kind of language with yourself.
- Look for the lesson. Every relationship we have, and every situation we find ourselves can show us something about ourselves. For example, if you’re constantly being victimised at work, is there a part of you that feels a bit like a victim in some way? By being really honest with yourself, you can start to change your thinking and leave the negativity behind.
- Find some peace and quiet. There’s a well of serenity in each of us, where we feel totally at peace with ourselves and the world around us whatever chaos we appear to be in. The problem is we can’t find it unless we make time and space to do so. All of the major religions have taught about the need for human beings to take some regular. Muslims pray five times a day. Buddhists and Hindus meditate, and in Judaism, the Sabbath is kept as a day for rest, relaxation and quiet reflection. This is why meditation is becoming so popular again now and even if a few minutes a day can make a world of difference.
- Get help and give help. Again, until fairly recently we and our family and friends cared for each other simply because we couldn’t have survived otherwise. If you’re struggling with your life situation, make sure you get some help. Barter for babysitting, get a cleaner, see the chiropractor about your bad back, and do whatever you can to get the support you need. Likewise, do whatever you comfortably can by helping others around you. That takes the focus away from your own difficulties and helps you to feel better that you’ve helped to make someone else’s life easier. The balance between self- care and caring for others should be about 50:50 if you’re going to stay happy and healthy.
- Be grateful. By simply writing down or saying five things you’re grateful when you get up, and five more when you go to bed, your perspective transforms completely. Your brain becomes more used to thinking happier thoughts, and starts to rewire so that happier thoughts become easier to think (3).
Do you need more resilience in your life?
Get in touch now and let me know what you’d like help with.