Building resilience has been topical during my work with a group of managers of an organisation which is undergoing a period of difficult transition and significant changes. Although we cannot control what happens to us we can control how we respond and deal with adverse and challenging situations and events. This difference was demonstrated by 3 of the managers:
- Mary is overwhelmed. The changing and challenging demands of the job are affecting her work and home life. Her colleagues describe her as ‘constantly whinging’, not engaged at work and negative in her attitude. She blames others for the ‘mess that we are in’, that others ‘don’t understand or care’ and has fallen out with her team.
- Sue knows that she cannot influence the decisions made and that they are outside her control. She gets on with doing her job and has the attitude that ‘we have come through worst that this’ and will do so again.
- Helen has adopted a, ‘bring it on’ attitude and is constantly looking for solutions to the problems that are arising. She sees it as a challenge, as learning and is realistically optimistic. Her ‘can do’ attitude is appreciated by her team.
What is resilience?
It is the ability to deal effectively with stressors, pressures and challenges and perform to the best of your abilities irrespective of the circumstances in which you find yourself. Feeling positive, being in control, productive and doing the job in hand whilst facing tough times, hardship, overcoming obstacles and bouncing back are aspects of being resilient and all of which can be developed.
Here are some of the strategies that my clients have successfully used to develop their resilience:
In the short term
- Take time out to grieve your losses and to accept reality. You wouldn’t always get it right, mistakes happen and failing is a natural part of doing business and in generating learning
- Get rid of those unhelpful niggling thoughts such as, ‘I’m a failure’, ‘I can’t do anything right’, ‘why is this happening to me – I’m a bad person’…Question those unhelpful thoughts – are they realistic, true, what evidence supports them, are there other explanations or perspectives?
- Be logical and realistic – step back, see the bigger picture, what can I influence, control, change? What are my options and what actions do I need to take?
In the longer term:
- Be connected – our interactions and relationships with other people form a network that supports us, make our lives meaningful, and ultimately enable us to survive. Engage and connect with those around you: family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, those in your community – school, church, gym, clubs….Invest time in getting to know and building relationships with a wide range of people
- Manage your energies and take care of yourself – eat well, sleep well, be active and exercise as much as possible. It releases those feel good endorphins which are an instant pick me up. Also gives time and space to think and reflect and put things into perspective
- Be mindful and stay curious. Take note of your surroundings, your emotions and feelings. You are part of something much bigger – be aware of it
- Stretch yourself – do something that you have never done before on a regular basis. This could be anything from trying out a new recipe to climbing Everest! Stepping out of the comfort zone may be difficult, uncomfortable and perhaps even painful at times. But it is often from undertaking such acts and developing mental toughness that we grow progress and achieve our greatest accomplishments. It helps to build our inner strength and resourcefulness to enable further positive coping
- Reach out and help others: be generous – whether it’s a smile or volunteering your time …The more we do for others the more rewarding and enriching our lives become and self centred
- Build your positivity – focus and use your strengths, hang out with positive like minded people, act as you want to feel, use positive language…
What are your experiences of managing stressful and adverse events? What strategies did you use? What tips would you add to the above?