Resilience has emerged as an urgent priority for people and organisations of all kinds, from schools to corporate and government sectors globally. We all know that being alive means having to go through tough times, and increasingly we’re recognising we’re knee deep in one of those times.
Many people are feeling worn out and frazzled, overwhelmed, anxious, fearful, lonely and depressed. You may be reading this and reflecting on your own E-Score! If one (1) meant you were Exhausted, and ten (10) meant you’re feeling fully Energized, how would you rate yourself at this moment in time?
Researchers have been studying resilience for a long time, and through robust, longitudinal studies in the fields of psychology & neuroscience, we know the key drivers of resilience.
In positive psychology, Martin Seligman describes resilience as our ability to cope with whatever life throws at us. Some people are knocked down by challenges, yet they return as a stronger person with the agility to ‘bounce forward’.
So how can we grow our resilience?
In the words of Lucy Hone in her heart wrenching TED talk, resilience requires ordinary processes, and then a willingness to give them a go. It’s not something we’re born with. Much like courage, it’s a learned skill, and in many ways, an emotional intelligence skill.
In her TED talk, Lucy speaks to the greatest bereavement of all, losing a child, and the three things she discovered to help her to live and grieve at the same time.
- Resilient people get that shit happens, and that suffering is part of every human life. We seem to live in an age where social media paints a perfect story, and when something goes wrong, our go to thinking is ‘why me’. Acceptance that life is messy helps us reframe the voice in our head to ‘why not me’?
- Resilient people are careful where they place their attention. As humans we’re wired to detect threats in our environment, to keep us safe! It’s an evolutionary survival mechanism that now wreaks havoc on our brains. Every day we’re bombarded with fear- based messages that stick to our brains like velcro. Resilient people actively practice looking for the good; they practice gratitude. They choose life, focus on what positives they have around them, recognise there is always something to live for.
- Resilient people ask themselves this one question: ‘Is what I’m doing helping or harming me’? This question puts us back in the driver’s seat and helps us have a feeling of control. It doesn’t remove the struggle, but thinking this way helps.
Colleagues of mine, Joni Peddie and Chris and Lara Williams have a keen interest in resilience.
In a recently authored EQ profile they’ve authored with the Six Seconds emotional intelligence network, they chat with Joshua Freedman (CEO of Six Seconds) and share more about this important topic.
In the words of the wonderful Maya Angelou, “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
Dr. Maya Angelou’s childhood was unpredictable with many homes and many moves, and included a period of devastating violence that left her mute for almost five years. Even after she recovered, her life remained tumultuous, both in her personal choices (working as the first black streetcar conductor at age 16) and when the world around her changed when her friends and colleagues Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated. And yet, she was resilient and persisted, and wrote in what is perhaps her most famous poem, “Still I Rise.” These events shaped her, but failed to define or stop her.
As it is within all of us, our own resilience.