Developing Resilience

Resilience is our ability to adapt and bounce back when things don't go quiet as planned. Resilient people don't dwell on their failures; they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and then adapt and move forward.

A great example that shows why resilience is so important is the case of the famous inventor Thomas Edison.

Thomas Edison made no secret of the fact that he made thousands of prototypes of the light bulb before he finally got it right, he once remarked about his endeavours "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

In spite of these many thousands of failures throughout his entire working life, Edison never let it get the best of him. All of these failures, simply showed him how not to invent something. As a result, his resilience gave the world some of the most amazing inventions of the early 20th century. Just imagine how different the world might be if he had given up after his first few failures.

But what about us? Do we have the resilience that we need to overcome our challenges? Or do we let our failures disrupt our dreams? And what could we accomplish if we had the strength not to give up?


What Does Resilience Look Like? - Three C’s and the Three P’s

Dr Susan Kobasa, a leading clinical psychologist, has identified there three elements from her research that are essential to resilience:

• Challenge - Resilient people view a difficulty as a challenge, not as a paralyzing event. They look on their failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from, and as opportunities for growth. They don't view them as a negative reflection on their abilities or self-worth.

• Commitment - Resilient people are committed to their goals, and they have a compelling reason to get out of bed in the morning. Commitment isn't just restricted to their work - they commit to their relationships, their friendships, the causes they care about, and their religious or spiritual beliefs.

• Control - Resilient people spend their time and energy focusing on situations and events that they have control over. Because they put their efforts where they can have the most impact, they feel empowered and confident. Those who spend time worrying about uncontrollable events can often feel lost, helpless, and powerless to take action.

Another leading psychologist, Martin Seligman, says the way that we explain setbacks to ourselves is also important. An individual who has good resilience has an ‘explanatory style’ made up of three main elements:

• Permanence - People who are optimistic (and therefore have more resilience) see the effects of bad events as temporary rather than permanent. For instance, they might say "My boss didn't like the work I did on that project" rather than "My boss never likes my work."

• Pervasiveness - Optimistic, resilient people don't let setbacks or bad events affect other unrelated areas of their lives. For instance, they would say "I'm not very good at this" rather than "I'm no good at anything."

• Personalization - People who have resilience don't blame themselves when bad events occur. Instead, they see other people, or the circumstances, as the cause. For instance, they might say "I didn't get the support I needed to finish that project successfully," rather than "I messed that project up because I can't do my job."

The fact is that we're going to fail from time to time: we all make mistakes, and occasionally fall flat on our faces. The only way to avoid this is to live a shuttered existence, never trying anything new or taking a risk. Few of us want a life like that!

Instead, we should have the courage to pursue our dreams, despite the very real risk that we'll fail in some way or other. Being resilient means that when we do fail, we bounce back, we have the strength to learn the lessons we need to learn, and we can move on to bigger and better things.


Developing Resilience

The good news is that even if you're not a naturally resilient person, you can learn to develop a resilient mindset and attitude. To do so, incorporate the following into your daily life:

• Get enough sleep and exercise, and learn to manage stress. When you take care of your mind and body, you're better able to cope effectively with challenges in your life.

• Practice thought awareness. Resilient people don't let negative thoughts derail their efforts. Instead, they consistently practice positive thinking. Also, "listen" to how you talk to yourself when something goes wrong - if you find yourself making statements to yourself that are permanent, pervasive or personalized, correct these thoughts in your mind.

• Learn from your mistakes and failures. Every mistake has the power to teach you something important; so don't stop searching until you've found the lesson in every situation.

• Choose your response. Remember, we all experience bad days and we all go through our share of crises. But we have a choice in how we respond; we can choose to react negatively or in a panic, or we can choose to remain calm and logical. Your reaction is always up to you.

• Maintain perspective. Resilient people understand that, although a situation or crisis may seem overwhelming in the moment, it may not make that much of an impact over the long-term. Try to avoid blowing events out of proportion.

• If you don't already, learn to set SMART goals - it's incredibly important to set and achieve goals, and to learn from your experiences.

• Build your self confidence. Remember, resilient people are confident that they're going to succeed eventually, despite the setbacks or stresses that they might be facing. This belief in themselves also enables them to take risks to keep moving forward.

• Develop strong relationships. People who have strong connections are more resistant to stress because they have a strong support network to fall back on.

• Focus on being flexible. Resilient people understand that things change, and that carefully-made plans may, occasionally, need to be amended or scrapped.


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