Resilience is a muscle you can strengthen with focus and perseverance
We know that individuals handle adversity in many different ways. People use different approaches and strategies based on the influences of the culture, society and families of which they are a part. Despite differences, common skills and attitudes emerge that will help you to build resilience. That characteristic that allows us to continue to function when times are difficult and we find it hard to move forward.
Specifically, we recommend the tactics below to help you strengthen your resilience and your ability to bounce back or bend without breaking:
- Connecting with others. Relationships that provide support and caring are one of the primary factors in resilience. Drawing strength from a number of these relationships, both within and outside of the family, offers love, encouragement and reassurance that can build and support resilience. Example: developing new friendships.
- Flexibility. By definition, flexibility is a key component of resilience and one of the primary factors in emotional adjustment and maturity. Flexibility requires that an individual can stretch in his thinking and his actions. Example: trying something new.
- Making realistic plans and carrying them out. The ability to see what is, rather than what you would like, is a part of this skill. Being proactive rather than reactive, assertive rather than aggressive or passive, are all components of this skill. Example: learning a new language over a course of year not a week
- Communicating well and problem-solving both individually and with others. This ability requires basic communication, listening and problem-solving skills. Example: helping a team member learn a new skill.
- Managing strong feelings. This skill requires the ability to take action without being impulsive, putting emotions to the side to focus on clear thinking and action. Intentionally managing one's emotions is a key component of this skill. Example: thinking before acting, even when angry or hurt.
- Developing self-confidence. Maintaining a positive self-image is critical to enable a person to confront and manage fear and anxiety. Example, eliminating critical self-talk.
- Finding purpose and meaning. Making sense out of a situation and finding meaning in it is critical in order to manage the feelings aroused in a crisis. Many people turn to spiritual and religious practices for support. Example: holding true to your values.
- Seeing the big picture. This ability often is closely aligned with items numbered 5 and 7 above—managing strong feelings and finding meaning. Optimists generally see the bigger picture more clearly than pessimists. Optimists are more likely to see good and bad events occurring in their lives as temporary rather than permanent—“this too will pass.” Further, optimists are more likely to see events impacting certain areas of their lives rather than their entire lives or their futures. Finally, optimists are less likely to blame themselves or someone else for hard times. Example: hold yourself and others accountable without the emotional dose of blame.
- Appreciating and use humor appropriately. Whether humor is "sick" or "dark" often depends on the setting. Laughter may have healing powers; for example, if you're not feeling well, watch a funny movie.
- Taking care of yourself. Do positive things for yourself; for example, eat good, healthy food and find time to exercise.
- Caring for others physically and emotionally. Occupations and volunteer activities that involve caring for others often can build resilience.
“Grit is sticking with your future—day in, day out—not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
--Angela Duckworth, author of GRIT- the power of Passion and Perseverance, Scribner Book Company 2016
Find or Create a Culture of Resilience
The good news is that we all can build and improve upon resilience. When building resilience or grit, surround yourself with people who model that behavior. When you are immersed in a resilient culture, resilience habits rub off on you. For example, it becomes second nature over time to wake up at 4 a.m. for practice if you’re expected to wake up to go work out with the team. And in turn, you reinforce that behavior with them, which raises the bar for the entire group. Resilience then becomes second nature and part of who we are.
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© 2020 Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
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