Are you more resilient than you know?

Photo credit - sasint via

Photo credit – sasint via

Resilience is a term that is used a lot nowadays. Usually it is used to express the ability to recover from difficulties. Lots of people talk about becoming resilient and run courses in developing it. Being resilient has always been important. Perhaps there is an increased demand for it now. But, do we realise how resilient we are already?

Acoording to research, resilient people possess three characteristics: a staunch acceptance of reality; a deep belief and strongly held values that life is meaningful; and an uncanny ability to improvise (Ovans, 2015). This post suggests you reflect on your own resilience – your acceptance of the ways things are, making meaning out of hardships and adapting to find a way to deal with challenges.

Are you more flexible that you realise?
In everyday life, you deal with different people, in different settings and with different personality styles. Adapting and adjusting your behaviour to work with, communicate with and get along with such diversity is par for the course.

The adaptations may be subtle, but can be critical. Think about the differences in the way you relate to a colleague as opposed to your boss, your best friend as opposed to a very senior (age) or very junior family member. We make these adaptations often without consciously thinking about them. So too can we adapt to deal with unfamiliar situations or challenges that may present. They may require more conscious thought – but you already have the skills to adjust. You need to just decide what needs adjusting.

There was that law of life, so cruel and so just, that one must grow or else pay more for remaining the same.
~ Norman Mailer

Are you braver than you think?
Think of all the things that you have done in your life that took real guts. Perhaps you travelled the world on your own? Maybe you went to live and work somewhere you knew no one? Did you go into business on your own? Have you given up a successful career to pursue your passion? Perhaps getting married or starting a family took real guts? Whatever your circumstances, the things you have done that required bravery and courage on your part, are yours. No one can take them away from you. So when something else comes along to challenge you and you feel out of your comfort zone, draw on those past qualities that revealed themselves in experiences that served you well then, as now.

We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.
~ Helen Keller

Are you getting situations out of proportion?
One of the difficult things about challenging situations is fear itself. Letting fear take hold, or letting it grow out of proportion often creates more anxiety than the event itself. A certain amount of fear or anxiety is important. It is like a healthy amount of stress – it energises us to act. The main thing is keeping it in perspective. The worst thing probably won’t happen, and with preparation and forethought about how to handle things, most tough situations can be managed one action at a time.

If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
~ Dale Carnegie

Do you know how many resources you have available?
When you are faced with challenging situations you may feel vulnerable and alone. But wait – there are resources you can draw on. Apart from your previous experience and the personal resources you have from them, there are other resources to use. Mentors, colleagues, friends and your social network are all important sources of support and advice. Sometimes you may just need an ear to hear you verbalise your concerns and paraphrase back to you, what they are hearing.

Start where you are.
Use what you have.
Do what you can.
~ Arthur Ashe

So – would you say you are more resilient than you thought? If you are not sure, perhaps you need to test this on a trusted friend. The purpose of this is not to rate yourself on a resilience scale, but to remind you that there are many resources within that you can draw on. It is a reminder to recognise these in yourself.

Molinsky, Andy. 2017. You’re More Resilient Than YOu Give Yourself Credit For Harvard Business Review. 25 Janaury 2017

Ovans, Andrea. 2015. What Resilience Means and Why It Matters. Harvard Business Review. 5 January 2015


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