Every day I hear about suffering. It’s in the news and on the lips of my clients. I often wonder how DO people carry on?
And yet they do – and some of them come back stronger than ever. They do so because they are resilient.
Resilience is that ability to withstand stress and catastrophe.
It’s when individuals and communities have the capability and strength to rebuild their lives even after devastating tragedies.
Take Malala Yousafzi. At 15 she is shot in the head by the Taliban, for going to school. A year later she rises from her hospital bed, her resolve more powerful than before. She chose not to become a victim, but a vocal advocate for all girls denied an education. The good news is that resilience isn’t something you are born with. We can make choices and do things that enable us to be resilient when the time comes.
Eight ways to build up your resilience right now:
1. Nurture an optimistic attitude
An easy way to do this is to watch your mouth; talk about good stuff you’ve seen and done. Make it a point to do this at least once a day.
2. Take a positive view of yourself
Have confidence in your strengths and abilities; on a regular basis make sure you take the time to remember, record and celebrate what you do well and what you are good at.
3. Manage strong feelings and impulses
If you can do this in “normal” times, you will be more able to do it in “tougher” times. So, step away when you know you’re going to react badly. Practice taking that step back and move towards greater self control.
4. Find help and resources when you need it
Resilient people know they can’t do it alone. They are resourceful, finding help from friends, family and colleagues and using their own innate (and known) strengths and skills.
5. Don’t isolate yourself
All research and reports on the secrets to longevity show that people who have a “community” around them are likely to live longer. It’s similar to resilience. Build up close relationships with others; we are stronger together than alone.
6. Cope with stress in healthy ways
Avoid harmful drinking and substance abuse as coping mechanisms. Stress is a part of life; learning how to deal with it in healthy ways, such as walking, meditating, swimming, gardening, talking to trusted, positive friends. Practice this in your daily life so when the really difficult times come, you have coping mechanisms in place already.
7. Help others and find positive meaning in your life
We all need to feel needed. Give your life meaning by helping others – however small. Wash the coffee mugs at the end of the day, take time to listen and mentor new staff members; check in on your colleagues. But…..practise doing these things unconditionally – gestures like these are not about earning ‘brownie points’! Start with one thing you can do, regularly.
8. See yourself as resilient
Believe in yourself. Portray yourself as someone who bounces back from adversity; you are not a victim. You are someone who will recover from whatever is thrown at you.
“They thought a bullet would silence us, but they failed. Nothing changed in my life except this: Weaknesses, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”
Malala in her first public speech after the attack at the United Nations 2014.
I help leaders and managers build their own personal resilience and the resilience of their organisations. Contact me for a conversation to find out more.