Become more resilient
What is resiliency exactly? It’s the ability to prepare for, recover from, and adapt to stress — life’s disappointments, hardships, trauma and challenges — so you can move through them with greater ease. With resiliency skills, you can create a stronger foundation of emotional well-being, mental health, and physical health that will serve you in any situation.
Resiliency is having great self-awareness — being aware of what you are feeling physically and emotionally and regulating your emotional responses based on the situation. It is also the ability to read and correctly interpret social cues from people around you and not react irrationally or impulsively from an emotionally charged place. Being resilient is also having the ability to problem-solve without wallowing in self-pity, blaming others, or acting defensively by verbally shit-flinging your emotional upsets, hurts and disappointments towards others and blaming them for ‘stinking’.
Did you know that there is another type of resiliency? I hear you say, “YES!”. This resiliency comes from living with or through ‘life disruptors’. Resiliency in these situations is the survival or coping skills — the behaviours — you learnt out of necessity to manage what was going on. Examples of some of these coping skills are; repressing or shutting down your feelings and emotions, tuning out the world around you, throwing yourself into your academia or work, becoming a high-achiever, or acting defensively towards others close to you by sabotaging anything good and healthy — relationships or areas of success for yourself. Feelings of anger, frustration and becoming aggressive towards yourself, others or objects, and a need for control can also be negative coping skills developed to manage your past experiences of having unreliable, inconsistent, critical and even absent caregivers. These behaviours, as dysfunctional as they are, served you well back then, yet the same behaviours no longer healthily support you today. We all have sub-conscious coping mechanisms, even if we’re unaware of them. Do you know what yours are? How do they impact you currently?
First Responders have skill related coping skills that serve them in the field, but sometimes these can creep into their everyday lives. My mother was a nurse in UK’s A&E (Accident and Emergency department — the ER’s here in Canada). She didn’t do emotions well, so I grew up not having many or feeling okay to express my feelings in a supported environment — that’s a topic for another day about my personal development journey.
How do you build resiliency?
Oh boy, this is the million-dollar question! I’ll speak to it from a small perspective on such a vast topic. For me, resiliency, emotional resiliency (EQ – Emotional Intelligence), and having a secure attachment style (a conversation for another day on attachment styles) evolves from having one or more healthy attachments at some point in your life. Primarily this should be a consistent, caring, loving, emotionally aware, empathetic and compassionate caregiver. A family member, teacher or neighbour, who keeps you safe, has your back, knows you, and has the strength to have in place healthy rules, boundaries and structure. Yes, this means a child will hear “no” or not have things made to work for them by their Mr. or Mrs Fix-It parents or caregivers. You build resilience by experiencing the disappointments in life and being ’emotion coached’ through those big and complex emotions by a caring adult. An adult who does not tell you to “suck it up”, or to “stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about”, or punishes you for having some undesirable behaviours (emotional outbursts), for example. – Think toddlers in the middle of a store, lol – yeah, we’ve all seen or experienced that.
Resiliency in parenting:
Concerning parenting specifically, to raise emotionally intelligent and resilient children, you as the parent must first become emotionally intelligent and self-aware – cue personal development coaching etc., that goes hand in hand with parenting. There is a lot of neuroscience-backed information here that I teach people when I work with them to make sense of themselves and their children from the inside out. Parents who have a higher level of self-awareness, or develop it as a result of the work we do together, can deliver a competent and quality level of parenting to their children, setting them up for more significant success.
Resiliency in personal development:
Why is resiliency so important? Self-awareness and resiliency as an adult is needed to be good at processing and overcoming life’s hardships – there will be some – and to bounce back quicker. A positive attitude towards life, being okay with your emotions and not judging them, is a sign that you are developing resiliency. Allow feelings to be what they are ‘E-MOTION’ (a motion = movement, not stuck or rigid, to flow through life’s ups and downs, peaks and troughs, etc.). Be empathetic and compassionate with others whilst having healthy boundaries for yourself. Adults with higher EQ, and resiliency, can tap into their strengths and natural support systems to overcome life’s inevitable challenges that hit from the ‘left field’ and work through those problems. Adults I work with that lack resilience are quicker to become overwhelmed, easily frustrated, vengeful, present with a victim mentality or get stuck on their stories from the past, potentially resorting to past unhealthy coping behaviours – as mentioned earlier.
Resiliency in leadership:
As with personal development and parenting, to be a successful and respected leader of any kind, I find the same applies here, in that you have to have a solid understanding of the self to support and guide your team/clients/others through challenging times etc. When I work with people under the personal development lens, they inevitably tell me how learning about themselves has positively impacted their work, careers, and personal and social relationships.
Building skills to become resilient:
It’s important to note being resilient doesn’t make problems “go away”. Having resilience gives you the ability to handle stress better, bounce back and find enjoyment in life.
Having resilience doesn’t stop you from feeling all the emotions you might experience, such as anger, grief, or disappointment. Having resilience means you can keep functioning calmly, not reacting to the physical or psychological feelings/emotions you or your body may be experiencing. As I am from the UK, culturally (especially back in the ’80s and ’90s), we tend to have an inbuilt stoicism of handling things ourselves, figuring it out, just buckling down and getting on with things… minimising others’ emotions, feeling uncomfortable with them, even judging them as ‘over-reacting’. Instead, being resilient is acknowledging you would benefit from reaching out to others in your local community for assistance, to ask for help or guidance. More resilient people are less likely to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression. They don’t have fear and self-doubt – what I call the “itty-bitty-shitty-committee” that inner voice in our brains – and are less likely to be as impacted by factors that can lead to mental health diagnosis. If you currently struggle with anxiety, depression or both, building resiliency can improve your coping ability/skills.
It might help here to understand a little about the workings of your brain. Firstly, your brain does not tell time – so it does not know the difference between something that happened aeons ago or yesterday. Even the imaginary is real to your brain – it lights up the same neurons whether you experience something in the present, imagine it, or think it is experiencing something from your past, e.g., a stressful, sad or traumatic event. The same parts of the brain light up. Another example is if you are scared of snakes, let’s say, like, can’t even look at pictures of them, just the idea of thinking about the snakes versus actually seeing one in the flesh, the same part of the brain would light up.
So, if you’re less resilient than you’d like, you are not doomed; you can develop and learn some skills to become more resilient. So, how do you do that? How does one start to build resiliency?
Here are some pointers and ideas to start with and build on. The adage of mindset, positivity, outlook on life, and gratitude play a considerable role – remember, the brain gets lit up the same whether it’s real or not.
1. Creating positive and helpful connections with people – friends, family, in group settings with like-minded people, getting a coach and a therapist. You can build these connections through art, pottery, pets, religious or spirituality-based communities, and volunteering. There are many groups in your local area that you can connect with for more support.
2. Being present where you are. You can not change your past or predict the future, so being in the here and now is crucial in developing resiliency.
3. Start with breathing, taking a moment. Breathe in and count to 3, hold for a count of 3, and exhale for a count of 3. Do this a minimum of 3 to 4 times. Breathing like this will slow the mind down and allow you to take a moment of space.
Start your journey towards greater emotional wellbeing with these easy-to-follow steps today. If you would like more information about building resilience for you or your family, please contact me at email@example.com.