Resilience - The Art of Bouncing Back

Resilience - The Art of Bouncing Back

In my family we have recently suffered a bereavement and I have noticed the stark contrasts in how different family members have dealt with the loss. Some have thrown themselves into planning and organisation, some have stuck their heads in the sand and ignored everything that is happening around them, others have seemed stunned and unable to function.  We are all facing the same loss, the same situation yet how we each deal with it has been very different.

Dealing with change or setbacks is part of life. Sometimes these will be small, and sometimes like my family’s loss at the moment, they will be large. We may see them coming, or they may come out of nowhere. The only certainty is that there will always be challenges for us to face in life. We may not always have a choice about what happens, but we do have a choice about how we react.

What makes some people more resilient than others? Have you ever noticed, like I did with my family, how differently two people cope with adversity?  What makes the difference? Some people are born with personalities that make them naturally more resilient. What we experience in life can also build up or break down resilience. The good thing about resilience is that we can foster it, we can learn to think and behave in a more resilient way and increase our ability to cope with problems and setbacks.

So that got me thinking about how powerful and life changing having resilience is, thinking about how we can nurture and build resilience in ourselves and those around us. Here are my thoughts on the seeds of resilience and how to plant them and encourage them to grow.

Be positive – believe in yourself and your abilities. Reframe your thoughts on the things that happen around you, see the positive in everything. So, not getting the place on that course is a chance to do further related training, to volunteer, to travel. And being made redundant is an opportunity to build better relationships with your family, to change direction, to start afresh. Believe that you can and you will. And because our obedient brains look out for more of the things we direct them towards, the more positivity we see in ourselves and in what we experience the more and more good things we will notice and our positivity will grow and grow.

Be curious – Work your problem solving muscles. Think about how many things you could do with a paper clip for example? Holding paper, as hook, lots together to make a necklace – the possibilities are endless, yet we rarely see a paperclip in that way. How often is that true in our decisions in life too? How many options pass us by unnoticed? So how about thinking up alternatives to any challenge you face? Experimenting with different strategies. By practicing doing this you learn to think flexibly, to see the choices and therefore increase your options and your resilience.

Be flexible – By learning how to be more adaptable and embracing change in the little things each day, you will be better equipped to respond when faced with a larger challenge. See that there are choices and opportunities to branch out in new directions. There are always choices – seek and you will find!

Be forward looking – Look to the future, decide what you want and aim towards it. Learn from the past, but do not dwell on past choices and any regrets you may have about them. No-one has a time machine, so we can’t go back and choose a different path. Spend your energy instead in making the future different. Set future goals and break these down into manageable steps. Start working on the steps immediately. There may not be a quick solution, but there are always steps that make things better. As you take the steps, focus on your progress, learn as you go, see your success and keep moving forwards.

Thinking about this has got me thinking more deeply on how I can build more resilience for myself and my children. Thinking about tools and techniques I can use with my clients and perhaps even a resilience building workshop. Who knows where my thoughts will take me, after all I am working on being positive, curious, flexible, and forward looking! I am sure you will have your own thoughts on what resilience is built on. They may be very different to mine.

Here are a couple of really great TED talks on resilience to provoke some more thoughts …
How to Fall Up – Dr Gregg Steinberg
See video
Cultivating Resilience – Greg Eels
See video
Fiona x