I have been particularly open to experiences and examples of resilience recently. Partly because I have been writing a course for the college I teach for, aimed at therapists and individuals who work with people with high levels of stress and low levels of resilience. And partly because I regularly see clients in my practice who suffer from stress and lack resilience. Resilience is one of those personal qualities and abilities that we have that helps us respond with coping skills and hope in the face of adversity. When life gets tough and starts to drag us down, becoming overwhelming, its our ability to take stock, look at what we can do and start to move forward in our lives beyond the adversity. Its not always easy but it is a skill that we can develop.
Richard Lazarus, a prominent psychologist in the field of stress and resilience termed resilience as follows “Psychological resilience refers to effective coping and adaptation although faced with loss, hardship, or adversity. Resilience to certain events has been likened to elasticity in metals”. The reference to elasticity suggesting a flexible approach. You may also have heard the term ‘bouncing back’ in relation to resilience, the ability to come back from difficulties. Whilst this resonates with me to a degree it’s important to acknowledge that it often takes effort and time to come back from difficulties. The term bouncing back shouldn’t be interpreted as something that’s easy, rapid or effortless. Staying on the theme of ‘bouncing back’ I found myself watching a film a couple of days ago, a Sky film called Life Itself. In equal parts, it’s a harrowing, heart rending and heart-warming film that drew me in, focusing on the challenges that life throws at us. It is essentially a portrait of several individuals who experience huge tragedies and challenges in their lives, how they respond and cope with those and, in true film style, how all of their lives are connected and come together.
At one point in the film one of the main characters is talking to her son, she is encouraging him to go abroad to university, an amazing opportunity. He wishes to stay and look after her. She says to him: …..you have had many ups and downs in your life, too many, and you’ll have more, this is life, and this is what it does, life brings you to your knees, it brings you lower than you think you can go. But if you stand back up and move forward, if you go just a little further you will always find love………. Now she is talking about love in this context and the fear he has of losing her, but I loved the focus of her message – life is hard, it will bring challenges, but if you can lift your head, look forward, and take that step, even if it’s a small one, you will get there.
So, what do you do if this quality of resilience doesn’t seem to be one of your core abilities, is it something you can develop? The answer to that is yes, like any skill, with training, time and effort you can learn how to be more resilient and how to come back from the difficulties you face in life.
There are several factors that relate to resilience, but the starting point is understanding how you currently react and respond to adversity or stress. What are your existing coping skills and what is the physical impact on your body, what currently works and what doesn’t? Once you understand these you can start to learn ways of managing your reaction and your ability to cope.
Learning relaxation and breathing techniques can have a very positive effect on that initial reaction we often have to stressors and is the starting point from which to build. From there building your skills in areas such as problem-solving, assertiveness, self-awareness, emotional regulation, anger management, confidence building, flexibility of approach, all of these are potential growth and learning areas dependent on your current coping skills. If you feel you lack resilience and would like to build your ability to cope with life better, to feel more resourceful in the face of challenge, then one route would be to work with a therapist or coach. Over the course of an agreed number of sessions you can identify how you currently cope and your existing levels of resilience and then agree a plan for learning the skills and techniques to help build your resilience.
If you would like to learn more about how these sessions would work for you, then book an insight session with me. This is a 20 – 30 minutes session where we can understand where you currently are and where you want to get to and discuss how that can be achieved. This initial session is free of charge and an opportunity for us to meet and decide if we feel comfortable working together. Call me today on 07527 852833 or contact me via the website or messenger to find out more www.mindpower.uk.com
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