The Importance of Resilience
Resilience (or resiliency) is our ability to adapt and bounce back when things don’t go as planned.
According to the research of leading psychologist, Susan Kobasa, there are three elements that are essential to resilience:
Challenge – Resilient people view a difficulty as a challenge, not as a paralyzing event. They look at their failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from, and as opportunities for growth. They don’t view them as a negative reflection on their abilities or self-worth.
Commitment – Resilient people are committed to their lives and their goals, and they have a compelling reason to get out of bed in the morning. Commitment isn’t just restricted to their work – they commit to their relationships, their friendships, the causes they care about, and their religious or spiritual beliefs.
Personal Control – Resilient people spend their time and energy focusing on situations and events that they have control over. Because they put their efforts where they can have the most impact, they feel empowered and confident. Those who spend time worrying about uncontrollable events can often feel lost, helpless, and powerless to take action.
Another leading psychologist, Martin Seligman, says the way that we explain setbacks to ourselves is also important. (He talks in terms of optimism and pessimism rather than resilience, however, the effect is essentially the same.) This “explanatory style” is made up of three main elements:
Permanence – People who are optimistic (and therefore have more resilience) see the effects of bad events as temporary rather than permanent. For instance, they might say “My boss didn’t like the work I did on that project” rather than “My boss never likes my work.”
Pervasiveness – Resilient people don’t let setbacks or bad events affect other unrelated areas of their lives. For instance, they would say “I’m not very good at this” rather than “I’m no good at anything.”
Personalization – People who have resilience don’t blame themselves when bad events occur. Instead, they see other people, or the circumstances, as the cause. For instance, they might say “I didn’t get the support I needed to finish that project successfully,” rather than “I messed that project up because I can’t do my job.”
In our Expert Interview with Dr. Cal Crow, the co-founder and Program Director of the Center for Learning Connections, Dr. Crow identified several further attributes that are common in resilient people:
Resilient people have a positive image of the future. That is, they maintain a positive outlook, and envision brighter days ahead.
Resilient people have solid goals, and a desire to achieve those goals.
Resilient people are empathetic and compassionate, however, they don’t waste time worrying what others think of them. They maintain healthy relationships, but don’t bow to peer pressure.
Resilient people never think of themselves as victims – they focus their time and energy on changing the things that they have control over.
How we view adversity and stress strongly affects how we succeed, and this is one of the most important reasons that having a resilient mindset is so important.
The fact is that we’re going to fail from time to time: it’s an inevitable part of living that we make mistakes and occasionally fall flat on our faces. The only way to avoid this is to live a shuttered and meager existence, never trying anything new or taking a risk. Few of us want a life like that!
Excerpt from an interesting article connected to Principles of Positive Psychology.
The author is an Executive Coach and Social Entrepreneur.
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