Since the credit crunch and the crisis in the economy, we have been banging on about resilience as being critical for healthy survival during the long climb out of the downturn. Resilience also plays a huge part in success, life satisfaction and health. As a result it can be worth cultivating. But are the resilient just born that way or are there lessons for lesser mortals? There is always a genetic component to everything but scientists, while able to detect the genome markers better, seem to be saying that environment can work to change a great deal of what we sometimes consider to be ‘given’. Even if you inherit half of your traits, that leaves a lot up for grabs. It isn’t that resilient people lack the imagination or sensitivity to know how bad things are. They do recognise when the sky is falling in but they have developed different coping strategies. Running around like an out of control headless chicken, crying ‘we are doomed’ doesn’t tend to be one of them. If you are very resilient, people do sometimes mistake you for someone who just doesn’t get it. So they try to convince you of the enormous challenges on all sides. You are neither blind nor deluded. You just know you will succeed better by using a different approach to those used by the permanently chronically stressed. The most recent poster boy for this has to be Andy Murray whose recent success at Wimbledon is due in no small part to his learning a resilient psychological style to enable him to come back consistently from any mistakes. Sure he has increased his physical fitness and works constantly on his technique but the recent changes to his psychological stamina have been startlingly evident. Resilience can be taught and learned. In the meantime here’s what resilient people do well that you can copy:
- Develop confidence in your strengths. Whatever life throws at you, you know you can use these strengths to find your way through.
- Have a vision for where you are going so that you know you will need to get round or over this obstacle rather than stop in front of it.
- Make sure you have chosen this vision for yourself, because you really want to get there. Second hand, cast off visions rarely work.
- If one route gets blocked, be prepared to adapt and try ten other paths if necessary. This only works if you know where you are trying to get to and are really committed to getting there.
- Be prepared to learn from adversity – which you will inevitably encounter. Let it make you stronger. Resilient people never say, ‘why me?’
- Build a support team. Relationships are critical to good resilience. Investment in other people immunises you against stress.
- Having hope is critical- this is not the same as wishing things would turn out well. It means optimism and good plan.
- Use cognitive behavioural approaches to banish negative beliefs and instil constructive thought processes.