Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. In a recent episode of our podcast, Squeeze, we focused on Lucy Hone; an expert in resilience. Her Ted Talk on this topic is well worth a watch. Speaking from tragic personal experience and academic expertise, Lucy lays out three keys to being a resilient person.
Resilient people understand that bad things happen
Understanding this simple idea is critical in removing from ones self the sense of victimhood. Reframing the question, ‘why me?’ to ‘why not me?’ leads to a rapid perspective shift. We live in an age where we think that we are entitled to a perfect, picturesque, instagram lifestyle. But the objective truth is different. We are not entitled to any of these things, there are no guarantees, bad things do happen to good people.
Resilient people are really good at choosing where they apply their attention
This means realistically appraising situations, and focusing on the things that they can change, and accepting the things that they can’t. This, says Lucy, is a vital and learnable skill. The idea rolls off the tongue with ease, but the biological reality that human beings are hard wired to be highly receptive to negative emotions (threats and dangers) makes it very difficult. Studies have shown how our biological hardware is lagging behind cultural and societal development. What we are left with is an over active stress response which, rather than helping us run away from a tiger, leaves us emotionally drained after seeing something triggering on twitter.
Resilient people do not diminish the negative, but they have worked out a way of tuning into the good
In psychology, this is called benefit finding. One study asked participants to think of three good things that had happened to them each day. 6 months into the study, the group were showing higher levels of gratitude, happiness and less depression than the control group. Making a deliberate effort to tune into what is good in your world is demonstrably powerful.
Lastly, resilient people ask themselves, ‘is what i’m doing helping or harming me?’. The answer in any given scenario will probably be blindingly obvious, you only need the courage to ask the question. And when you ask the question, you are putting yourself back in the drivers seat and regaining some control over your circumstances.
Three simple, readily available strategies to help build resilience, if only we are willing to give them a try.