“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela
Back in the 90s, Chumbawamba sang, “I get knocked down, but I get up again…” and those lyrics pretty much sum up resilience and resonate more now than ever in these unprecedented times. Resilience can be defined as “the ability to recover quickly from difficulties,” and though it often appears to be a magical quality or trait that only some people have, it is, in fact, something everyone has to a certain extent.
A person with high resilience is going to be able to bounce back quicker than someone with a lower level of resilience, but resilience is also a mental skill – and skills that can to some extent be developed.
Adversity is often for many people a fact of life, but rather than letting difficulties keep them down, people with high resilience find a way to get back up. Psychology research has identified the key factors that make someone resilient, and they include optimism, a positive attitude, the ability to see failure as simply feedback, and the ability to regulate emotions.
However, it’s important to recognise that resilience doesn’t make someone immune to setbacks, and being resilient is not a matter of going through life with your head in the clouds. Developing resilience is a process of learning to recognise and then manage thought processes and consequent behaviours, and thereby begin switching negative thinking for much more productive positive thoughts and actions.
Resilience as a mental skill is one that can be developed and improved by anyone at any age or stage in life. It’s not an overnight process and it takes effort and focus, but it’s a process that begins with a willingness to make changes for the better.
Key areas of focus include:
- Developing confidence in yourself and your abilities, and building a positive self-image.
- Building confidence by setting realistic goals in life and using small successes to keep moving towards bigger successes.
- Improving communication skills, not only in terms of forging positive relationships with others but also in terms of the way you speak to yourself to ensure a positive internal dialogue.
- Learning to recognise your emotional responses to difficulties and the way that negative emotions influence the actions you take.
The bottom line is that resilience is learned and developed through accepting and dealing with difficulties. It’s about adapting and overcoming rather than expecting everything in life to go to plan.
Stuff happens, and even those with high resilience get knocked down – but they have the attitudes and skills they need to get back up again.
Don MacNaughton is a High performance coach having worked with thousands of people over the last two decades to achieve their goals and dreams.
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Ps and we all need others to help develop resilience and we can help others notice and develop their resilience