There is so much going on in the world right now that it’s proving hard to know what the right thing is to say or do. The impact of recent weeks, and even recent days, will affect us all in different ways, which is probably why so many well-being websites are focusing on the importance of being resilient. But what does it actually mean?
In the west (and certainly in the U.K.), we tend to think of resilience as “grit”; stoicism and an ability to “keep calm and carry on”. On the surface that might seem ok, but essentially it means over here we measure resilience in terms of impairment (what we “fail” at or can no longer do) and productivity (how much output we generate).
This model keeps us focused on ‘doing’ and fixing our flaws, so that we never quite feel good enough. When we feel like we’re not measuring up, it guilts us into doing more, even when we need a break. It’s exhausting.
This article explains that Resilience Theory is vast and wide, and most people think of it as “bouncing back”. Dr Sara Lewis, an anthropologist who spent many years studying culture in Tibet, said recently that we need to think about where we are bouncing from, and back to, especially in the wake of the pandemic.
If the very thing that caused us to suffer with depression, stress or anxiety still remains (eg workload or toxic relationships) then that may not be the “normal” we want back. Lewis went on to explain that Eastern philosophy takes a different stance which may be a healthier one.
We can instead measure resilience by our ability to “flex” in difficult times, and how much room we have for ourselves and others.
Here’s something you could try:
This week, set the intention to Cultivate Your Resilience. Start to measure it by considering how much “head space” you have, asking yourself questions like, “Today do I feel able to”:
• listen helpfully to people?
• say no, and kindly?
• take input or feedback meaningfully from others?
and asking “what percentage of my energy can I realistically give people today?
There doesn’t need to be judgement in your answers to these, it doesn’t make you ‘bad’ if you said no. This is just a way to take a measurement of how much you can give, to help you make good decisions. If for example you’re only working at 60% capacity today, then it may not be the day to have difficult conversations with people if they can be postponed until tomorrow.
The focus then is to work out how much agency you feel you have (your ability to influence events around you) and what you might need to recover or maintain your resilience. This may include acts of self-care, mindfulness or a meaningful conversation with someone else. When you subscribe to my newsletter you receive a free eGuide Cultivating a Resilient Mindset which offers top tips and insights which might help.
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Copyright Delphi Ellis 2020