This week I had lunch with a lady who, upon immediately meeting her at a recent 'Women in Business' networking event, struck me as the kind of woman I wanted to find out more about. She was engaging, full of sparkle and we really connected. When we met for lunch this week, we shared stories of our lives, the highs, the lows and everything else in between and we got onto the subject of resilience and whether resilience is something we have or we don't, and whether or not resilience can be learned.
According the American Psychological Association, "Resillience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress, such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means "bouncing back" from difficult experiences."
But is the process of bouncing back a biological one or a psychological one? Some scientists believe that resilience is something we are born with i.e it's in our DNA. Researchers at the Genome Centre in London have found that there are links to specific genes and our mental resilience. However, there is also a school of thought which believes that resilience can be learned. Behavioural Psychologists like me, absolutely believe that resilience, given its a process of thoughts, feelings and behaviours can be learned.
People's stories intrigue me. I love listening and learning about the things that have shaped who they are. There is a lot of truth in the quote "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger", however, whilst some people seem to be able to pick themselves up when faced with adversity, for others it can be a real struggle. In my experience, those people who demonstrate resilience, have effective coping mechanisms to deal with adversity. They allow themselves to experience emotional pain and sadness, but they bounce back, because they've developed the skills in which to do so.
Bringing Sparkle Back is all about resilience - mastering the art of 'bouncing back'. From working with clients in the clinic, these are the 3 key ways you can build resilience in your life:
1. Connecting with others
Having a good support network is key. We need support and we need to know that we can reach out in times of need. Whether that's a mentor or a supportive manager at work, a close friend, partner or a family member at home. Talking things through with someone who cares and someone who will listen and help us navigate through the adversity we are facing is a crucial part to helping us process and learn from adverse events.
2. Stop seeing curve balls as challenges you can't overcome
Adverse situations are going to happen. They are, to a great extent, entirely out of our control. However, how we respond to those situations is completely within our control. Our own thoughts drive our feelings and ultimately how we choose to respond. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is a really useful way of understanding how our minds process these adverse situations and a great tool to 'rewire' our minds so that we can respond to future curve balls in a more positive way.
3. Embrace change
Being flexible and adaptable in the face of adversity is so important. Keeping an open mind and seeing problems as possibilities, and obstacles as opportunities, helps you move forward and enables you to pick yourself up and bounce back. Things will change because nothing stays the same and things will go wrong. The key is in how flexible and adaptable you are. The road to success is never straight. It's full of twists and turns and dead ends. The more you can prepare yourself for that journey, the easier it becomes to adapt and change and take alternative routes, with the confidence that the new route might be a more scenic one.
Life doesn't get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient. In life, you will fail, you will experience, you will hurt and you will fall. But you can learn how to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and come back even stronger and sparklier.
Catherine Asta Labbett, is the founder and owner of Yorkshire based 'Bringing Sparkle Back' delivering Psychotherapy, Relationship and Life Coaching exclusively for women.