Nelson Mandela once said, “Do not judge me by my success – judge me by how many times I fell and got back up again”.
For some of us, the art of resilience is about building strength to bear the strain, for others it's about growing new shoots to start again, and for many of us it’s just looking for someone or something to lean against until you can stand on your own again.
And that’s the point – achieving and maintaining resilience means having a choice, being able to decide how to think and which tool will work for which situation.
So, when we consider emotional resilience specifically, building that strength comes from being able to consciously review and instigate how you respond to stress, pressure, environmental impactors and the rest of life’s curveballs.
Most often, stress and overwhelm occurs because of the enormous pressure we place on ourselves to succeed and achieve either for ourselves or others – and of course, this has been even more evident over the last year.
Another telling quote is from Hillary Clinton, who says “Always take criticism seriously but never personally” – negative self-talk can break into our stash of response choices when we’re deciding how to handle difficult situations. In fact, sometimes that negative self-talk can make us feel like we don’t have any choices at all.
So, what often happens is we hear “I’ve failed”, “I can’t cope” “I’m not capable of dealing with this” etc, particularly when you can see others around you in your business network, family or friends seemingly coping very well with similar pressures. This feeling is called ‘Despair and Compare’ and if we aren’t able to break out of these thoughts our emotional resilience will eventually fracture and collapse.
We were lucky enough to support the BIPC Northamptonshire Reset. Restart programme to develop entrepreneurs, Start-Ups and VSMEs in their business journey. We delivered a bite-sized workshops on how do we strengthen emotional resilience and find the responses that mean we can CHOOSE how to respond rather than be driven to despair?
We shared various tools, tips and techniques – take a look and have a go:
Look through your resilience hero’s eyes:
Who do you know that you admire? Who is the colleague or friend that always manages to cope with the stresses and pressures of business and life?
Try thinking like they think, mirror their behaviour, and imagine what they would do in the same circumstances – or even what they would advise you to do. Don’t forget that this person might be YOU in a different time or during different circumstances…
Try to identify what you perceive to be your ‘gap’ and review who amongst your colleagues, friends or family demonstrates the way YOU would like to respond. What do they do – how do they do it – what do they say – what’s their strategy?
Once you’ve reviewed all this, try their responses on for size - act as if you are them and see how it effects the way you think of the stress, problem, or pressure.
The way you think effects the way you feel so you’re likely to uncover a different way of responding – so the next time you feel stress or overwhelm, you’ve got a CHOICE of how to respond…and the more you do it, the easier it becomes – AND - you may realise that you are more like them than you think.
So- don’t Despair & Compare – MODEL & ASPIRE instead
Strengthening Emotional Resilience means focusing on creating positive, resourceful emotional states as a matter of course, and practising the skill of lessening negative self-talk.
We all know instinctively that what we think about effects how we feel, however the link between how we feel and how we behave is not so obvious. We often believe we’re great at behaving ‘professionally’, managing our feelings and not showing overwhelm or stress – however even if we’re old hands at this, it’s just not sustainable.
When pressure or stress strikes, words like worry, anger, frustration, helpless, stuck, can describe how we feel – and that forces behaviour like short temper, lashing out at others, closed minds and non-listening (to others, although we always hear our i