For many people the twenty-first century world of work is experienced as demanding increasingly greater output from increasingly fewer workers.
Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. It’s the ‘rubber ball’ factor; the ability to bounce back in the event of adversity.
Psychologists understand how certain personality types, thinking styles and past experiences can impact a person’s resilience. Resilience is not a fixed characteristic, it is something that can be learnt and strengthened over time. Developing resilience is a personal journey as people do not all react the same to traumatic and stressful life events.
Research suggests resilience to be a multi-faceted capability and resilient people tend to have the following qualities:
- An Internal Locus of Control. A person with an internal locus of control believes that he or she can influence events and their outcomes. It is essential for well-being. Challenging thinking styles, positive re-appraisal and re-framing techniques which look for new interpretations of events, situations and setting performance-oriented goals rather than outcome-oriented goals, help clients develop and strengthen their internal locus of control.
- Adaptability. Resilient individuals adapt to changing circumstances or life crises, seeing them as opportunities for growth and development rather than catastrophes. Often being aware of inner criticism and being able to quieten it down, being compassionate to the self and learning new skills enables adaptability.
- Realistic Optimism. Resilient people explore ways to find a positive in even the most difficult of situations without denying the situation is unfortunate and go on to think about what could go wrong in a constructive realistic way and how this could be handled if it does happen.
- Emotional Stability. People who are emotionally stable act in a rational manner when faced with challenging situations. They are able to effectively work through daily issues without becoming overly upset, anxious or angry. Increasing awareness of personal triggers and their impact from past experiences, in order to control outcomes, avoiding situations which disturb your emotions and challenging negative cognitive distortions and self-criticism are strategies which support personal emotional stability.
Through increased self and body awareness, behavioural change, cognitive restructuring, realistic optimism, self-compassion (rather than succumbing to your inner critic) and improved emotional stability, therapy can enable people to build and maintain resilience in an ever-changing world.