WIMBAs everywhere – you are amazingly strong and yet everyone struggles some of the time. We can feel stressed out, burned out, or overwhelmed from time to time. Life’s uncertainties can hit hard. When we face the unexpected, especially when it’s a difficult circumstance, we can find ourselves floundering.
That’s where creating a bulletproof mind comes in handy. So today, I’d like to talk to you about resilience: what is it, how you can cultivate more of it, and I’ll be quoting parts of my book, The 7E Solution to Burnout because resilience is one of the skills you can build to prevent burnout.
So what is resilience?
“Resilience starts in the mind and includes a sense of realistic optimism for what lies ahead, gratitude for the goodness around you, and acceptance of anything that is not in your control or that has not gone as well as you would have liked.”
“Resilience is a self-perpetuating cycle. The more resilient you are, the stronger you become after a negative experience. Your resilience becomes evident when you face challenging situations, not only in the way that you interpret and react to the challenges, but also in your ability to adapt to change.”
“Part of what makes jumping on trampolines so much fun is the fact that when you apply pressure, the springs help you shoot up. Resilience is like a spring. It is your ability to bounce back from adversity.
We are all resilient to a point. Think about all the disappointments, failures, and defeats you have encountered in your life. If you were not resilient, you would not be able to keep going. So when you come across a disappointment or a harsh reality, how do you get past it? What is the process you go through that allows you to bounce back? As it turns out, the keys are in your biology and your mind.”
THE BIOLOGY OF RESILIENCE
“Charles Darwin highlighted a theory to explain why some people thrive while others wither away, which he named the “Survival of the Fittest.” In this evolutionary theory, Darwin described the process of natural selection. When the going gets tough, the tough get going, leaving the not-so-tough in a cloud of smoke. He attributed the differences between these two different types of people to their genes.
Research and history have demonstrated that there is truth to this theory. People with family histories of mental illness are more likely to experience mental illness themselves. People with family histories of medical illnesses like Type 1 diabetes, cancer, or heart disease, are more likely to experience such diseases in their lifetime.
That being said, with the advancement of science and medicine, we have been able to give never-before-seen advantages to the biologically predisposed. Even if your father and his father suffered from lifelong depression, when you struggle with depression, there are more medications and treatments today than ever that can help you overcome this battle. The more we know about the brain and the mind, the more we have come to realize that there is also a lot you can do to help yourself.”
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF RESILIENCE
“Psychologist Carole Dweck made popular the notion of a growth versus a fixed mindset. According to her, when faced with an obstacle, people with a growth mindset can counterbalance negative events by focusing on their positive aspects. If your company suddenly announces major layoffs and you lose your job, if you hold a growth mindset, you will likely stay optimistic and focus on finding a new one. If, however, you have a fixed mindset, you might attribute the loss to a personal attribute and, consequently, feel depressed and unmotivated to pursue another position.
There are multiple layers to your mind. Like an onion, the core of your mind lies in the center and is hardest to change. This core determines the direction of the layers that come after it. That innermost layer is comprised of your schema or core beliefs.
The lens through which you each see the world makes up the core beliefs you hold to be true, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. These beliefs lead you to attribute causality to internal, stable, and global factors, also known as attribution errors.
Like the child who blames herself for her parent’s actions, we as adults might attribute events to three factors that make us less resilient. The first is an internal factor. If you have a fixed mindset, you are likely to attribute the layoff to something deficient in yourself. This often stems from a core belief that you are inadequate. When you believe this, you tend to look for evidence that demonstrates you are right. Therefore, when something happens, like losing your job, you are more likely to blame yourself.
The second factor that reduces our resilience is the stability factor. When you believe that your flaw is permanent, you are less likely to feel optimistic about your ability to bounce back. Not only do you see yourself as inadequate, but you feel hopeless about being able to change that inadequacy.
Finally, the third factor that makes people less resilient in the face of stress is a global one. When you have shortcomings, you can see them as a weakness. If, instead, you think of yourself as the problem, you are taking a local problem (the shortcoming) and making a global issue out of it. When you do this, every failure reinforces your belief that you are a failure. This belief is not only accompanied by feelings of shame, but it makes you less likely to keep trying. This is sometimes why people become stuck.
Do you believe you are not enough? This limiting core belief is part of a fixed mindset that can lead you to misattribute your inadequacies to everything that goes wrong, especially if you believe you cannot overcome your limitations. Instead of feeling guilty when you make a mistake, you feel ashamed of yourself. In this case, work on rewiring your brain to change your limiting belief. Affirm that you are enough often and with consistency until you build the habit and neural pathways in your brain to believe it is true. Doing so will help you put events into perspective and recognize that when something falls short of expectation, it is a specific rather than a global aspect that went awry. Remember the adage, ‘Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.’”
And now that you know what resilience is all about, I’d like to share with you 5 tips to increase your resilience:
Tip #1: Change your perception: Faulty perceptions may cause you to see yourself as having less control than you do, so changing such perceptions can positively impact your resilience, thus also improving your performance.
Tip #2: Be self-compassionate: Are you harder on yourself than you are on others? Perhaps you tell yourself that you should “just get over it” after a challenging experience or that you are “a failure” because the task you worked on did not turn out as well as you had hoped. “Compassion is what builds you up to face challenges and stressors and is what leads to greater resilience.”
Tip #3: Find meaning in your work: Seek out opportunities for meaningful participation, that set and communicate high and realistic expectations, and that provide care and support.
Tip #4: Mitigate the risks by increasing social connectedness, setting clear and consistent boundaries, and learning life skills.When you are facing challenges it is important to be able to have social support. Being connected to other people can help you weather the storm. In addition when you are in social interactions, relationships, and situations, it’s important to have some clear boundaries so that you are taking care of yourself. It’s when those boundaries get blurred that you sometimes can put other people’s needs ahead of your own and that gets in the way of being able to stay resilient when faced with stress. Learning life skills is all about focusing on building up your mind, learning things like emotional intelligence, and how to manage your own reactions and thinking, how to create the results that you want to see in the world. The more you are in control of yourself, the more you’ve developed yourself, the more success you will see in your lifetime.
Tip #5: Change your mindset about failure: Face your challenges, View setbacks as temporary and reframe them to mean an opportunity for growth, Think of yourself as stronger with each adversity, and find meaning in everything.
Those tips can really help you create a bulletproof mind. But if you want more resources, check out my FREE Mindset Mastery Starter Kit. In it, you’ll find articles and videos on topics related to mindset and much more. It’s available on my website at www.drsharongrossman.com
And if you found anything I said valuable, please rate and review this episode and don’t forget to subscribe in your favorite podcast app. I’ll see you next week.