How do we know if we are resilient? We might like to think that we are strong and capable and possess the attributes needed to bounce back when hit with adversity but we don’t really know until we are faced with it. Life may be cruising along quite nicely then suddenly something hits you, something unexpected, something that you hadn’t planned. A loss of job, a health crisis, loss of a someone you truly loved, a relationship break down, being bullied, a natural disaster, a struggle through infertility, a loss of physical capability, a mental illness…and the list goes on. No one is immune to adversity…it does not discriminate!
So how does one cope and overcome struggle and face unexpected adversity and do so with courage and grace?
Resilience is a complex process and is made up of a mixture of both internal and external factors. It is not a fixed trait reserved to a lucky few.
I would like to share 3 secrets or strategies that I have gained from my research on this topic for developing the capacity to overcome, and even be strengthened by the tough moments in life. These strategies involve certain ways of thinking and acting to help you navigate through these hard times. These three strategies are simple, available and more importantly they are all learnable skills.
- Understand and appreciate that suffering is a part of every human existence. Thinking this way will help you feel less discriminated against when the tough times hit. It will help shift your thinking from a ‘why me’ victim mentality to a mentality of empowerment and taking responsibility.
- Be selective about where you focus your attention. Try focusing your attention on the things that you can change rather than focusing on the things you can’t change. As humans we are hard wired to be drawn to notice the negative in a situation and negative emotions seem to attach to us like moss to a rock where positive emotions seem to run off us like water off a ducks back. Although being wired like this can serve us well in some situations, such as being threatened by a wild animal in the bush…..we need to respond quickly for safety and survival. This type of hard wiring response, however, does not serve us so well in everyday situations. It is not beneficial to go around treating everything as a threat by acting out aggressively or running away from a situation. Resilient people acknowledge the negative but they work out ways to really tune in to the positive of a situation and spend time focusing on this positive. Benefit finding and looking for things to be grateful for are important factors in resilience. A deliberate and ongoing effort to tune in to what is good in your world helps in overcoming sadness, depression and other negative emotions.
- In the aftermath of adversity and you are behaving or thinking in a certain way it is useful to ask yourself this one question…”is what I am doing helping me or harming me? Asking this simple question to yourself can be applied to lots of different contexts….whether you are looking through social media, looking through photo albums of a lost loved one, sending an aggressive text to someone who wronged you….. by asking yourself that one reflective question will help put you back in control of the situation and give you back some power over a situation.
These three strategies are tried and tested and well known in the resilient research world. Knowing them is one thing but putting them into practice is not always easy. Sometimes we need extra support to help us learn these strategies and that’s okay. Remember one step at a time, allow yourself to be active in the grieving process and remember to always be kind to yourself.
By Robyn Roberts
Robyn is a registered primary school teacher with the Teachers Registration Board of Western Australia (TRBWA). Her qualifications are a Bachelor of Social Science – Majoring in Children and Family Studies and minoring in Psychology. She also has a Diploma in Education – Early Education.
Robyn has had 20yrs+ experience working with children in primary schools across both metropolitan and rural areas as well as spending a year living in Canada teaching in Whiterock in a fine arts elementary school.
Robyn’s early teaching career started out in the historical towns of Leonora followed by three years living and teaching in Kalgoorlie. She has many rich and wonderful experiences working in the country and many amazing memories made. In recent years Robyn has worked in many different schools across the Perth metropolitan area and is still actively teaching in schools today in a part-time capacity.
Robyn has worked for Anglicare WA for the past 10yrs in relationship education, separation services, facilitating workshops and seminars that focus on educating family members with tools and strategies to enhance the quality of their relationships. These sessions cover such themes as raising emotional resilience in children, positive discipline techniques, understanding and coping with strong emotions, negative thinking and self-esteem and assertive communication to name a few. She has attended many training courses along the way most recently completing the Resilient Doughnut Model with Lyn Worsley, The Mum’s and Dad’s Forever facilitator training with Anglicare, and the Rhythm to Recovery Training with Simon Faulkner.
She is a wife and mother of two teenage boys and is a valued and active member of the Woodvale Community for over twenty years.
She has a strong passion for personal growth and positive education. She believes that for children and adults to achieve better academically and to have increased wellbeing they need to develop a strong emotional intelligence. She believes in encouraging a growth mindset so that individuals learn that mistakes are an opportunity to grow and develop, improvements can be made with persistence and effort and that challenges can be worked through. Through the acquisition of skills, tools and strategies and expanding knowledge through education, children and adults will be empowered to not only cope better with life challenges but to thrive in today’s world!
She holds a current working with children check.
The logo of Thrive Relationship and Education Services (TRES) has much meaning attached to it.
The roots of the tree represent our family of origin. A place in which our early experiences have a major influence on how we view ourselves, the world around us and how we cope and function in our daily lives today. It is in these roots that we develop our core values that lie just below the surface and can be activated at any time with an event, experience or even a smell can trigger thoughts from the past. It can be beneficial to reflect on these past experiences, not to stay stuck in the past but to keep the positive parts and to make changes away from the parts that don’t serve us well.
The trunk of the tree represents the many strengths that each one of us has. TRES operates from a strength-based model whereby participants self-determination and individual strengths are recognized and built upon in a collaborative way. If each one of us can learn to recognise and use our strengths in creative ways we can begin to flourish. Adversity can hit us at anytime and no one is immune from it, however, our workshops will share research based strategies and knowledge and offer support that can help you weather the storm and recover from adversity to stand tall and strong. At times this may mean changing shape and adapting to new conditions, but through the process their is hope that you will be strengthened by the process and adapt to a new way of being..
The branches and leaves symbolize the human ability to continually grow. A growth mindset and optimistic thinking style are key concepts in the workshops and programs offered and key attributes of resilience that are required to withstand the inevitable adversities of life.
The heart shape of the leaves represent the importance of self-love as well as love for mankind. If we can’t learn to love ourselves how can we love others fully? Appreciation, compassion, acceptance and respect are some of the values our workshops aim to foster.
The colours of the hearts represent ‘the many colours of life’ and the range of emotions we experience. Acceptance of the diversity of others and accepting ourselves is a value of Thrive Relationship and Education Services. I truly believe that to accept others for their differences is to give yourself opportunity to grow and learn from other’s experiences and have a more enriched life.
Recognizing that life is full of ups and downs, our programs aim to equip participants with a range of tools and strategies to not only survive in the face of adversities but to be strengthened and to thrive!!
Blog post by Robyn Roberts July, 2020
Logo designed in conjunction with the talented and creative Rebecca Lyon Augustus – manager of Lava Creative ❤️