This is the last in the series about four primary tools and methods for creating greater mental and overall flexibility to deal with discontinuities, challenges, opportunities and change. The first four explored the key building blocks to higher effectiveness by looking at Core Orientation, Generating Perspectives and Confidence. This blog looks at the fourth building block, namely Resiliency of Being.
Resiliency is the capacity to spring back from set backs, stresses and discontinuities. Your degree of resiliency is determined by the foundations of being that you have created in your life, which is composed of many factors such as your Core Orientation (knowing who you are and why you are here), the ability to shift and see multiple perspectives and your level of confidence. However, there are other factors that help to determine your ability to spring back and to be able to function even under extreme conditions and stresses.
Resiliency is built up and strengthened by a number of key factors beyond the big three explored in earlier blogs in this series. One of the top factors in being more resilient has to do with how you take care of your physical being such as the quality of your diet, toning through intelligent exercise, getting enough sleep and generally treating your body with respect and care. If you don’t eat well or don’t get some form of exercise weekly or don’t sleep enough you will not be as resilient nor robust and then setbacks, sudden changes or crises take you out and put your health and state of mind at further risk.
Beyond the physical aspects of robust resiliency, there are further factors: Cognitions such as self-talk and other patterns of thinking, Emotional Vibrancy, Relationship Quality/Support Systems and Spiritual Disciplines.
Cognitions, how we think and use our mind including how we “talk” to ourselves can tune up and tone up our level of resiliency or damage and limit it. For example, do you offer yourself positive encouragement when things don’t go well? Do you think positively of yourself or do you tend to run yourself down? How you think about yourself and what you say to yourself in the privacy of your own thoughts helps to determine the quality of your life experiences as well as how resilient you are. In addition, if you go around thinking poorly of others or ruminating on past grievances and give in to thoughts of self-pity or to negative thoughts about others, you are also going to be less resilient. A positive focus and positive way of thinking about yourself and others, and the capacity to shift your thinking into more helpful and useful channels, are essential to being both more effective in the short term and more resilient and robust in the long term.
Emotional vibrancy refers to the quality of the emotional life you cultivate and create for yourself. Do you focus on what you do have that is a blessing in your life, and celebrate or give thanks for what is, or do you indulge in resentment, frustration, anger, deprivation and feeling sorry for yourself? The first will give you greater happiness in life and make you more resilient and effective while the latter will sap you of energy and make bouncing back from set backs much, much harder.
Your relationship quality or the support systems you have developed provide a net to catch you when you fall and also provide an elasticity to help you “spring” back from setbacks and losses. Have you cultivated and invested in some key friendships, in your family life, or have you let them slip? Some of the most resilient people have the most robust and satisfying sets of relationships because of their positive approach to others and their investment in the quality of time in connecting, building and maintaining them.
The last key driver of resiliency is the Spiritual Discipline you have developed. This refers to how you connect the larger “meaning” of life, both in terms of what you feel you are giving back as well as by investing the time to connect with the larger context of being alive. If you have developed your core orientation by having developed a clear, one sentence statement of Life Purpose, then you are well on the way to a healthy spiritual discipline. How do you let yourself connect to the larger context of life? Do you meditate? Do you pray? Do you take the time to reflect in a consistent way on the vast mystery and magic of the amazing, pulsating Universe around you? Are you part of a community that uses exercises or common meetings to connect with the larger Spirit of Life or through good works that give back to others? Doing any and all of the above powerfully increases your personal resiliency and thus your overall mental and emotional flexibility.
So, there you have it – the secrets to mastering change that I have discovered over the past 40 years of working with individuals, families, communities, teams and organizations. You become far more change enabled and mentally flexible by focusing on and building your: Core Orientation, Perspective, Confidence and Resiliency. Are you ready to be far, far more effective, engaged and at ease in your work and living?