Resilience is the ability to recover from difficulties. How you can bounce back when faced with adversity in way that is better than to be expected. Stress can be beneficial, with adrenaline allowing you to work through a situation to the best of your abilities, but resilience is needed when we face existential challenges. This practical workshop allowed attendees to learn, share their thoughts and ask questions around how to become more resilient.
To begin, Caroline explained that resilience can fall into four categories: physical, mental, emotional and societal. When our attendees were asked in which areas they would like to improve their resilience, challenges that were raised included becoming more resilient in the workplace, resilience in the face of failure, emotional and societal resilience in conflict situations, health related resilience, and resilience when external influences impact moods. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant we are all facing new challenges and many mentioned that improving resilience to cope with some of these developments would also be beneficial.
Caroline went on to explain how we can all create learning strategies to become more resilient. People react to adversity in different ways and these responses could be split into five groups: rubber ball, glass, boomerang, sieve, or a sponge. If you are a rubber ball then like this object you can absorb the energy from a challenging situation, bounce and by doing this and let go of the energy. If you are a glass, then you shatter and break when faced with adversity. People who are boomerangs take the stress and anxiety and pass it on to somebody else. If you are a sieve then the adversity does not phase you, it just goes right through you. Finally sponges absorb the problems and bottle them up until saturated. These categories allowed all attendees to think about how we deal with different problems and how we could adapt our behaviours to become more robust.
To build resilience Caroline explained that when faced with a challenge you should consider “what is the worst thing that can happen?” followed by “what is the best thing that can happen?” and then “what is the most likely thing to happen?”. She also highlighted the importance of thinking things through to assess why you are behaving in the way you are in a given situation. We were also provided with some practical tips to adopt when dealing with an issue that might require resilience. Firstly, to try to stay in the real world rather than going to the ‘disaster place’ in our heads. Then, try to understand what is causing the reaction we are displaying. We also should prepare a plan B, remain optimistic and importantly be kind to ourselves.
After this thought-provoking introduction, the attendees split into groups to share their thoughts further. When feeding back to the main group in the session summary, an interesting question that arose was how vulnerable we could actually be in meetings to ensure that we share the load, but not to an extent that it would impact our careers negatively. Groups also asked about the impact of social media and how it contributed to the issue of resilience by adding additional pressure on people’s lives.
As an attendee, I felt really inspired to try to change my behaviours and think about situations slightly differently. I can safely say I am well on the way towards becoming rubber ball I want to be.