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June 27, 2017

Resilience: Being Ready for Anything – #MTtalk

Yolande Conradie

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"A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well." – Anonymous

About This Week's Chat 

What "Resilience" Represents

I've often thought about the word "resilience" during the past few days. What exactly is it? What does it mean to different people? Where do you get it?

I don't have all the answers, but I can share some of my experiences with you.

A number of years ago, I lived on a farm with my previous husband. I was often alone during the day, and, once, a worker from a neighboring farm robbed and assaulted me.

The police, my husband and many of our neighbors searched late into the night to find the culprit, but he was gone. I remember waking up with this thought in my mind the next morning: "What a nightmare." I didn't want to get out of bed, never mind leave my bedroom.

I realized that, no matter how much my perception about my safety had changed overnight, I had to get up and live my life. Of course I got trauma counseling and medical attention, but, in this case, resilience meant making a cognitive decision that I couldn't live in fear of everyone and anything.

A few years later, I started working for a well-known health and fitness company as a sales consultant. I had never done sales before and, therefore, took the training I received very seriously. I did exactly what they told me to do and soon started breaking sales records.

After a few months, the branch I worked for began to rely on my sales more and more to reach targets. I, on the other hand, felt the pressure and worked longer and longer hours until I routinely worked 14-16 hours a day. I worked myself to the point of total burnout and into the hospital. My body forced me to come to a halt.

Obviously, I couldn't stop working completely because I needed to earn an income. I had to return to work, but I also had to learn to handle my work differently so that it didn't rule my life. I found it difficult because the neural pathways in my brain equated long hours to success.

During this experience, resilience meant that I had to learn that having a balanced life would help me in the long term. I also had to put in a concerted effort to recover from burnout.

About 10 years later, I got divorced. Some days I cried myself awake in the morning and I cried myself asleep in the evening. At some point I realized that I had to "gather myself to myself," because no one else was going to do it for me.  I was responsible for putting my life back together again.

Here, resilience meant getting up every morning and tackling the day with a goal-driven focus.

Last Sunday was the second Father's Day without my dad. Last year it was shortly after his death, and I was still operating on autopilot. This year it came down on me like a ton of bricks.

So, right now, resilience to me means not to focus on thoughts of sadness, but to shift my focus to thoughts of gratitude for an exceptionally stable and loving father.

Mary Holloway (well-known foodie and speaker) says, "Resilience is knowing that you are the only one that has the power and the responsibility to pick yourself up." I want to add, "and actually doing it."

Resilience: Be Ready for Anything

During our Twitter chat last Friday we spoke about being resilient. Here are the questions we asked and some of the responses from participants.

Q1 What does "resilience" mean to you? #MTtalk

@ankitapoddar  The ability to bounce back from the depths of despair. To learn instead of allowing it to pull you down.

@JKatzaman Resilience is stick-to-it-iveness – not taking no for an answer or accepting setbacks.

Q2 What are the benefits of being resilient?

A common theme of personal growth and becoming stronger emerged:

@SanabriaJav Resiliency promotes both personal & interpersonal growth. It can help us work out our weaknesses & strengths.

@DianaProbst Being able to deal with unexpected setbacks. Being trusted to get back up and get on with things. Being seen as reliable.

Q3 Why do you think that some people seem more resilient than others?

@SnowinRI  Stronger folks just know how to organize their suffering so as to bear only the most necessary pain.

@alberMoire Some people know that there are triumphs and disasters in life, you need to deal with both.

@ShereesePubHlth Resolve! There are realities of life we can't change; the rest we make up as we go along. Those who resolve to rise, do.

Q4 When have you found yourself lacking resilience?

A few participants said that a hostile work environment drains their resilience. The following responses also struck a nerve:

@WonderPix It can be hard to be resilient when tired, worn down, sick or unhappy. Fix those things and it's easier.

@E_Toohig Sometimes when others sow seeds of doubt.

Q5 In which situations are you most resilient? Why?

@harrisonia I am most resilient when I have a strong support system of competent people nearby.

@BrainBlenderTec  I find strength in changing the world for the better as that's a battle not only for us but for our children.

Q6 What characteristics have you noticed in highly resilient people?

Apart from resilient people being goal oriented and purpose driven, they tend to show a number of positive traits. The following responses name a few of them:

@d78stock Emotional Intelligence. High levels of self-esteem. Openness to change. High levels of confidence. Very positive attitude.

@TwisterKW   Positive attitude. Take action. DO something. Focus on what can control. Talk to others. Share.

Q7 What are the pitfalls of being highly resilient?

@MicheleDD_MT You keep pushing beyond your limits. You may not know when to pull back & take care of yourself. Could lead to burnout.

@Midgie_MT Perhaps you might be expected to always be the positive one, the one who is able to bounce back from anything & everything.

Q8 What happens when you no longer feel/act resilient?

@ZalkaB It can be damaging and can lead to mental health issues too. Resilience for me is to also guard your boundaries to protect yourself.

@jeremypmurphy We disengage, sometimes we lose our way and wander a little. But not all who wander are lost (JRR Tolkien quote)

Q9 What techniques or approaches do you use to strengthen your resilience day-to-day?

@70mq I take a break by getting involved in community activities

@Yolande_MT I practice joy and gratitude every single day and it consistently builds my resilience.

Q10 What tips do you have for others to become more resilient?

@hopegovind Just think what worst could happen if this does not get resolve and is there a way out? There will be always a way out.

I conclude with these wise words from @harrisonia, "Become more resilient by listening to the stories of tragedy survivors."

Next time, on #MTtalk...

In the "old days," it was considered weak to reveal things about yourself that showed your vulnerability. Nowadays, being willing to show your vulnerability is considered a strength. We'd like to hear your opinion about why it's good if leaders dare to be vulnerable through self-disclosure. Please cast your vote in our Twitter poll here.

In our next #MTtalk on Friday July 7, our topic is "Daring to Be Vulnerable." To share your thoughts and ideas, please join us at 1pm EST/5pm GMT/10:30pm IST.

To participate in our chat about daring to be vulnerable, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on "All Tweets" and you'll be able to follow the live chat feed. To join the conversation, simply include #MTtalk in your tweet and it will show up in the chat feed.


In the meantime, here are some resources that will help you to learn more about developing resilience:

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