Perception of Resilience

We now know from the first article that we gain or lose our resilience through a number of different sources. Whilst it may not always seem so, we can influence our resilience levels from each of these sources. One of the ways we can do this is through understanding our perception of how our resilience ebbs and flows.

Perceptions are created from personal events as well as hearing of others’ experiences. This is fine and it allows us to cope with daily challenges, however, it can be a double-edged sword. Interpreting something negatively can restrict our thinking, it can prevent us from trying new experiences. It can mean we avoid building new relationships with others or even ourselves.

During our early years, we learn to perceive others based on how they talk, how they dress and even their body language. The same applies to situations we experience. Adults help us interpret these situations, sometimes incorrectly and as a result, we may find we respond in ways that can hamper our goals.

Fear of failure is a very common example. We are taught to succeed. We learn that failure knocks our self-esteem. That we feel demotivated. We learn to worry about how others my see us if we have failed. We learn that those who succeed are rewarded and those who fail lose out. We may feel less competent. We may even feel that our negative emotions are a failure. We most likely will feel less resilient as a result. 

Perhaps in order to combat this, we might look back at the experiences that created this perception. Understand how we have arrived at these beliefs. What’s the evidence to suggest experiencing a failure is such a bad thing? Spend some time processing the experience. It’s okay to feel sad, frustrated, angry. Mood acts like a pair of glasses – it changes the colour of your perception. It’s important to feel the emotion, but it may be worth taking off the glasses and consider what you have learnt. How would you like these events to shape you?

Identifying what it is that builds on our resilience and what it is that compromises it can be hugely empowering. By actively interpreting the positive aspects of even the worst experiences we can learn to develop both our perceptions and in turn our resilience.

When we believe we can handle something, we feel more resilient. I should say that this is not to be confused with optimism. Perception of resilience is about interpreting your memories and experiences in a constructive way, for our benefit. For example, we can be optimistic about a job interview without being at all prepared. Alternatively, we can build learning from previous interviews; body language, tone, subject knowledge or even practising scenarios.

This approach can be applied in all kinds of ways. We might find that eating earlier makes us feel more relaxed at bedtime, meaning we get a better night’s sleep. It may be that being alone for some or amongst family for others helps get us through difficult periods. We might assess difficult conversations with loved ones and discover new ways to approach a subject. We might perceive that by taking regular breaks during our workday, we are able to achieve more.

Perception of resilience is about understanding how these challenges affect us. Understand how they impact our coping mechanisms. This in turn allows us to build strategies to increase our self-awareness and build a strategy that suits our needs. The recipe is different for each of us, but the skill of becoming self-aware and learning to adjust is a simple one to learn if we choose.

Next Two Articles:

• Bend or Break?

• Work-Life Resilience

NOTE: I should stress that Resilience is a relatively new line of thought being researched by various bodies relative to other theories. What I discuss here is from my observations as well as drawing on emerging research and reports. Such progressing evidence is likely to continue to develop over time and I’m sure we will be revisiting this subject as new research is published.
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