Resiliency for Our Fast-Paced Ever Changing World
We live in an ever-changing world. As soon as we buy a new computer or cellular phone, there is an update.
Our environment, our economy, our health, our family situations are frequently in flux. Our children start new schools, get new teachers and coaches, join new social groups, and must navigate new demands from all of these sources. Learning to be resilient, or flexible under the influence of change, is a vital capacity to nurture given our fast-paced, variable world.
I often worry if my children cope with the pressures of our fast paced, changing world, I then reflect back to when I was their age to see if it was just as fast….and to be honest, I remember it was but just in a different way. There wasn’t much technology, well, not as it is today but things were emerging. However with no PCs or social media (PC was only at school – gulp, showing my age now) we socialised by going out, listening or playing music, joining groups. Yes, these where ever changing things, tape to CD video, to DVD my first mobile was in 1991, the size of a brick….so I still had a fast changing world.
But how does one go about nurturing the capacity of resilience?
I read a piece in a book by Joan Borysenko, Ph.D called ‘Its Not the End of the World’. She tells us there are five key tips for developing resiliency.
The first is an acceptance of reality that allows for an optimisation of future possibilities. If we are overly optimistic we may not plan for the possibility of change. Being realistic about this possibility provides an opportunity for us to problem solve and be proactive.
People who are overly optimistic may actually be protecting themselves from a thought they find intolerable. Resilient people are able to tolerate the difficult “what ifs”, because they believe in their abilities to adapt to new situations, even difficult ones. Appropriate realism does not mean we become fretters, it just means we are open to what may come our way and we believe in our capacity to deal with it.
Nurturing a social network also helps to encourage the development of resiliency. Cultivating allies and mentors to provide support during challenging times enhances our hardiness during these times. Feeling safe and having a deep belief that life is meaningful is a third key to resilience. Feeling safe can include a sense of spirituality or a religious belief, but it can also just mean feeling safe in one’s own ability to handle life’s challenging situations.
Having this sense of self-efficacy allows us to navigate life’s winding roads. Resilient people are also highly creative and adaptable. This is the capacity to make lemonade out of lemons. Dr. Borysenko tells the story of looking into a nearly empty refrigerator with three wilted carrots and half an onion, and deciding what meal to make.
Finally, resilient people have taken care of their “physical plant”. They exercise, eat right, and get adequate sleep. They practice mindfulness, being fully aware of the present moment without judgment, to enhance emotion regulation, focus, and the capacity to cope. They are aware of ‘burnout’ and take steps to keep their bodies running optimally.