In this episode, we wrap up the conversation on resilience by looking at some character traits of resilient people. The list is certainly not exhaustive by any means, but rather a starting point when thinking about your own capacity for resilience and how to ultimately grow it.
Awareness – Understand that life happens. Know that adversity is a big part of it. Life doesn’t always need to come to a screeching halt when adversity strikes; nor do we have to become paralyzed by its impact. Part of resilience is accepting that life is hard and that challenges will ensue. Having this mindset is an important first step to building resilience.
Self-Management – In addition to being aware that adversity is a fact of life, resilience is also about being aware of our emotional responses to adversity. Through this awareness, we are able to manage these emotions before acting or responding to adversity. If we don’t manage them, such responses can be compromised by heightened emotion or clouded thinking.
Optimism – Another trait of resilient people is the ability to be optimistic. Resilience doesn’t ignore what is going on around us or make us naïve to possible ramifications. It helps us to persist nonetheless and to choose hope over helplessness.
Constantly Strengthening – What happens when we lift weights for the first time or when we resume lifting after a long hiatus? That’s right, we experience pain. A parallel can be drawn with resilience. We have to work at building our capacity for resilience in order to become more comfortable with different forms of adversity. Early on, responding to adversity is not absent of pain. In fact, the pain may never fully go away when dealing with adversity. Yet, it should lessen or dissipate more quickly as our capacity continues to build.
Non-judgmental – To clarify, judgmental in this sense is not about judging others, but rather judging or making determinations on possible outcomes prematurely. Lacking resilience means assuming the worst in most situations. Conversely, resilience helps us to take a more cautious or optimistic approach. We remain hopeful. We look for growth opportunities or life lessons. Despite negative consequences, many times there is something positive to take away from the experience.
Curious – Stemming from the previous trait, resilience forces us to ask questions and seek information. Commonly, when gaps exist, we tend to fill them in with assumptions. Many times, those assumptions are negative. Resilience teaches us to arm ourselves with as much information as possible so as not to draw uninformed conclusions.
If after reading this list you feel a little deflated, realizing these traits simply don’t represent who you are; all is not lost. As we’ve said throughout this series, measuring resilience is best illustrated using a dimmer switch; not an on/off. It’s never too late to begin building your capacity. Start by engaging and interacting with other resilient people. What do they say? What do they do? Strive to emulate them. Next, learn to better identify your emotions. Once you acknowledge them, you will find yourself in a better position to manage them. And finally, be optimistic. Things rarely play out the way an overly negative or cynical mind believes it will. Look for the good. Look for the lesson. If you do, you are well on your way to building resilience.