Resilience is a hot topic these days and it’s going to be so for a while. Before getting to theory and practice, I’d like to share a story that shed some light for me on the subject:
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it through and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minute she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee into a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see?”. “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.
She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma and asked, “What’s the point, mother?”
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity… boiling water – but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after being through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
“Which are you?” she asked the daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond?”.
Of course, we are much more complex beings than simple food but the story revealed to me that a specific situation, no matter how difficult it is, can be turned into an opportunity or, at least, can have a better outcome than one would initially think.
In this process, of taking control over adversity, resilience plays a pivotal role. Emotional resilience is a coping mechanism that helps individuals to manage high-pressure, stressful situations. Sometimes described as ‘inner strength’, being emotionally resilient means that you can adapt to distressing or stressful situations, rebounding from these challenges afterwards feeling stronger for doing so. Being emotionally resilient doesn’t involve simply dismissing distress or sadness: instead, it’s about learning to adapt and rebound, emerging better equipped to deal with similar situations in the future.
Resilience is important to our sense of balance, whether that’s work-life balance or our ability to navigate challenging situations successfully. It helps us feel like we can control how we respond to events, even when we don’t control the events themselves and acts as a buffer against anxiety and depression. Moreover, emotional resilience helps us achieve more because it makes us better problem solvers when things go awry.
Emotionally resilient people have a specific set of attitudes concerning themselves and their role within the world that motivates and enables them to cope more efficiently and effectively then their non-resilient peers. Specifically, emotionally resilient people tend to:
- have realistic and attainable expectations and goals;
- show good judgment and problem-solving skills;
- be persistent and determined;
- be responsible and thoughtful rather than impulsive;
- be effective communicators with good people skills;
- learn from past experience so as to not repeat mistakes;
- be empathetic toward other people (caring how others around them are feeling);
- have a social conscience (caring about the welfare of others);
- feel good about themselves as a person;
- feel like they are in control of their lives.
Being emotionally resilient is highly corelated with being highly emotionally intelligent. Thus, having awareness, managing our emotions and establishing good relationships with other would foster emotional resilience while also helping to avoid pitfalls and problems that strong emotions would otherwise provoke.
Take a deep breath and envision this: your team members are getting along, when a conflict arises – they can easily understand what triggers them so they would talk about it and solve it before escalating, they are efficient and don’t keep grudges or build frustration, they have the courage to set realistic boundaries and are assertive enough to speak their truth, they seek your advice on important matters but, when needed, you can be confident that they would tell you the truth and not agree to more that they can carry, which could ultimately lead to animosities. How would you like to work like this?