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7 ways to become more resilient

7 ways to become more resilient

Resilience. We hear this word a lot. We hear people refer to resilience when they speak about change. But what exactly is resilience and how can we unleash its benefits to develop and fulfil our potential? Kathryn Eade, resilience expert and founder of Up+thrive, shares her insights and strategies on recognising and building resilience.

Does an elastic band have qualities? 

I launched my business with a goal, that goal was to work with and support people, mainly women, who work for others or for themselves.  Utilising my experience and expertise, I take them out of their comfort zone and help them navigate change successfully. I find it helpful to visualise resilience, here’s where the image of an elastic band comes in.

What do we use elastic bands for? Their purpose is to hold items together larger than the actual band itself. To do this it needs to change from its present form – it needs to stretch.  If there’s no stretch in the band, it’s not serving its purpose and if stretched too much it will snap. 

So, how do we get the stretch just right? How do we find the perfect balance, just enough to challenge us without breaking? The answer in part is resilience.

My definition of a resilient person is someone who has perfected strategies that work for them. They use them to cope with change and challenges, while keeping their self-belief and self-confidence in tact. 

I recently discovered the hot air balloon metaphor which describes change as resilience. I want to share this with you in the hope that you like it as much as I do. It’s super simple and everyone can relate to it.

The hot air balloon metaphor

The ropes: It’s the ropes that keep the balloon tethered to the ground, they represent the things in our lives that prevent us from moving ‘up’. They stop us from disrupting our usual routine with the things we are so fearful of. They tether us and keep us inside our comfort zones. 

When we think about tackling the things we are scared about we feel stressed. This stress stirs up a number of emotions causing the fight-or-flight response (also referred to as hyperarousal or the acute stress response) which results in us experiencing both physical and thought responses. Feelings of threat such as anger and frustration result in fight. When we take flight we distract ourselves and try to forget our worries; we use temporary strategies such as drinking, indulging in too much chocolate cake, watching back-to-back box sets or good old procrastination, rather than face up to the real issue.*

Someone who is resilient will be aware of these triggers and understand that FEAR can often be False Evidence Appearing Real. They know what their default strategy is and keep it in check.

The basket: This keeps us grounded with a healthy self esteem, not one which is arrogant or brash. The basket is also representative of the areas in our life that weigh us down, in particular certain situations where we feel less confident.

Someone who is resilient knows how to keep their baskets ‘small’ enough to take off. Reducing the size of the basket and making it lighter is a great way to visualise your resilience strategy. It’s key to reassure ourselves that most of our fears will never happen, and even if they do we will have the strategies in place to overcome them. Tiger Woods is a great example of resilience; all his failings, his injuries, his car crash have been played out through the media, but against all odds he won the Masters 3,954 days after his last major win. There’s more about his resilient mindset at the end of the article.

The balloon: This represents the way we can lift ourselves up, build resilience and maintain our confidence and self belief.

Someone who is resilient has in place a number of strategies to use. Here’s a few you could try:

  1. It’s good practice to visualise how you want a situation to go – think about how you will feel and what you are doing. If it doesn’t go to plan visualise how you will bounce back – prepare to come back from a set back. 

  2. Limit criticism. Refrain from spending time criticising yourself. Invest time in your next gain.

  3. Feel gratitude. Find something to be grateful for and give yourself positive feedback. Ensure you collect these memories of success – ideally by writing them down and keeping them all together in a special notepad or shoe box.

  4. Ask for support. Recognise the power of asking for help. Asking for help is not a weakness and you will reap the rewards.

  5. Seek pleasure and purpose. Fill your balloon up with things that lift you up. Research proves that to have a healthy mindset you should find time to focus on being present, this can be through exercise, walking outdoors in the fresh air, ensuring good quality rest periods and surrounding ourselves with other like-minded people.

  6. Be patient. Building a resilient mindset takes time and practice. 

  7. Ask for feedback. As well as praising yourself for your successes, ask people you work with or worked with previously to write down five words that come into their heads when they think of you.  Remember, there may be days when you don’t feel like you’re ‘sparkling’ but look back on your successes and how others see you and this will get you lifting your basket high off the ground!

So, how did Tiger Woods bounce back after such adversity?

  1. He is focused on goals and won’t be distracted from them.

  2. He analyses the events accurately.

  3. He visualises a variety of alternative scenarios.

  4. His thoughts are flexible.

  5. He steps back from obstacles and finds strategies to deal with them.

  6. He remains cool and calm under pressure – he practices deep breathing, visualisation, self-talk scripts and mindfulness.

  7. He has an inner believe to challenge himself.

Resilience is a strength we all need to nurture and develop. Take time to visualise what is holding you back, what you can do to keep your basket ‘small’ and what is lifting your balloon. Let me know how you get on and how high your balloon takes you.

Thoughts by Kathryn Eade, Up+thrive, and words by Amanda, Redwood Copy

Kathryn Eade is a board developer, resilience coach and speaker. She is the founder Up+thrive which builds on her two decades of experience and expertise of leading teams, running businesses and facing adversity to support anyone wanting to navigate change. Find out more here or connect with Kathryn on LinkedIn here.

* Daniel Priestley – Entrepreneurial journey – Monkey Brain