A Coaching Power Tool created by Iris Hainstock
(Retirement, Re-Career & Life Transition Coaching, CANADA)
It’s not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.
What Is Emotional Resilience?
Emotional resilience refers to one’s ability to adapt to stressful situations or crises. More resilient people are able to “roll with the punches” and adapt to adversity without lasting difficulties. Resilience is best understood as a process. It is often mistakenly assumed to be a trait of the individual, an idea more typically referred to as “resiliency.” (Wikipedia, June 22, 2013)
Resilient — The ability to recover readily from illness, depression or adversity; bounce-back quickly from difficulties or crises. (Oxford English Dictionary – 2007)
What is Resignation?
Unresisting acceptance of something as inescapable; the act of giving-up; to accept and put-up with; to make the best of an undesirable situation; an accepting, unresistable attitude; surrender, despair, defeatism, abdication. More resigned people have a harder time with stress and life changes, both major and minor. (Wikipedia, June 22, 2013)
John has worked for 48 years for a large corporation; from the time he graduated from high school until long past the time when he could have retired with a full pension. He is very pleasant, does flawless work, and has nearly perfect attendance. John does everything “by the book”. He is a “black & white” type of person. Grey is very hard for him to conceive. Rules are very important to him and if there is a situation that steps outside of the rules, he will become quite uncomfortable and question the situation or next steps. John does take some initiative, but is risk averse and always has a detailed account of his actions to back him up should anyone question him.
John is very reserved; a small, thin, pinched man. He can be very witty and humourous, but only with those he has known for a very long time and has come to trust. He is quiet at most staff meetings and training sessions, but will speak-up if he perceives something unfair, unjust, or incomprehensible.
John has endured many organizational changes within the corporation, each one harder in succession. He is very unhappy at work and has started doing only an adequate job. The tone of his responses in discussions with colleagues at coffee and lunch breaks is very cynical. He doesn’t hold out much hope for the future. He tells his colleagues that he can’t retire because he doesn’t want to be home alone with his wife. She got diabetes 5 years ago and has not been able to manage it. She has been to several specialists who have instructed her (them) on how to manage her disease. However, when John goes home after work, he never knows with what he may be greeted. His wife becomes verbally and physically abusive when she has low blood sugar reaction. Other times if she isn’t having a reaction, then she is in a diabetic coma. The ambulance is called every weekend to attend to her, though she always refuses to go to the hospital. He is often tired at work because he has been up all night trying to take care of his wife.
It is rare that John and his wife attend social events because his wife often goes into diabetic shock in public and is difficult to manage. If you were invited to their house, you would observe that John’s wife “wears the pants in the family” and John does exactly what he is told. He always checks with his wife first before taking action and always checks in with her before or while he is speaking.
In a word, John is “resigned” to his life the way it is. He sees no options and believes that no matter what he tries makes little or no difference. He is stuck in a difficult relationship and in a job that he hates.
John has given away his power, probably over many years, or maybe never had a chance as a child to build up his resilience. He has chosen to put-up with his situations at home and at work, rather than search for other choices or opportunities. His self confidence, self worth, self esteem, and feelings of control over his environment and life have eroded.
Factors that Contribute to Resilience
While people vary dramatically in the coping skills they use when confronting a crisis, researchers have identified some key characteristics of resilience. Many of these skills can be developed and strengthened, which can improve one’s ability to deal with life’s setbacks.
- Close relationships with family and friends
- A positive view of yourself and confidence in one’s strengths and abilities
- The ability to manage strong feelings and impulses
- Good problem-solving and communication skills
- Feeling in control
- Seeking help and resources
- Seeing yourself as resilient (rather than as a victim)
- Coping with stress in healthy ways and avoiding harmful coping strategies, such as substance abuse
- Helping others
- Finding a sense of purpose or positive meaning in one’s life despite difficult or traumatic events
- Sense of Humor: They’re able to laugh at life’s difficulties.
Resilience does not eliminate stress or erase life’s difficulties. Instead, it gives people the strength to tackle problems head on, overcome adversity and move on with their lives. Even in the face of events that seem utterly unimaginable, people are able to marshal the strength to not just survive, but to prosper.
Some individuals come by these abilities naturally, with personality traits that help them remain unflappable in the face of challenge. However, these behaviors are not simply an inborn trait found in a select few individuals. According to many experts, resilience is actually quite common and people are very capable of learning the skills that it takes to become more resilient.