The Art Of Building Resilience

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by Bryan Hyland, Commercial Director at Morgan McKinley

Building resilience helps one’s ability to cope with stress and adversity, whether that be in the workplace or in your personal life. Resilience is something which can be built over time and involves giving yourself the ability to deal with change, loss, mistakes, adversity and the poor performance of others as well as yourself. When you are stressed or finding it difficult to “cope”, this is when you revert back to your core values and connect with who you are as a person. These values have been developed over our lifetime and evolve as we transition from our 20’s to our 30’s, 40’s and so on.

The makeup of the person you are comes down to what you believe in. If you are looking for connectivity back to oneself, then you should focus on your purpose and the importance you place on certain priorities and values.

There are a few questions you can ask yourself when attempting to establish your priorities, such as ‘’I do this because?’’ and ‘’I work hard because?’’. Defining yourself and your core values is key to being able to complete these statements competently. There are some situations which we can control and some which we can’t but it is how we react to each of them which matters most. Life is always going to throw curveballs which are out of your control. Not everyone has the same level of resilience, but, like a muscle, you can build and develop it and draw on it when you need to.

The only constant in life is change, and sometimes there won’t always be a happy ending, that’s life! Nearly half the population will experience some form of mental health illness at some point, therefore its vitally important to develop the skills to cope and deal with any episodes or indeed, to allow us support a loved one who suffers from mental health issues.

Look at developing a personal plan, this can include –

  • Get and stay connected,
  • learn to laugh and laugh often,
  • learn from experience,
  • be optimistic
  • believe in yourself,
  • accept and anticipate change,
  • work towards a goal with a sense of purpose,
  • maintain perspective,
  • be imperfect and talk (express your emotions).

You may or may not have heard of a concept called the ‘’locus of control’’. This is essentially a concept that refers to how strongly people believe that they have control over the situations and experiences that affect their lives. Increasing your locus of control is one of the last of the human freedoms (the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances). Some people have an external locus of control, while some people have an internal one. Interestingly, external locus of control means you view life and your response to it as happening to you, while those who view life and their response to it as their choice have an internal locus of control. This corresponds to various differences between the two. Those with an internal locus honour feelings while those with an external locus feel victimised by theirs.

There are many different feelings – happy, sad, anxious, elated etc and feelings come and go. If you recognise a feeling, you are also recognising that it’s going to pass. We all get down, we all lose perspective and sometimes we all get in our own heads. A resilient person says ‘’I know what I’m feeling and I know it’s going to pass.’’ You don’t tend to have that conversation with yourself when you’re excited or elated, but you do when feeling low. Those with an internal locus feel empowered, whereas those with an external locus feel powerless. It is in these situations that the phrase ‘’a problem shared is a problem halved’’ rings true. Internal people expect ups and downs, external people feel stuck where they are. Internal people think optimistically, external people think pessimistically. Internal people seek solutions, whereas external people seek blame.

Some key tips on how to build resilience are as follows…

Reflect on your values

Everybody has setbacks

Stay connected

Invest in yourself

Learn healthy habits

Identify your strengths

Engage with kindness

Nurture friendships

Compassion heals

Express gratitude

Workplaces can bring with them many challenges. These can include but are not limited to; Excessive workload, Lack of autonomy, Bullying, Organisational restructuring, Constant change and Performance scrutiny, among others. Unfortunately, that is just the nature of work and work is not going to change. The challenges are everywhere. Everybody has got “something going on”, regardless of who they are, what they do, how much they earn, where they live, etc. Having the right attitude is a great help, family, friends and a great support network is next, and finally, having a purpose is crucial to becoming more resilient.

At Morgan McKinley, we are constantly striving to provide a supportive community for our employees. We do this by way of encouraging physical wellbeing, promoting a healthy psychological environment, providing specialist support to help maintain good physical and mental health and promoting open communication and strong social networks.

The real risk in terms of resilience is simply doing nothing. You can develop the tools, you can develop a support network, you can identify if you are an internal or external person, so now when you hit a roadblock, you will have coping mechanisms in place.