Resilience- how to cope under pressure
I attended Liggy Webb’s Resilience Master Class in Manchester a few years ago and I’ve been a huge fan of her work ever since. I am so excited that she has agreed to guest blog for us. Liggy has worked all over the world supporting individuals and organisations through her amazing knowledge and specialism of this subject. She ignited my passion for the subject which I taught to staff and managers in the NHS at the time. See my blog “How the Circle of Influence can help you lead a better life”.
Resilience is such an important skill/behaviour/attitude to have in order for us to cope with difficult situations thrown our way. That’s not to say that we will always be resilient all of the time and in every situation! Learning how to “be” resilient is crucial when living with a problematic drug or alcohol user. Whether you are in this situation or not, Liggy wrote this guest blog for me last year and it’s just too good not to re-post:
By Liggy Webb
The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.
What is resilience?
Some people describe resilience as the ability to bend instead of breaking when experiencing pressure or the ability to persevere and adapt when faced with challenges. These abilities help people to be more open and willing to take on new opportunities. In this way resilience is more than just survival, it is also about letting go and learning to grow.
Personally I find the topic of resilience fascinating and have spent the last few years deep in research exploring the habits and behaviors of resilient people. In the work that I do with the United Nations travelling to some very challenged parts of the world I have had the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life.
For my latest book Resilience – How to cope when everything around you changes I interviewed over 100 people who had experienced varying degrees of set backs. From these interviews and various other research channels I was able to create a competency framework around resilience, developing a deep understanding of the necessary coping strategies for dealing with adversity.
Then I was given a huge opportunity to personally put my knowledge and the strategies that I had designed to the test!
Two years ago, quite out of the blue after feeling very lethargic and out of sorts, I was diagnosed with a very rare tumour actually growing inside my heart. The prognosis was critical and open-heart surgery was the only way to proceed. For someone who is in good health and still in my forties it came as a huge shock. I guess we never really imagine things like this are going to happen to us until they do! The most significant thing that I learnt was that whilst we may not be able to control some of our circumstances, we can absolutely choose the way we respond to them.
I think in many ways I surprised myself, you never really know how you will react in these situations and it’s amazing how resourceful we can be when we need to.
I learnt so many things and I can honestly say it has certainly taught me a few things about recovery and indeed my own resilience. It was without doubt, life changing, with so many defining moments.
Top tips for resilience
Recently I was interviewed about my own experience with regards to recovery and asked to define the three most important resilience behaviors and this is what I concluded:
1. Accept your current situation
Let’s face it we all like to be in control, however, in some situations you have to put your trust in others hands and ask for help. For example, if we think of what we can control and what we can’t, we need to accept we cannot change the choices other people make. We can only change the way we behave. Sometimes acceptance of your situation and taking care of yourself is the best use of your energy.
Tips for accepting your current situation
- Remember acceptance is not about resignation, it is the recognition that fighting a situation that you cannot change may be a waste of personal resources
- Acceptance will put you in state of flow which will help to reduce stress and anxiety
- Learn that you cannot control other people’s choices
2. Take personal responsibility
Life can be very unpredictable and invariably we will all be subjected to various set backs and personal challenges. You can’t always control what happens to you in life.
You do however have total control about how you choose to respond to those situations. By taking personal responsibility for your reactions and attitude you will be far more empowered to cope and manage the ultimate outcome.
Tips for taking personal responsibility
- Acknowledge that you are in total control of your response to any situation that presents itself to you
- Be aware of the victim trap and focus on what you can do
- Avoid the blame game and spend your time seeking solutions – spend your time instead seeking solutions
3. Be positive
Thinking positively is not about putting your head in the sand and being unrealistic, as some people may believe. With a positive attitude you can recognise the negative aspects of a situation and then make a conscious decision to focus instead on the hope and opportunity that is available. This releases you from getting locked in a paralysing loop of negative emotion and allows you to bounce back from adversity and challenging experiences.
Tips for seeing the glass half full
- Try to make a conscious decision to challenge each negative thought and flip it over into a positive thought
- Understand that every experience in your life whether it is good, or bad will bring a valuable lesson with it which will enable you to cope better in the future.
- Remember that life is ultimately what you make of it and your attitude can have a huge impact on everything you experience
Being resilient takes effort and practice. It may well feel sometimes as if you are taking one step forwards and two steps back, almost as if you are doing a little dance with life. The key however is to keep moving and to not lose the faith that you can and will pull through if you remain positive and hopeful. The quicker that you can start recovering and bounce back, the better because life can pass so quickly and this is your golden opportunity to make the best and the most of it.
More information about resilience
Thanks so much to Liggy for writing a blog for us.
For access to a complimentary life skills library email firstname.lastname@example.org
Click to access The Little Book of Resilience
Check out Liggy’s Website
Please comment about what you do to keep resilient.
I can help
My service, The Vesta Approach, supports families affected by a loved one’s substance use. You can access confidential support from me wherever you are in the world. I will help you to get your loved one into treatment and lead a better life. I offer face to face sessions in the Manchester (UK) area or via Skype worldwide.
I also have an online therapeutic programme. Take a look at my services here
Sign up to my mailing list here to keep up to date with Vesta news and get my free Ten Steps to Family Recovery download.