Do you recognise it when you see it?

Over recent months I’ve seen some significant changes happen on a personal, family and work level. It’s interesting to see how people cope with change and what it means for them. In particular though, I marvel at those who seem to be able to take change, deal with it, and move on with their lives in ways that are inspiring and humbling.

There’s a lot of factors I think enable someone to be able to act like this, and one of those in particular is the capacity for resilience. I don’t think it’s limited to resilience in and of itself. I think you have to have the capacity for it. I consider myself to be a fairly resilient kind of person, but do I always have the capacity for it? Now there’s an interesting question.

There’s a bucket analogy I’m reminded of. We all have things going on in our lives that fill our ‘bucket’. And sometimes you might go through something that means your bucket has run out of capacity and you are simply overflowing and struggling. It seems to me that those who have the capacity for resilience are those who have learned how to keep the bucket from overflowing and allowing themselves to manage it as they see fit.

How do they do this? Do you recognise it in others when you see it? Do you envy them for having it? I have no easy answer for this, but I’ll bet there’s a fair few things going on they have in common.

Support Network

I’ve talked about this before relating to other topics, but the power of a support network is not to be overlooked. This is why groups such as AA (Alcholics Anonymous) and Weight Watchers and the like are so powerful – they have a strong message and an equally strong support network ready to help you.

Positive Mindset

Y’all know I have a bias towards positive psychology. But here’s the thing. It bloody works. Negative thinking takes you down roads of cynicism, despair and negative thoughts. A positive mindset allows you to stay in a place of hope, possibilities and constructive thought.

A Release Valve

It’s important to understand in the bucket analogy above, that those with the capacity for resilience also understand that the bucket needs a release valve (see how I kept that from you? Very sneaky.) The water level doesn’t decrease on its own, it has to be released. That release activity should equally in kind be something which is supportive to your lifestyle.

Living a full life

I’ll take a leaf from Sikh teachings for this one. In Sikhi, we’re taught to live a constructive life (kirat karna). This means working for the good of your family, and in a role that helps society. It also means doing work which does not harm yourself or others.

Being self-aware

Those who have capacity for resilience are self-aware enough to know when they need to do something different. Be it on a day to day basis or a life changing event, they ‘get’ that something isn’t working as it should be for them, and they set about to make it happen.

Consideration for others

This might be a contentious one. Particularly because some people don’t understand the benefit in helping others. Far too many people have a ‘look out for number one’ attitude. And this isn’t about karmic retribution either. Research into positive psychology shows us that when people carry out an act of gratitude or consideration, the lasting effect of that act can be up to weeks later. This helps to build capacity by allowing you to have a positive experience.

This is far from exhaustive, I’ll bet there’s things I’ve certainly missed. And before I end this post, I’m going to extend the bucket analogy by adding this. We can also expand the capacity of the bucket by growing the bucket. As life goes on, so does the bucket continually have more poured into it. Our capacity for resilience in turn needs to grow with this so it doesn’t overflow.

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

7 thoughts on “Do you recognise it when you see it?”

  1. Lovely stuff Sukh – and I appreciate the way your list builds. Consideration for others just works eh. It creates a powerful and yet quite subtle flow of good stuff. Like a lot of folk I have to remember to show consideration, it is easy to get too inward looking and selfish. My ascent to fatherhood eventually taught me a lot about consideration. Took a while to realise that I had to…..give myself up I guess. And in so doing I got back more than I believed possible. Takes faith. And it’s worth it.

    1. Cheers Doug, I too have been learning about the consideration for others, and to be honest it’s the one I have the most trouble with. Not because I don’t consider others, I just know I should do it more, but in the right way. And that’s the hard part for me. I’ve definitely learned though that just learning to be with the kids is far more personally rewarding than I had originally thought.

  2. The usual high standard for us all to aspire to Sukh – great post!

    I think there’s also something about being able to deal with ambiguity when going through change. The more you can handle ambiguity the more resilient you are through the change.

    In terms of capacity there’s some really cool insights that Optima-Life provide on physical load in the workplace, specifically rest and recovery.

    1. David, you’re too kind, and I appreciate your comment πŸ™‚

      Spot on there, sir! Yes, of course dealing with ambiguity will have an important part to play in how we deal with change and our capacity for resilience.

      Taking a tangent, when the 7/7 bombings happened, an ex-colleague was genuinely in a fluster because she had no idea what any of it meant for anyone, and she didn’t know how to handle it. This was also true of small changes that used to happen during work. The irony of it all was she was our internal ‘expert’ on dealing with stress!

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