Resilience continues to be a very popular topic. Everyone is talking about how to build resilience in order to cope with the stresses and strains of everyday life and the odd exceptional circumstance.
It’s become very fashionable for organisations to look at building resilience in their people, and they look to the personal development and professional bodies, their human resources department, psychologists, coaches, and trainers to help them with this reasonable endeavor.
Yet there are a number of commonly used phrases that are frequently used unconsciously when working with resilience that may exacerbate the issue and make the situation worse. These phrases are used so often, you probably use them yourself in everyday conversation without even thinking about them.
Resilience involves “bouncing back”.
Resilience is often defined as your ability to bounce back from the stresses of life. The idea of resilience as an aspect of human behavior originates from material science, where it describes the property of a material to resume its original shape after distortion or stress – to bounce back. The issue with the phrase bouncing back is there’s an expectation that people will return to a state where nothing has changed.
You show good resilience by
- possessing a firm, reliable acceptance of reality
- a deep belief supported by strongly held values that life is meaningful
- and an ability to be creative, adaptable, and to improvise
These have nothing to do with bouncing backwards, forwards, or in any other direction. You continually evolve and improve yourself by learning from your environment and your mistakes, and in this way, you develop your resilience.
Resilient people are better at managing “positive and negative emotions”.
Emotion is a complex state of feeling, resulting in physiological and psychological changes that influence thought and behavior.
Emotions are controlled through the interactions of your amygdala and hippocampal complex within the limbic system of your brain. This part of your brain has no language processing ability. The thinking part of your brain lies in your neocortex, and it’s the neocortex that assigns the label to the emotion.
The issue with the phrase positive and negative emotions is that it assumes emotions to be binary, some to be good and some to be bad. We experience emotions for a reason. Emotions contain vital data or information about how we’re unconsciously reacting to changing events within our environment. They connect our physiology with our psychology. We shouldn’t put any judgment on emotions as to whether they’re positive or good or whether they’re negative or bad. It’s the thought process and the behavior that companies the emotion that requires the label.
Resilience is developed through the intelligent application and expression of identified emotions known as emotional intelligence.
Resilient people have a good “work life balance”.
Resilience is having a clear focus of what is important and being able to prioritise effectively. The issue with the phrase work life balance is that it compartmentalises everything into work activities – meetings, clients, trips, conferences – and life activities – family commitments, holidays, hobbies, keeping healthy.
Think about it. The phrase is actually meaningless. Life is not a one end of a fulcrum with work on the other end. Work is an integrated part of life. You only have one life and you just happen to live some of it while at work, and some of it engaged in other activities. Like most people over the age of 20, work takes up a major proportion of your life, and it has to be realistically integrated into all of your activities, and your other activities have to be integrated into your work to give you a rich, rewarding, and meaningful focus.
Resilience is developed through realising what is necessary and important, keeping fit and healthy, and building rewarding, authentic relationships inside and outside of work. It involves personal organization and finding ways to relax.
Perspectives on issues and your ability to look at problems creatively is lost under continued stress. The popularity of resilience tries to rectify this. However, your good intentions could be diminished by the inappropriate language that you use inadvertently.