Full Mettle Jacket – How To Build Resilience Part Two

Alongside the positive outcomes of strength, learning, and the motivation
to help others that we explored in Part One, another key to building
resilience is the love of achievement.
When you have a love of achievement and you start to become resilient,
all of a sudden you realise that you can succeed. At this point, resilience
becomes about application. You have learned something that you can
use to get you to where you want to go.
We assume that resilience happens naturally, but I believe that the way
in which resilience can be applied is at the heart of why and how it can
be taught. This belief is supported by the work of Higgins, who
concluded that resilience can be taught, cultivated and encouraged [1].
In my view, it’s all about being outcome driven, and it’s exactly the same
as the way a child learns to walk.
Watching my daughter grow up is phenomenal. Over the last couple of
weeks she has been pulling herself up to standing. A few days ago,
once she had pulled herself up to standing, she started letting go. She
has built the strength and confidence to stand and support herself, and
now she is ready to see where it can take her.
The interesting thing about watching my children is the different
approaches that they take to achieve the same results. My son would
launch himself across the room and crash into things – I lost count of the
number of times he hit his head.
My daughter has already taken a couple of tumbles from letting go
before she has found her centre of balance, and I can see her rethinking
her approach, building more strength and ensuring she’s steady before
she lets go.
They will both achieve the same results, but they have taken different
approaches. The same is true of resilience. However we build it, we can
still achieve the results that mean we can apply what we have learned.
I believe that we are organically built to become resilient. I also think that
we are often denied the opportunity to develop our resilience. This is
largely because there is a huge misconception about what resilience is.

It is seen as being about living through suffering, when in fact it is far
more about our traits and behaviours. Resilience isn’t so much about the
situations we face, as the way we respond to them.
Once you understand that building resilience is about positively affecting
outcomes, you can truly begin to develop new traits and behaviours.
Although it will always remain true that adversity creates agitation, your
understanding of what you want to achieve will allow you to begin
splitting emotion from reality.
You can then go into the process of repair, instead of anger. It doesn’t
mean that the emotions are no longer there, but it means that you can
react with love, instead of fear and pain.
By regulating your emotional responses you are able to recognise that
the things you experience in life are not exclusively about you. This is
explored by Gross, who examines the way in which people select and
modify situations, then change cognition and modify their responses [2].
Once you take yourself out of the centre of your experiences, then you
can see how you relate to the situation. This gives you the power to see
how the decisions you make will impact your destination.
Basically, you will have gained the serenity to accept the things you
cannot change, courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom
to know the difference.
By distinguishing these crucial differences, you can become humble and
aware of your blessings. Which completes the beautiful circle, leading
you directly back to an appreciation of what you have available to help
you continue building on your resilience.
Part Two References:

  1. Higgins, G. O’C. (1994). Resilient adults: Overcoming a cruel past.
  2. Gross, James J. (1998) The emerging field of emotion regulation:
    An integrative review. Review of General Psychology