Many people still live under the illusion that failures in life make us failures as people. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
It is those of us that fail but continue to get up, brush ourselves down and carry on, that ultimately have the power to obtain whatever it is we desire in life.
So many of us fall into self-pity or despair when a negative life event or a failure occurs (I am including my own past experiences here); whether it be personal or career-related, which can result in so much wasted time and misery.
So how do people overcome challenging life events and experiences, like the death of a loved one, losing a job, or being diagnosed with a serious illness? Most people react to such circumstances with a surge of negative emotions and a sense of uneasiness. However, over time, they somehow adjust and adapt. People are able to “bounce back” from adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress, because of their inherent resilience.
As stated, I learned during my (long!) life journey that resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. However, we can bolster and strengthen it so that recovery after these events is at a much greater pace, and the learning greater.
This learning is more effective with the support of a Life Coach but I have included a tool below that will assist you to build your own resilience plan should you not be ready for that step at this moment in time.
Examining past, challenging experiences with my clients enables them to draw on their learning during these challenging times, so that they can utilise it whenever it is again needed. We look at what it was exactly, that enabled them to get through a period of illness, a divorce, or being laid off at work etc. That is, which supports did they call on, what strategies did they use, and what solutions did they find?
So, let’s do something practical. Let’s ensure that you have a resilience plan all drawn up for when you need to call on it; rather than having to do it during times of stress, pain or bereavement.
Your plan will be highly individualised and therefore personally meaningful and useful. It does not matter in the slightest, therefore, if it seems silly to others (I have a particular film I watch in times of stress!) as long as you know, and have at least some proof from past experience, that it works for you.
Resilience is the ability to cope with whatever life throws at you, and bounce back stronger and more steadfast than before. Resilient people work through life challenges using personal resources, including social support, coping strategies, sagacity (which is the wisdom and insight that we hold onto), and solution-seeking. This exercise helps you draw on your resilience resource to build a personal resilience plan, which you can use to help you combat any future challenges.
Part 1: My Past Sources of Resilience
Step 1. Recall a recent example of resilience Think about a time recently when you overcome a challenge or setback in your life. Perhaps you injured yourself, received some negative feedback at work, or had an argument with a friend or family member. Briefly describe this difficulty below.
Step 2. Identify supportive people What ‘supportive people’ in your life kept you standing when it would have been easier to fall down? For instance, did you call an old friend, ask a teacher for advice, or perhaps a parent or grandparent gave you a pep talk. Write down who you called on for support in the top right cell of the table (see the example at the bottom of the article)
Step 3. Identify strategies What ‘strategies’ did you use to help yourself cope with any negative thoughts and feelings that showed up in response to the difficulty? For example, did you meditate, write in a gratitude journal, go for a walk, or listen to a particular song or type of music, or have a massage to release tension. Write down the strategies you used (see the example at the bottom of the article)
Step 4. Identify sagacity What ‘sagacity’ helped you bounce back from this difficulty? Sagacity is the wisdom and insight that you hold onto. It can come from song lyrics, novels, poetry, spiritual writings, quotes from the famous, the sayings of your grandparent, or learning from your own experience. Write down your sagacity (see the example at the bottom of the article).
Step 5. Identify solution-seeking behaviours What solution-seeking behaviours did you display to help you actively deal with the problem? For example, did you problem-solve, or seek out new information, plan ahead, negotiate, speak up and voice your opinion, or ask others for help. Write down the solution-seeking behaviours you displayed (see the example at the bottom of the article)
Part 2: My Resilience Plan
Step 6. Describe a current difficulty or challenge that you are facing. Detail it below.
Step 7. Apply the resilience plan to the current difficulty Given the social support, strategies, sagacity, and solution-seeking behaviours that helped you last time, let us look at how you could use the same or similar resources to help you bounce back from this current difficulty you are facing (identified in the previous step). Read through your completed plan and write down the skills, supports, strategies, and sagacity that could work again for you in a table that resembles the example below but now you are writing in the present tense, not past.
Allow some flexibility here in the sense that the same type of social support/ strategy/ sagacity/ solution-seeking behaviour could be tweaked according to your current situation, for instance going to your manager rather than a parent for support in the face of a work-related problem.
Step 8. Carry out your resilience plan The next step is to put your resilience plan into action. To do this, consider the order in which to use your different supports, strategies, sagacity, and solution-seeking behaviours: which resource is most feasible to start with? Often the most feasible resource is the smallest step that you can take, such as calling your partner. On your resilience plan (present situation), place the number 1 next to the first resource you will use. Then, continue to number your different resources in the order in which you would feasibly use them. Then, go ahead and action your first resource, and continue to work through your resilience plan (in order) until you have overcome this difficulty. Once you have come through the other side, please move on to the next step.
Part 3: Evaluation
Step 9. Evaluate your resilience plan You would usually complete this with your coach and discuss how it helped and the next steps needed, but if you are completing this work alone, think about the following:
■ How was it for you to carry out your resilience plan? Did it help you bounce back from this difficulty?
■ What resources (specific skills/supports/strategies/sagacity) were most helpful to you? Why?
■ What resources (specific skills/supports/strategies/sagacity) were least helpful to you? Why?
■ Did you not use any resources, and if so, why?
■ Is there anything you would like to add to your resilience plan?
■ In what other areas of your life could you use your resilience plan? How might things improve for you?
Example of a completed Resilience Plan
Difficult situation: Stuffed up a job interview and did not get the job
Supports – that keep you upright
- Called my partner Joe – 0432182074
- Called my Mum – 0409867222
- Booked an apt with my therapist
Strategies – that keep you moving
- Went for a walk
- Smiling Mind meditation app
- Calming breathing technique
- Played with my dog
- Did some gardening
- Wrote in my gratitude journal
- Expressive writing
Sagacity – that gives you comfort and hope
- Remembered that growth comes from mistakes
- “This too shall pass” – sticky note on the fridge
- Thought about what I could do differently next time and
- wrote down on paper
Solution-seeking behaviors you can show
- Asked for feedback from job interviewers
- Applied for 3x new jobs
- Sought professional coaching for job interviewing
See how you get on and should you wish to discuss any element of your plan, or indeed your personal development in general with me; feel free to book a completely free, no-obligation breakthrough call.
Good Luck 🙂
Jayne Warwicker BSc – Founder of the Lioness Power Coaching System.