Are you a willow, who bends and flexes against all life throws at you? Or a fragile bloom, who crumbles under pressure?
Resilience: the dictionary definition is: “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”. Or, as Liggy Webb, founder of The Learning Architect, describes it, resilience is: “how to cope, when everything around you keeps changing”.
The one constant about life is that it changes. Whereas some people sail through change as an avenue towards new opportunities, others shy away from any new challenges or apparent upset to their normal routine.
Resilience is linked to self-esteem. If someone has low self-esteem, they’re likely to take criticism to heart, for example, or think any change of circumstances is down to their bad luck. Someone with high self-esteem is less likely to take change personally, which helps them to look at the bigger picture and adapt accordingly.
However, resilience takes this a step further, looking at the depth of one’s self-esteem. Someone who has high self-esteem may be good at bouncing back on the surface but underneath it all, they may become fragile if they receive negative comments from others.
During coaching sessions, I’ve often asked clients to consider where their self-esteem comes from, which is often a good indicator towards the values they hold. For example, if they place a lot of importance on their appearance, and this is the source of their self-esteem, I ask them what would happen if they were to suffer disfigurement through an accident, for example. As a result of this, clients often make more concerted efforts to boost their self-esteem in other areas of their lives.
If adapting to change is an issue within the workplace, I ask clients to consider where this fear may have originated; it’s not something we’re born with, only a negative belief we’ve instilled. We work through their self efficacy, i.e. the confidence they hold in their ability to handle whatever life throws their way. Part of this process involves looking back at events in their past, and how they successfully steered themselves through what they perceived to be an obstacle at that time. Once they see that they’ve undergone change successfully before, it helps build their confidence and self-esteem; they begin to see how the same principles can be repeated.
We have a choice when it comes to our resilience. We can choose how we deal with criticism, for example: we can accept it and let it hurt us, or not accept it, leaving it instead with the critic. I like to think about it as a snowball. Take the snowball, hold it in your hand – it will melt, but the time it takes to do so will hurt your palm. Just drop it; or better yet, don’t even pick it up.
Criticism says more about the person delivering it than who it’s meant for. Critical people are often unhappy and want those around them to be unhappy too. The only way they can do this is to try and bring the other person down, which, at the same time pushes the critic up. That is….if they choose to accept the criticism. If they instead say ‘thank you, but I don’t agree’, this doesn’t give the critic any power.
Self-esteem can be boosted by others but it’s fine to praise yourself. Extrinsic sources of self-esteem are great – but what happens if, for a few days, we get no positive feedback from others? It may seem an alien concept to us Brits, who have a tendency to see self-administered pats on the back as arrogance. I have found that keeping a daily journal, listing a few things I have noticed that I’m happy about or grateful for has improved my resilience. They’re not often big things, but that doesn’t make them less affirming.
The higher your self-esteem, based on the right values, and the stronger you make it, because it’s authentic and you’re adept at deflecting criticism, the more resilient you’ll be.
So, how resilient would you say you are? Are you easily thrown if your self-esteem takes a bashing? Self-esteem is a critical foundation of resilience. You can register to download a self-esteem questionnaire here: http://www.executive-life-coaching.co.uk/ – along with a range of other, free resources.
If you’d like help managing stress or conflict in the workplace, do not hesitate to get in touch. Or perhaps you’d like help with your confidence and self-esteem – contact me on 01302 220221.