If you want to be more resilient you need to be more optimistic

Feb 2014
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Reference: Brilliant; University of Pennsylvania

Being resilient means being mentally strong: not giving up even when you are facing failure or have failed and coming back from adversity stronger than you were before. Psychologists believe that anyone can learn to become more resilient – a concept that has been implemented in the U.S. military to help soldiers become as strong mentally as they are physically using a resilience training program.

Central to the training program is the ABC (Adversity – Belief – Consequence) model, which states that a person’s belief about events drives their emotions and behaviours. According to the model, pessimists are more likely to see the cause of negative events as uncontrollable, permanent and pervasive and as such become overwhelmed and ultimately depressed; whereas optimists tend to see them as temporary, changeable and specific so they believe they have some control, that they will be able to solve the problem, face the challenge or bounce back from any adversity.

The training program teaches the soldiers to understand their current tendencies and approach situations more positively. In the steps, which are highly applicable in the workplace too, the soldiers learnt to:

1) Be more self-aware and mindful of counterproductive patterns in their emotions, thoughts and behaviours and to regulate those tendencies.
2) Recognise what is controllable whilst still being realistic in order to solve a problem.
3) Avoid describing failure as permanent or inescapable. 
4) Be prepared to try new strategies, change their perspective and think more flexibly.
5) Identify their own strengths and the strengths in others and rely on them to overcome challenges and meet goals.
6) Build strong relationships through positive communication and a willingness to ask for and to offer help.
7) Minimise the focus on worst case scenarios, which can dramatically increase anxiety and a sense of being overwhelmed.
8) Cultivate a sense of gratitude. When you look for the good in every situation you enhance your positive emotions. (Research also suggests that individuals who acknowledge and express gratitude habitually actually experience health, sleep and relationship benefits).

In these steps the soldiers learnt to adopt a more optimistic attitude in order to become more resilient. If a more positive and resilient mind can help soldiers going into battle, perhaps it can help workers face the daily grind and any attendant adversity too. If you want a Resilience team workshop give Next Steps a call on 07771 332204.