We need stress in our lives to function, as it keeps our edge sharp. How we handle stress is the main topic of this discussion though and is determined by our level of resilience.
A quick search of the Merriam Webster Dictionary reveals that Resilience means:
The ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens or
The ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.
Now what does that actually mean?
Life is hard, life is stressful and those in stressful jobs often get pulled, stretched, pressed or bent out of shape repeatedly. Have you ever noticed that young kids can have a meltdown that was caused by the smallest hiccup but often they can recover just as quickly as the problem popped up? Those of you with small kids can relate and are likely shaking your heads in agreement currently.
Resilience is all about how we react to those situations that feel like they are out of control. The age old question, when you look at a glass do you see it as half full or half empty? Your perception is incredibly important as it will allow you to shape the future of your decision making.
There is a concept called Automatic Negative Thoughts or ANTS. In Psychology, we will talk about ANTS in our heads. We aren’t literally speaking of the tiny little bugs that seem to infiltrate everywhere that they can without regard for your own personal space. We are talking about these automatic negative thoughts. When posed with a stressful situation, do you immediately think any of the following:
I can’t handle this
I’m never going to pass this exam
I’m not good enough to figure this out
This will never work out
or do you approach the situation in a positive manner and say:
This reminds me of the last time I had something comparable happen and here’s how I solved it?
This isn’t that bad, I studied hard and know the material therefore I can pass
Even if this doesn’t work out, I’ll still be ok
Our individual resilience dictates how we react to those and other situations. If your reaction is in the first group (ANTS), developing resilience will allow you to approach situations with answers that are in the second group. Over the next few months we will continue this discussion and I will share tips and tricks with you on how to improve your resilience through the use of Positive Psychology and other disciplines.
For those of you that will be attending, I will be presenting this topic as a lecture at the Firehouse World in San Diego, CA in February. The name of the lecture is Striving for 25: Developing Resilience for your Career. If you are unable to make it to San Diego, and wish to hear the lecture, please contact me for speaking engagements. #FHWorld17
Until next time, train hard and stay safe out there. If you need help, ask for it.