Resilience is: being able to move your fulcrum

I have worked for several companies who have ‘resilience’ as one of their core values, in fact I even went to look at a school last week where ‘resilience’ was something they looked for in their pupils (who are primary school age) I’ve had interview questions based around it, I’ve had to work through scenarios to demonstrate I have it, and I’ve completed psychometric testing to prove it.

But these interview methods seem to imply that I either have buckets of resilience or none whatsoever; it’s something you have or you don’t.  In reality, resilience is something that can fluctuate, and is something we can actually develop and improve on. For me, viewing it this way is a lot more productive.

SeesawImagine this seesaw as a representation of our experiences. Positive and negative things happen to us; positive things accumulate on one side, and negative on the other. Resilience is presented as being able to have the seesaw weighted, regardless of whats going onto the ends, to the side of positive experiences. But you know what, that’s not how life works! Sadly, a lot of the time it can feel like there are more negatives than positives happening in life, we can feel like we aren’t coping and that we’re weighed down with this negativity.

What resilience really is, is our ability to cope in those situations, and the key to it lies in the fulcrum, the bit in the middle that balances the two sides.  We can’t control what comes in and weighs on both sides, but we can move our fulcrum so that negativity has less power over us. That is the key to resilience.

Where our fulcrum is will depend on our life experiences.  (I have talked about this previously in my blog post about stress – link here). Whether we had a tough upbringing, an unhappy time at school, or have had our hearts broken, all of these influence where our fulcrum is. If we’re having a hard time, our fulcrum can allow this to have a massively negative impact. But the key for developing resilience is being able to practise moving our fulcrums for ourselves, instead of passively allowing external experiences to do that for us. For me, the number one way to do this is through self-care –  time dedicated to you, and only you, to allow yourself to recentre and recharge.

Last week I took a day off work and went to learn to make pizzas. There was no scope for professional development, I wasn’t doing it for anyone else, and except for the couple of photos I took, I was screen free for the day. This day was mine, to do something I loved, because I wanted to (and I got to eat a lot of pizza which is always good).

I have had to teach myself to do self-care, so often it can feel selfish and a waste, ‘I cant book a day off to do nothing, when I have all those jobs that need doing around the house?’ But self-care makes me more resilient, it makes me feel like I can cope with things, gives me time to process and prioritise, and it minimises the chance of me getting to crisis point where I don’t feel like I’m coping at all.

Most importantly it allows myself to just be mindful and enjoy something for myself.  If we’re not having fun, whats the point?

What was the last thing you did to move your balance point? When was the last time you took a self-care day? When was the last time you asked for help? What have you done recently to stop being too hard on yourself?

You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control the impact they have on you – and how your seesaw balances.

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