How to cultivate your resilience for self-leadership?

I remember a particular challenging period of my life when I felt running out of perspective to handling the situation. My dad told me the story of a man who was preparing his way back home from a long period of emigration and after having built a fortune. The wise man he encountered on his way, and he paid in gold for each word, gave him 3 pieces of advice: “1. Don’t jump into troubled waters. 2. The short cut will take you longer. 3. Leave the angry of today for tomorrow.” This wisdom was of golden reward to me.

Today I know these 3 pieces of advice are about building and expressing resilience.

If you are successful you have an innate confidence that guides you through rough times. But sometimes we take our strengths for granted … until the alarm bell wakes us up or makes us stall. Burnout is just an expression of this phenomena. Pandemic has been a test of our resilience.

Taking care of an extended family of several generations, while pursuing passionately my professional growth, adapting to different cultures, and not counting the hours of work – I have a first-hand experience of the adversity the ambitions women are exposed to. I believe that cultivating resilience is a super women’s best friend.

How you deal with adversity provides a clue on whether you are a leader that inspires confidence, hard work and loyalty with vision and intelligence. If you’re someone who cares about long term success, you want to take care of your resilience as a precious asset that you build over time to use daily as well as in critical moments of life.

What does resilience mean?

According to Boris Cyrulnik, who introduced the term resilience for the first time in psychology, “the ground is resilient if, after a flood or a fire, it is able to provide life for new plants, new animals, starting another kind of life. It is not the same as before but renewed”. I believe resilience is the core strength we use to lift the load of life. It is the engine of our generative resourcefulness.

A resilient person manifests its resilience through the mindset, actions and accomplishments.

Resilience is more than mental toughness. Resilience is about a systemic fortitude composed of 4 components:

  • Psychological – our mental ability to remain calm and focused during a crisis and move on without long-term negative consequences. It represents the fitness of our mindset to positively affect our performance, well-being, and response to stress.
  • Emotional – our ability to manage stressor and their emotions in healthy and positive ways
  • Somatic – our ability to function and recover when faced with illness, accidents, or other physical demands
  • Community – to respond to and recover from adverse situations and challenges to the community. The pandemic situation is one great illustration of this kind of resilience

Each of these 4 components influences the strength of each other. We are as resilient as our “ weakest component”. It helps to know that way before our body gives a signal of dismay, it is our brain that has created habits corrupting our somatic resilience and agility!

How to Build and Cultivate Resilience

Resilience is not a fixed trait.

Developing resilience is both complex and personal. It involves a combination of inner strengths and outer resources, and there isn’t a universal formula for becoming more resilient. We know, however, that it is not the absence of risk factors but rather access to generative resourcefulness that play a significant role in a person’s capacity to confront and work through stressors.

Resilient women do experience stress, setbacks, and difficult emotions, but they tap into their strengths, their unique ability of offering and receiving affection, and seek help from support systems to overcome challenges and work through problems. Women contain naturally a force of life, that when combined with conversational intelligence and creating meaning that transcends them, makes them resilient beyond norm.

Busy, entrepreneurial, professional super women are however often inattentive in self-care and undecisive in setting boundaries to conversations and relationships that detriment their resilience and potential. More often than not, resilience takes attention after serious setbacks. Wherever you are in your life journey, you can start now either a process of bouncing back from adversity or a process of cultivating your resilience mindset to walk your path with ease, content, and complete.

Curious about your resilience? Check the inventory at the end of this article.

To start a process of bouncing back from adversity and building resilience:

Develop self-awareness: Understand / recognize signs of compromised resilience – a state of shattered beliefs about self, others, the future. Understanding how you typically respond to stress and adversity is the first step toward learning more adaptive strategies. Self-awareness also includes understanding your strengths and knowing your weaknesses and building some clarity on your values and beliefs around “right and wrong”.

Learn self-regulation and coping skills:

  • Love & be loved. Re-establish affectivity, that key capacity to receive feelings/vibrations of love beyond words. Love is nourishment. Without love our brain becomes atrophic, it withers, due to lack of stimulation. Without love our generative resourcefulness is blocked.
  • Develop clarity in a fundamental sense of right and wrong helps to self-regulate, experience self-worth and make responsible choices. Hate and resentment prevent resilience. Setting healthy boundaries help not to take on the hate and the suffering of the others or not transmit it to the others.
  • Learn stress-reduction techniques, such as guided imagery, breathing exercise, and mindfulness training, which can help regulate your emotions, thoughts, and behaviours.

Engage in constructive self-disclosureto give meaning to what happened with words. Often it is the memory in image or in feeling of what you have experienced that carry a burden in how you bounce back. Constructive disclosure helps to lay of that burden and left up lighter.

Create a narrative into which the challenge or loss is seen as a fork in the road that enhances the appreciation of paradox – loss and gain, grief and gratitude, vulnerability and strength.

Know and hone your strengths. you feel more capable and confident when you can identify and draw on your ability to handle situations effectively, your talents and strengths. True self-confidence is rooted in competence.

Craft a new identity – develop meaning and purpose and create new ways to be altruistic. Start thinking about a project and a dream that transcends you.

What can be done?

Despite the extraordinary renewal force of women, resilience is not something we can turn on and off as needed. It is built over time. To build resilience over time, we need to look at it as a process.

To cultivate a resilient mindset:

Polish your character: Although resilience is not a personality traits, it is influenced by your character. Flexibility, adaptability, and perseverance are character traits that influence your resilience tank. You can tap into your resilience by changing certain thoughts and beliefs. People who believe that both intellectual abilities and social attributes can be developed show higher resilience to adversity.

Increase optimism. People who are more optimistic tend to feel more in control of their outcomes. People who don’t give up have the tendency to interpret setbacks as temporary, local or isolated events and changeable. People who give up have learned that whatever they do they do not succeed or have any control on the outcome –they learn helplessness – they stop trying to react to setbacks and passively take on whatever comes their way.

To build optimism, focus on what you can do when faced with a challenge, and identify positive, problem-solving steps that you can take. Setting realistic goals and taking breaks to recover from stressors help nurture resilience.

Strengthen connections. Support systems can play a vital role in resilience. Bolster your existing social connections and find opportunities to build new ones. Close ties to family, friends, and community provide a sense of security and belonging. It is impossible to ‘become yourself’ on your own, alone. You need to build your own resilience with the support of other people.

Nurture wholistic fitness: to boost your resilience beware of its’ 4 components. When strengthening psychological fitness, we develop self-awareness, self-regulation and coping strategies, we learn to handle positive and negative affect, strengthen perceived control, on the events, increase self-efficacy, self-esteem, optimism, adaptability and emotional intelligence. Building such psychological fitness requires developing skills that allow to create emotional, family, social, spiritual and physical fitness.

Enhance conversational intelligence – developing strong relationships and finding creative solutions to problems happens through conversations. Assertive communication and effective praise create bonding, trust and connection. Destructive conversations are a real source of toxic impact on people’s resilience. When you learn that you can control how the interaction with other people impacts your emotions and when you learn that you can control the outcomes of your conversations, you are more likely to view yourself as capable and confident. The words you chose express the abundance of your heart and the agility of your mind.

Learn from adversity: You learn from adversity when you:

  • Engage others in shared meaning.
  • Use distinctive, compelling voice – chose your words to create aspiring worlds.
  • Show Integrity – make your deeper held values prevail when making a tough call.
  • Show adaptive capacity – ability to grasp context (weight many factors) and hardiness to persevere despite disaster.

Successful people have a strong capacity to learn from adversity, have an innate craving for personal development, curiosity and passion for life. Most people bounce back to where they were before the setback. I hope this article helps you be part of those who bounce back renewed and stronger than before.