Building resilience – the ability to deal well with pressures and demands – depends to a great extent on the stories we tell ourselves. Do your stories, or beliefs, help you cope well with the challenges thrown your way? Or do they mean you tend to shy away from challenge, or succumb to the pressures?
Let me give you an example. If you are currently facing a particularly challenging period in your work, do you typically tell yourself: “I’m hopeless at dealing with this” or “I get stressed and overwhelmed with all this”?
If so, what story might you tell yourself that would enable you to deal better with the challenges? Perhaps it could be something like: “I can deal with this” or “I become stronger when I face these challenges head on” or “What are my options here?”
Once we realise that our stories have an impact on how we respond to any situation, we also realise we have a choice. We can influence how we deal with our challenges, simply by changing our thinking.
Resilience is something we do, not something we have. We take an active part in building our resilience – it’s not just that we’re lucky or that we were born that way. That means that building resilience is open to us all.
This is the thinking behind the ‘growth mindset’.
Is yours a ‘fixed mindset’, which means that you always deal with situations in much the same way? If so, you’re likely to get the same outcome. Great if the end result is the one you wanted. Not so great if it isn’t.
As Henry Ford once said: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
Moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset means recognising you have a choice and some power in the situation. It means letting go of your stories such as “This is how I am” or “Bad things always happen to me” or “I can’t deal with this” or even “Poor me”.
With a growth mindset, your thinking might be “What can I do here?” or “What are my choices?” or “How can I deal with this better?” And then taking action.
Which brings me back to the Water Level Approach I introduced last time. How can you minimise the pressures or demands on you and what can you do to boost your ability to cope and respond well to your situation?
Work this one out, then take action.