There’s a lot of buzz about resilience at the moment. For good reason, it’s an essential component of surviving and thriving as a human being: survival of the fittest and all that. So when my colleague Tom Dillon asked some questions about resilience in support of his masters degree research, I thought I’d share my answers with him here as well.
What do you understand by the term resilience? For me, it’s about the capacity to bounce back from adverse experiences. How quickly can I shift from depleted to replenished? What is the quality of that replenishment? There’s tenuous replenishment, frail and vulnerable to more hits; there’s robust replenishment, likely to withstand further pressure. With clients I sometimes use the metaphor of Running on Empty – whether we reference a petrol/gas tank for mileage or physical energy required for a marathon, we need to be topped up for greatest range.
How does your own resilience present itself? I’ve learned over the years that I need to take care of myself in ways I was neither taught nor encouraged. The standard British pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps and strong work ethic doesn’t support my highly sensitive disposition. So I spend more time than most in inspiring, creative pursuits in support of my emergent work with clients. I choose to work with a handful of select clients at a time, knowing I can offer quality focus and attention – I’m better thickly than thinly-spread.
What are the key components of your resilience? The key for me is self-compassion. The hardest to attain! Yet without it, all the other things I strive for – self-awareness, self-acceptance, motivation, asking for support, setting boundaries, being seen and heard – well, they all fade into insignificance if I’m beating myself into a pulp. And developing a self-compassion practice (for practice makes permanent) has been essential. I still struggle with it, yet can gently acknowledge progress over time. And that’s the best we can hope for I think. Gentle progress over time.