“When you are going through hell, keep going!” – Winston Churchill.
The above quote, for me, encapsulates the need we all have to build our resilience. Resilience is a mental toughness, it is the ability to bounce back from setbacks in our lives as well as the ability to cope with and overcome challenges we face in our lives. One of the key traits that all successful people have is resilience. A strong belief that comes from within that they have the capacity to overcome obstacles and not only survive setbacks, but also thrive in the face of these challenges.
I am lucky that I have had challenges in my life that I have had to overcome. We all have, in that I am no different to anyone else. However, how we learn resilience is by being allowed the chance to overcome obstacles for ourselves. Sometimes failing, but always being encouraged to get up again. Young people need the opportunity to overcome challenges for themselves. Obviously a parents natural instinct is to protect their child from hurt, however to do this throughout their lives is actually more of a disservice to a young person than actually helping them.
We learn more from failing than we do succeeding. It’s great to succeed at what we do, however in order to gain success, it’s important to first fail. Failure is more challenging. Failure asks us to look at ourselves and assess where we went wrong, what we could do better the next time and how we can perform better.
I remember going out to a school mini company competition a few years back, when a friend of mine suggested that there should be a prize in the competition for the team that failed the best. I remember asking the question, why would a team that failed be rewarded? To which he replied that, if a team fails, but during the interview show that they can see the reasons why they failed and how they could do better in the future, then that’s often worth more than being successful.
This point, well made, has stuck with me over the years and has helped me to take a more pragmatic approach to failure in my own life. There was a time that I took failure very hard, just ask anyone who plays football with me! However I have learned more recently that sometimes not getting what you want can be the best thing for you.
Resilience is also about taking responsibility for our own actions and behaviours. For me it’s an inner honesty. The ability to hold ourselves accountable, not to the standards of others but to our own standards. For our children we must not only instil high standards but the direction through our own example to maintain an integrity through these standards.
I have improved my own resilience by working on my self-talk. This is the internal dialogue we all have in our own minds all day every day. Humans have a natural negativity bias, which is a good thing as it makes us aware of the dangers or potential dangers in our environment and helps us to survive. Unfortunately it also makes us sometimes focus too much on the negative. To build resilience in ourselves and young people we need to encourage positive self-talk as well as nurture the ability to bounce back from life’s inevitable setbacks.
To help us to move away from negative to positive self-talk I have found it helpful to become conscious of what “thoughts” actually are. Thoughts are just thoughts; they are not a fact, and the good news is we can not only pick the thoughts that we want, but we can also change our thoughts. When we experience a setback, we can change our thoughts from something like, “this always happens to me, why do I ever bother to do anything”, to “it was tough not getting what I wanted today, but I know I can do better and I will eventually succeed if I keep at it”. I am not trivialising the process of changing our thoughts however. That in itself takes a lot of hard work, but it is worthwhile hard work as it can profoundly change your life for the better.
Teaching our children the concept of self-talk and allowing them to build their own resilience is, for me, one of the best things we could ever do for them as we are teaching them to become strong, independent people who will be able to not only survive in the world but also take it on.
It’s difficult to put into words the sense of achievement that you get when you battle and fight and keep going until you eventually reach your goal. It’s a feeling that has to be experienced to be understood and valued. But anyone who has ever felt like this would want the same thing for their children.
Whenever I am feeling tired, or when things are not going my way and I need to remember my resilience, I always think about a speech in the movie Rocky Balboa. It always gives me hope and encouragement every time I read or watch it. So this week I will leave you with this speech. Why not share your stories of resilience with other people in your life, you never know who might need it!
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep going forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
Link to shop: Choices – Facilitators Manual Description