Finding Resilience In Yourself
The pain or initial pain in all honesty started at the 30km mark. The realisation that I was only a little over halfway ignited the mental game that was to be played in the remaining 27km.
The voice inside piped up “What are you doing this for, why are you still running, you will pay for this tomorrow”. I fired back with “Tomorrow is tomorrow, focus on now”, “I will get this done”, “I will walk this next kilometre as planned around the river, soak up the fresh sea air and recharge like superman with the sun on my face”. I walked the larger part of the 30th km and it was a good chance to celebrate, fuel up & conserve some energy before asking the body to do what it had never done before.
Looking back on the kilometre splits you can see the games that played out for each individual kilometre. After the marathon mark of 42km, the times gradually lifted. Was this the mental game, fatigue or was the body slowly shutting down? The muscle fatigue was there throughout but why were the 56km and 57km an improvement in time? It poses an interesting question, was this a display of resilience or am I resilient?
First, we need to understand what Resilience Is?
Being resilient means a number of things and can be framed in a number of ways. If you do a quick google search you will start down a rabbit hole seeing article upon article of the 6 skills of resilience, the 7 skills of resilience, the 5 types of resilience, the 4 types of resilience and may end up becoming confused as to what you were actually looking for. So here I have opened the discussion on what you might think it is.
Defined in the Dictionary – Resilience (noun)
1) the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
2) the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
3) capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture. b) tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.
Resilience may take the form of physical, emotional, daily, monthly, sport, leisure or work. Being resilient often describes someone that has overcome a difficult problem.
Finding examples in sport is just one avenue we might easily identify someone who is resilient. For me running the 57km ultra was difficult but I did not consider myself resilient. I had knowingly put myself in that situation and knew before I started it would be difficult. Is there a difference between knowing and not knowing before we are presented with a problem or challenge? Perhaps my fitness is resilient. The word resilient implies that we have come from a place of discomfort or a place needing recovery. What if things are uncomfortable or uncertain around us yet nothing has changed mentally. Have you ever been in a situation where others might be stressed but for some reason you remained calm?
How does one build resilience in difficult times?
There seems like no better time to understand or become aware of our own resilience or meaning of it. This is an attempt to help you gain some insight for yourself rather than give you the answer.
From a personal perspective one example of resilience that I see every day is that of parenthood. To me, parents continue to show countless examples of resilience. I admire my wife every day, especially during this pandemic. I would consider all mothers resilient for overcoming 9 months of growing and carrying a baby. Then giving birth, establishing feeding, weaning, sleep training, sleep deprivation, lack of time for being something other than Mum, Mummy or Mama. To make it more challenging you no longer have that closeness with others where you can simply go for a playdate and sit inside with a nice cup of coffee and just talk. Offload in the presence of someone who has also been in the trenches. I am not as resilient as my wife yet.
Sometimes working from home allows us to take a break from the front line and mentally recharge. A lot of parents working from home could be considered resilient when upset toddlers run in the office space yelling “I want my socks off please!” or when we get an unexpected visitor through the door during an important client call. For one our toddlers are still learning about their feelings and emotions and sometimes they just have hot feet. Great clients understand that working from home has its challenges. It’s just what needs to be done during this time. Finding a positive reaction first is an important way to overcome these challenges. It sure makes the work environment that much more interesting.
The Importance of Framing
How have you framed the problem? Or how can we reframe the problem?
“Changing how we think about a situation in order to decrease its emotional impact”
(Professor James Gross, 2001).
If we reframe the way we think about something internally, we do not need to be resilient or overcome any problem. Knowing where we start on any problem or the attitude we have in a difficult time can give us more certainty and ultimately decrease the emotional impact. If we have less of an emotional reaction then we can make better decisions to overcome challenges.
If we are unable to reframe the problem the next natural step to awareness is looking at our mindset. Are we looking at the problem from a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? The concept of a growth mindset was developed by psychologist Carol Dweck and popularized in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
So what is the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset?
A fixed mindset is where we have thoughts that are limiting us in being effective, successful and impactful.
With a fixed mindset we might say things like;
• This is impossible
• I am never going to get this done
• I can not work from home with impromptu appearances.
The good news is that with a fixed mindset we have the ability to change it to a growth mindset in any domain. From a growth mindset, we can treat our failures as opportunities to learn and grow.
With a growth mindset we use language like;
• Not yet
• I need to work harder
• I need to find specialist help
• I need to adjust my work schedule.
Often this mindset is a trait learnt from our parents however it is never too late to adapt it to any situation.
What is your self talk like?
Does your self-talk come from a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? A simple tip is to start listening to your self-talk and write down exactly what you say to yourself on a piece of paper. It will surprise how you talk to yourself. Sometimes we would never dream of talking to anyone else like we do to ourselves. Our brains hear everything and having awareness of our self-talk is the first way we can overcome uncertainty. If your self-talk is limiting or negative, make a conscious effort to improve it. A good tip to training ourselves into positive talk is to pre-script something positive to read when you find yourself in a negative state. What would your future self after the pandemic say to you right now?
So what does being resilient mean to you? I would love to hear your comments. With the Ultra Marathon and preparation for the Ultra Tour Of Arran by the time the race starts, I would have done the training and practised my pre-scripted positive self-talk. Maybe I need to keep searching for my resilience and go even bigger than a 100km race…I better check with my wife and kids first.