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Exploring Resilience

Resiliency: Definition: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. Resilience means knowing how to cope in spite of setbacks, barriers, or limited resources. Resilience is a measure of how much you want something and how much you are willing and able to overcome obstacles to get it. It has to do with your emotional strength. Seven Factors of Resilience: Source: “The Resilience Factor” by Reivich & Shatté


Not true at all


Sometimes or somewhat true


Moderately true


Usually true


Very true of me

Assessing My Resilience: 1. Emotion Regulation – the ability to stay calm under pressure.

I can control the way I feel when adversity strikes.

I am good at identifying what I’m thinking and how it affects my mood.

If someone does something that upsets me, I am able to wait until the appropriate time when I have calmed down to discuss it.

When I discuss a “hot” topic with a colleague or family member, I am able to keep my emotions in check.


2. Impulse Control – failure to resist a temptation, urge, impulse or the inability not to speak on a thought.

I am good at shutting out anything that distracts me from the task at hand.

When a problem occurs, I am aware of the first thoughts that pop into my head about it.

If someone is upset with me, I listen to what they say before reacting.

I believe the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”


3. Optimism – hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.

I believe that it is better to believe problems are controllable, even if that is not always true.

When someone overreacts to a problem, I think it is usually because they are in a bad mood that day.

Hard work always pays off.

When faced with a difficult situation, I am confident that it will go well.


4. Causal Analysis – a person’s ability to accurately identify the causes of their problems.

When a problem arises, I come up with a lot of possible solutions before trying to solve it.

When a problem arises, I think carefully about what caused it before attempting to solve it.

I don’t spend time thinking about factors that are outside of my control.

In most situations, I believe I’m good at identifying the true causes of problems.


5. Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

By looking at their facial expressions, I recognize the emotions people are experiencing.

If someone is sad, angry, or embarrassed, I have a good idea what he or she may be thinking.

If a colleague is upset, I have a pretty good idea why.

It is easy for me to “get lost” in a book or movie.


6. Self-Efficacy – how well one can execute courses of action required to deal with prospective situations, and reflects confidence in the ability to exert control over one’s own motivation, behavior, and social environment.

If my first solution doesn’t work, I am able to go back and try different solutions until I find one that works.

I expect that I will do well on most things.

People often seek me out to help them figure out problems.

I believe I have good coping skills and that I respond well to most challenges.


7. Reaching Out – to make an effort to connect with another person, to show your interest or provide support.

I am curious.

I’m the kind of person who likes to try new things.

What other people think about me does not influence my behavior.

I look at challenges as a way to learn and improve myself.


Overall Score

Emotion Regulation

Impulse Control


Causal Analysis



Reaching Out



Seven Resilience Skills:

1. Learning Your ABCs: A = Adversity … B = Beliefs … C = Consequences

· Adversities: - Getting clear about what we view the adversity to be is the first step. - Some examples of adversity include: maintaining balance between work and family, juggling several tasks at once, dealing with people’s anger, conflicts with colleagues or family members, adapting to change. · Beliefs: - The thoughts that run through your mind – sometimes outside your awareness – that determine how you feel or what you decide to do in the midst of an adversity, challenge or new experience. - “Why” beliefs – why did this happen? These show up when we experience something as failure or when our expectations are not met. - “What’s next” beliefs – since this happened, this is going to happen next. These beliefs are often catastrophic and also highly improbable. · Consequences: - The way you feel and what you do in the moment of an adversity or challenge. - The goal is to have your emotions and behaviors be productive, appropriate responses to the facts of the situation, not knee-jerk reactions to your beliefs.




2. Avoiding Thinking Traps:

· There are eight thinking traps. While almost all of us have made all of the thinking errors at one time or another, each of us tends to be most vulnerable to two or three traps. - Jumping to Conclusions – without any data, we make assumptions and jump to conclusions - Tunnel Vision – we narrowly select data to drive our thinking, preferring evidence that reinforces our theories about ourselves and the world around us (echo chamber) - Magnifying and Minimizing – we overvalue some data and undervalue other data – we can go negative-positive or positive-negative - Personalizing – the reflex tendency to think of problems as one’s own doing, leading to sadness and guilt - Externalizing – the reflex tendency to think of problem’s as someone else’s or something else’s doing - Overgeneralizing – thinking in terms of ‘always/never’, ‘everyone/no one’ - Mind Reading – we believe we know what those around us are thinking and we act accordingly - Emotional Reasoning – drawing conclusions about the nature of the world based on our emotional state

3. Detecting Icebergs:

· Sometimes our beliefs don’t explain the intensity of our reactions to a given situation. When that happens, it’s a sign that you are being affected by an underlying belief – a deeply held belief about how the world ought to operate and how you feel you ought to operate within that world.

· Iceberg beliefs are akin to stereotypes or unconscious biases.

· Many people have iceberg beliefs that fall into one of three general categories or themes:

- Achievement – e.g., failure is a sign of weakness, my job title determines how successful I am

- Acceptance – e.g., it is my job to make people happy, it’s my fault if people don’t like me

- Control – e.g., asking for help shows you’re not a good performer, if I don’t get my way I’m not an effective leader

The first three skills are more about self-awareness and self-analysis. It takes courage to look at ourselves honestly and identify areas for growth and learning. The next four skills are about growing, learning, expanding, and becoming more resilient and effective.

4. Challenging Beliefs:

· Isn’t that fascinating!

· What else could be true?

· If I believe it, I will see it.

5. Putting It In Perspective:

· “I’ve had many catastrophes in my life, some of which actually happened.” (Mark Twain)

· If you tend to obsess or to blow things out of proportion or if anxiety is a major player in your life, write down what it is that causes you so much worry.

· Steps for putting things into perspective:

- Step 1: Write down Worst-Case and Best-Case Beliefs

- Step 2: Write down how likely you think these beliefs are to actually occur (Probability)

- Step 3: Write down Most Likely Outcomes (Greatest Probability)

- Step 4: Identify Possible Solutions

6. Calming and Focusing:

· A powerful tool that helps you to quiet your emotions when they are out of control, to focus your thoughts when they are intrusive, and to reduce the amount of stress you experience.

· Possible techniques to help you calm and focus:

- Controlled breathing

- Progressive muscle relaxation

- Positive imagery

- Taking a walk

7. Real-Time Resilience:

· Works by changing your counter-productive beliefs the moment they occur. As you develop this skill, you’ll notice that you have fewer counterproductive thoughts and that, when they do pop up, they are less potent.

· Three useful lines:

- “A more accurate way of seeing this is …”

- “That’s not true because …”

- “A more likely outcome is … and I can do …”

Putting it All Together:

If I want to work on specific Resilience Factors, I will work to develop these Specific Skills.

Specific Skills

Emotion Regulation

Learning your ABCs – to enable you to detect the beliefs that produce your counterproductive emotion

Calming and Focusing - to provide you with the means to invoke the relaxation response you need to begin reigning in the emotion

Impulse Control

Learning your ABCs – to track how your thoughts determine your emotions and behaviors

Avoiding Thinking Traps – to guide you to detect the impulsive beliefs you commonly entertain and how they work to derail your resiliency

Challenging Beliefs – to boost your impulse control and generate more accurate thoughts that will lead to more resilient behavior


Challenging Beliefs – to gain mastery over those things that are within your control

Putting it into Perspective – to determine likely outcomes

Causal Analysis

Challenging Beliefs – to channel your problem-solving resources into the factors you can control


Learning Your ABCs – to understand what motivates your thinking

Detecting Icebergs – to understand what motivates your thinking that results in intense feelings


Avoiding Thinking Traps – to head off your assumptions about the causes of your problems

Challenging Beliefs – to become more accurate in your problem-solving

Reaching Out

Detecting Icebergs – to uncover deep beliefs that may be holding you back from intimacy and from taking on new challenges

Challenging Beliefs – to test out your assumptions

Putting It in Perspective – to curb your fears about reaching out

Real-Time Resilience – to equip you to fight back against your non-resilient beliefs as they occur

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