Do You Know How to be Resilient?

A self-assessment inventory.

Posted Apr 24, 2016

Alan Levine, CC 2.0
Source: Alan Levine, CC 2.0

This is the first in a three-part series of self-assessment inventories, "Do You Know How to Be..."  It's "Do You Know How to be Resilient?"

Part 2 is: Do You Know How to Be Practical?"

Part 3 is: Do You Know How to be Motivated?

We all know that even successful people fail but that they're more likely to rebound quickly.

How do they do it? And more important, how can you do it? This self-assessment may help:

1. Imagine you suffered a severe setback, for example, divorce, an assault, lost a loved one, lost money, lost your job, or got a serious diagnosis. Do you recognize that after a modest amount of grieving, the more grieving you do without taking at least baby steps forward the more likely you are to stay stuck?

2. Do you really want to bounce back or do you delude yourself into thinking you're better off staying mired, for example, letting someone else or the taxpayer support you?

3.  Do you appropriately assign causation for your failures? For example, "I have enough intellectual ability and luck played some role but my content knowledge and drive aren't great. I guess that's why I got 'laid off.'"

Alas, some of my clients who have been fired blame their boss, the company, and resist looking honestly at their own role in the firing. Conversely, some clients overgeneralize and believe their firing suggests they'll always be a failure.

4.  When you fail, do you appropriately generalize? For example, you think, "Well, I've made a competent effort at landing ten director-level positions at top-tier nonprofits and never gotten past the first interview.  So I need to change my job target." Conversely, you do not overgeneralize, thinking those rejections doom you to a McJob. Or that if three times in a row, your first date never called again, that you'll be alone forever.

5  Do you actually adjust your behavior and/or goals in light of your assessment of your failure's cause(s?)  For example, as appropriate, would you make the effort to learn something new? Have an attitude adjustment? Change direction? Concentrate on practicing a new behavior? See a therapist, coach, or counselor? Try or change medication?

6. After a setback, you're particularly vulnerable to dangerous actions: substance abuse, reckless driving, etc. Will you have the strength to resist? Do you need some sort of support: a  12-step program, cognitive therapy, or just a good friend?

7. Let's say you suffered a setback, the results of which are likely to be permanent. For example, after breaking your back you probably won't ever play football again. Or, if at age 70, you got fired from your CEO job, you may never be a CEO again. Would you accept the likely inevitability and figure out how you could change to something else  that you'll feel good about? Or are you more likely to wallow for a long time in self-pity?

8. Do you know yourself well enough to know if you need support and if so, from whom and what sort in order to bounce back: family support, a support group, a therapist, coming up with a more exciting goal, tackling an easier goal, a harder one, spirituality, or just doing it?

The takeaway

Resilience may require real effort. I hope that these questions help you figure out where to focus that effort.

Marty Nemko's bio is in Wikipedia. His new book, his 8th, is The Best of Marty Nemko.