Personal resilience is our ability to recover from setbacks, embrace change, and to soften the impact of hardships. A resilient person can handle difficult experiences and bounce back afterward. Resilience is a natural human state that we have acquired over millions of years of evolution, but there are ways to increase this quality so we are better able to survive Post Petroleum Stress Disorder.
The survival of the fittest mentality prevalent in our society needs to be balanced with the recognition that in nature there is also plenty of co-operation among individuals and species. Living sustainably is more than knowing how to reduce our carbon footprint or preserve natural resources, it’s also about making ethical and practical choices in our lives.
Personal Resilience Assessment Tool
Resilient people develop a healthy self esteem through positive thinking, uncovering and discarding negative thought processes, and developing healthy problem solving skills. They strive to be involved in events rather than feel isolated and powerless. They view stressful changes as learning opportunities.
In our society we are increasingly feeling isolated as we are exposed to advertising messages that tell us we aren’t worthy unless we wear the latest fashionable clothes, drive a new car, belong to the right social groups, obtain the approval of others, etc. While having material goods can improve our quality of life, the belief that our self esteem depends on having all this ‘stuff’ undermines our ability to adjust to difficult circumstances.
Less resilient people have low self-esteem, which leads them to alternate between feelings of superiority and inferiority. They isolate, become passive, doubt their abilities, and blame others for their problems. They try to maintain a false identity rather than behave authentically.
When we work at establishing resilience in our communities, we have a choice whether we impose certain changes on others, or to work with one person at a time and encourage them to nurture their natural resilience. This can involve educating, supporting, listening, accepting, being open to change, and acting on feedback.
The Transition approach is much better at enabling resilience than traditional advocacy groups because the notion of personal resilience has been designed into transition from the outset: feeling part of a positive and constructive process, working with others, seeing the results of a project completed, and having the support of others when you need it. When we talk about resilient communities it is important that we realize that we are not just talking about solar panels and growing vegetables.
Of course you can’t help others become more resilient until you have learned how to be so yourself. How exactly to we go about restoring and improving this important quality? Everyone is different and has varying life experiences and personalities. Here are some of the things we find help us to build our personal resilience:
- Make connections with positive groups of people. Focus on our similarities with others rather than our differences. Encourage people to explore possibilities and value their talents and opinions.
- Set realistic goals and take regular small steps towards achieving them. Develop a positive view of ourselves, our talents and abilities.
- Get out and do something!
- Trust our own judgment and intuition. Make decisions consciously and reflect on our motives first. Then take responsibility for our successes as well as our mistakes.
- Remain hopeful and optimistic. Visualize our goals rather than worrying about what might happen. Have a positive long term outlook while living one day at a time.
- Accept that change is a part of life. Many things are beyond our control but we can change how we interpret and react to them.
- Avoid seeing crisis as an insurmountable problem. Not everything is as big a deal as it’s made out to be. Watch the stories we tell ourselves about things.
- Seek help from others if needed. Know when you are out of control and learn how to let go.
- Look after your health and acknowledge your need for relaxation and peace. Look for opportunities for self-discovery and education. Join a support group, attend a church, or take a course.