Become a human being and not a human doing

Last week the NEF team were lucky enough to engage in a workshop about resilience. I actually recall studying resilience as part of a module during my Psychology degree. However, as I have reiterated many times, I can’t remember much from my degree, so a recollection is as far as it goes.

Resilience isn’t something I consciously think of. I’ve never been in, or returned from a situation, and said ‘oh wow I was resilient’. However, I do know that there have been times in my personal and professional life, which i’m pretty sure I have been resilient to. In fact, before this workshop, I would have called myself a resilient person.

So what is resilience? Resilience is a balance of your energies after a challenging time or situation of adversity: mental (your thinking), emotional (your feelings), spiritual (your values and purpose) and physical (your body). All of these energies need to be of sufficient value for resilience to occur, but they aren’t all equally weighted. In learning this, I noticed how much some of my own energies have been compromised. I cannot remember the last time I didn’t wake up tired, the last time I exercised or made an effort to eat healthily, the last time I completely shut off from work, the last time I had energy to socialise, the last time I spent time doing things to lift my spirits. The list is endless. But, what really struck me was the recognition that resilience does not mean ploughing through and getting on with it. If no positive value is coming from your activities, and your energies are being compromised, you may not be being resilient. Sometimes taking time out or saying no, is a better indicator of resilience.

All of us have a wide range of concerns in our lives, however of all those concerns there are some things we can influence and some things we can only stay concerned about. We can choose to focus all our energies on the areas that are outside our influence, or we can be proactive and focus on those that we can change. In spending time within our ‘circle of influence’, our circle of concern deflates, and we can often learn that some of the really challenging things can be influenced too. As one of the speakers in the day noted (Geeta Sidhu-Robb, who I spoke of in my previous post), resilience is a little nudge to remind us of why we are here. When something knocks you down, it’s time to shift your thinking and get back up.

I will end with a powerful quote by Victor Frankl, 1985 [1946]

We, who lived in concentration camps, can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.