Long-term Resilience

I've written separately about how to identify your resilient resources. There's another important step on the read to managing your Wellbeing. That is anchoring yourself in your Resilient Resources.

Resilience isn't just about identifying your Resilient Resource.  It's about anchoring yourself in them.  Permanently. Keeping them with you at all times. Let me illustrate the point by mentioning a wonderful client of mine.

This particular client made a wonderful job of identifying her resilient conditions - through coaching, self-reflection, observation and maintaining a diary of good days and bad days, she was ultimately able to identify a really detailed list of the things that helped keep her healthy.

And, importantly, this wasn't just the big stuff - the big and obvious 'triggers'.  I find that the real importance across many of my clients is to also identify the micro-things that impact resilience. This might be things like background noise, lighting, temperature, taking regular short breaks, reading a book once or twice a day, going for a walk, eating regularly and so on.  This is on top of the big things that impact our resilience.

As I say, this particular client made a wonderful job of identifying her resilient conditions. And then she went to stay with family. And in this time away she kindly fitted in with their routine; doing things with them and for them in a very caring and giving way.  But, at the end of this period away, and even though she was away from the workplace (one of her bigger 'main' triggers) she ended up in a worse and more challenging state of mental health.

The reason for this?  Well, in her kindness and generosity, she had sacrificed her resilient conditions. She had put them to one side to fall in with the routine of the family.  This was a lovely act of selflessness; but not good for the self.

And this points to the lesson. Which is that identifying your resilient conditions isn't enough.  You need to anchor yourself in them and keep the with you at all times.

Let me illustrate this anchoring through another story.

Some time ago I had a rainy day with my two young children, Charlie & Oliver.  So we decided to stay indoors and make some papier-mache characters.  That's something I remembered doing in my childhood and hadn't done since. It was an exciting first for Charlie and Oliver.

Part-way through, I asked Oliver who he was making.  He said "Stuart". I said "Who's Stuart?", genuinely intrigued in a name that hadn't come up before.  And, with a look of disappointment at my general ignorance of all-things central to Oliver's world, he said: "Stuart, from The Minions".

So I turned to Charlie and asked who he was making.  He said "Tom".  And, in an attempt to be a slightly more confident, knowledgeable Dad, I enthusiastically said: "Tom . . . from the Minions!?".  And Charlie, exhibiting even more disappointment than Oliver, said with exasperation: "No.  Tom.  From my imagination"!

And while we were making Stuart and Tom, I realised that this venture could illustrate precisely the point I would like to make here about long-term resilience.  So I made a character of my own.

Humpty Dumpty has been around for over 600 years now. Ever since the nursery rhyme was first written down.  Judging by the number of times he has irreparably fallen off that wall, he has to be the least resilient guy in history.  And I use him to illustrate the meaning of long-term resilience.

Humpty Dumpty personifies the meaning of fragile, rather than resilient.  And this one is made out of balloon, paper, glue and a dab of paint.  And by its very shape it is utterly unstable, and far from resilient.  So, how on earth does this demonstrate resilience, let along long-term resilience.

Well it is because - if you anchor him in his resilient conditions, even Humpty Dumpty can remain grounded and regain composure in the face of set-backs.

In my speech, "The Mentally Healthy Conversation" I have a short video clip of Charlie and Oliver generally shoving and pushing Humpty Dumpty around.  And of course he topples and falls.