When we learn how to be resilient, we learn how to embrace the beautifully board spectrum of the human experience – Jaeda DeWalt
The COVID 19 pandemic is creating prolonged upheaval throwing us into a world of chaos – because life as it was, is rapidly changing and obtusely strange. This rupture begets a feeling of relentless uncertainty, ‘throwing our plans to the wind’ ‘and triggering extreme modifications to our daily routines. These occurrences are deeply unsettling even for the most level-headed amongst us. It is sending us a clear message – ‘the nimble will inherit the earth’, because there has never been a more important time for organisations and their people to be adaptable.
Atop this messy-ness there are increasingly distressing macro conditions influencing a further rise in adverse economic, social, health, employment, and personal security circumstances. Community statistics are forecasting deep levels of fear as the risks of physical disease and its traumatic impact adversely affect our health and wellbeing. With amassed anxiety on the rise at a time when psychological stress and mental ill-health are already at alarming levels in our community, there is an urgent need for self-care so that we positively impact our longer-term ability to cope effectively and adjust.
We need to be resilient to survive these challenging times! How can we learn these skills?
When do we recognise the signs?
The moment we openly acknowledge that there is:
- An increased downward spiralling on the mental health continuum leading to fatigue.
- Concerning levels of diminished thriving and flourishing in all aspects of our lives.
- A strong pull to becoming part of ‘emotional contagion and injury’ i.e. ‘group think’, which begins to permeate our space and invite in anger, ambiguity, and resentment showing signs of disillusionment.
- Difficulty managing and regulating unhelpful thoughts / feelings exhibiting loss of productivity and a drop in our ability to focus, resulting in overall suboptimal functioning.
- Too few resources to do what is required / expected and therefore an increasing potential for burnout.
How does this make us feel?
The moment we are consciously concerned and fearful is when:
- Stress levels become elevated and grow out of proportion due to worrying about financial worries, job insecurity / loss.
- Stronger feelings of increased disillusionment with leaders, managers, organisational practices lead to a sense of being unsupported.
- There is a lessoned sense of being heard that may result in limited opportunities to participate in decision making, and lead to diminished confidence in self and the ability to have impact.
- We are absorbed with our own woes and become less perceptive or caring about others’ needs.
- We are filled with increased shame and guilt at feeling anything positive, pleasurable, or joyous, and are experiencing ‘emotional dysregulation’ – i.e. being over or under controlled in the way we express our emotions.
- We are aware of increased use of ‘maladaptive coping strategies’, over / under eating, worsening of chronic health problems, binge watching multiple news feeds, social media etc.
What is this telling us?
That this is the time to stop, reflect and learn, by turning negative energy and thoughts into purposeful meaning, creative intentions, and positive outcomes…. Examples may include:
- In the absence of a clear / certain future encourage your people to focus on small achievable goals, moving forward ‘one day at a time’, and focusing on what needs to be done in the short-term.
- As leaders we need to think more carefully about what we say and how we deliver our messages, to provide more clarity and direction.
- As managers we may decide to be more proactive about inviting and welcoming feedback and exhibit an explicit willingness to listen.
- As self we may take action to care for our health and wellbeing by including regular physical exercise into our lives as we build our emotional vocabulary, feelings, and capabilities.
- Learning from the actions of others, encourage a sense of perspective, and encourage a mindset of hope.
- Acknowledging this disruption by accepting the losses, researching the opportunities, and continuing to discover the possibilities and ‘silver linings.’
What could happen now?
In a COVID world the opportunity is here to reimagine a future that feels congruent and aligned from our personal, collective, and universal perspective. Rising from the ‘pandemic fog’ will require each of us to engage as the co-curators of a new shared vision. For most of us this is will be life-changing work. It requires a dedicated commitment to reinventing our intentions, learning new skills, researching, and accessing innovative ideas and ways of thinking and having the courage to boldly move to a more reverent place.
To do this well we need to plug into our deep, inner wells of resilience and equanimity. Research shows that highly resilient people respond in the main to challenges through the lens of sense making. By exhibiting passion, showing optimism, and unveiling tenacity we can craft our future journeys and align then with our purpose.
It is not until we subconsciously access our endless supplies of wisdom, reasoning, and other perceptive resources that we can seriously supplement our resilience know-how. It takes high levels of commitment and discipline to exercise our resilience muscles in masterful ways. It also demands a counterbalance of energy – emotional equanimity. This state of being exudes poise, self-control, and evenness, and when supported by a good dose of level-headedness brings to the fore just the right amount of ‘yin and yang’ to maintain a state of judicious composure.
Why do we need to develop our resilience skills and equanimity qualities?
It is to suggest that an ‘inside out’ mindset may help us to access both the consciousness and unconscious states and discover how inherent emotional qualities can work with our wisdom and inner powers to ….to come back and rise up again!
Equanimity is the powerhouse of our spiritual awareness and emotional toughness. It takes more than courage to be resilient. We can only begin to appreciate the undisputable impact of how the domains of resilience and the mysterious emotions of equanimity manifest a breakthrough experience, energetically and effortlessly moving us to that place where ‘we don’t know what we don’t know yet’!
Resilient practitioners live by their mantra to Lead Well, Live Well and Work Well.
Helen Woods and Tim Dyke, Leading Well