You first worried about the virus entering the country. Now, that worry has snowballed into the fear of getting infected, alongside the possibilities of getting your pay reduced, or worse still, getting retrenched.
The consequences caused by this global pandemic have proven the situation to be volatile and constantly in flux. It’s not like we don’t already have enough on our plate, with some more than others – but with the amount of curve balls life is throwing us, how can some people bounce back fairly quickly and become emotionally stronger while others struggle to re-enter the game?
It all comes down to emotional resilience – our ability to manage disappointments and setbacks, large or small, from a relationship breakdown, to retrenchment, losing a friend to cancer, battling a health issue, mental health issue, or dealing daily with a wild teen or a difficult boss. When we’re forced to confront major change or loss, it’s this stockpile of inner strength that determines how well we recover and move on.
Fortunately, emotional resilience is a skill that anyone can learn and build on. In fact, practice makes perfect, says Dr Tim Sharp, founder and ‘chief happiness officer’ of The Happiness Institute.
“Most people are unprepared emotionally when a crises hits,” he explains. “But I liken it to a fire drill – if you practise strategies to strengthen your resilience before anything goes wrong, you’re less likely to panic and more likely to make better decisions.”
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What shapes our resilience?
Why are some people naturally more resilient? “There’s little doubt that some people are born a little luckier than others and, as a result, they have certain genes that make resilience and optimism easier for them,” Sharp explains.
“Part of it is also our upbringing: what we saw our parents do when facing bad times, along with what we learnt from other significant people in our lives such as grandparents and teachers.”
Whether you’re 18 or 80, you can still learn to think more optimistically, to keep things in perspective and to ask for help.Dr Tim Sharp, founder of The Happiness Institute
Psychologist, author and bullying expert Evelyn Field agrees that a strong sense of resilience is part nature, part nurture. “Recent American research has found that trauma can be inherited, that it affects our genetic structure,” she explains. “But from the moment we’re born we’re interacting with others. People with a stronger sense of resilience are more likely to have grown up receiving messages of love and support from their parents and other family members.”
In the end, says Sharp, resilience is a combination of what we’re born with, what we learn and, most importantly, what we choose to do. “If you were lucky enough to have had good role models, great,” he says. “But it doesn’t really matter if you didn’t, because whether you’re 18 or 80, you can still learn to think more optimistically, to keep things in perspective and to ask for help – and that’s a pretty significant chunk of resilience.