How to be Resilient

Pi Phis across North America recently joined Illinois Eta Ashley Karth and Erin Fischer, CEO of The Leadership and Training Studio, for a discussion on resiliency during these unique times. Watch our May 20 Ring Ching Chat here or read through the Q&As below.

Q: What is resilience, and what does it provide?

A: Women who are resilient:

  • Maintain perspective
    • They’re able to differentiate between the short term and the long term and identify the challenges they can manage.
  • Develop practices to process their thoughts and feelings
    • They name their thoughts and feelings regularly, allowing them to pass through the emotion faster.  
  • Have the ability to adapt to pressure, stress and adversity.

At its core, resiliency is the ability to bounce back when things don’t go according to plan. When you’re resilient, you know deep down that you have the ability to overcome the adversity.

Q: We know that resilience is an emotional muscle, how can you strengthen it?

A: Experience breeds resiliency. The ability to bounce back comes from the experience of practicing something over and over again.

Knowledge and self-awareness also help to build that resiliency muscle. When we have knowledge and self-awareness, we know that everybody is experiencing challenges at different intensities. We understand that we’re not an exception to the rule. Most likely, all of us will face a challenge. And, when we have that self-awareness, it’s easier to accept when things don’t go according to plan.

But sometimes, the best way to strengthen that emotional muscle is by training yourself. When things don’t go according to plan, I have trained myself to take five to seven seconds to pick the reaction I want to have.

Q: Every single person is making shifts right now. How can we incorporate resiliency in these changes?

A: You always hear people say, “I can’t believe this is happening to me!” I think for the most part we all experience major life challenges: losing a job, losing a loved one, breaking up in a relationship, or not having the financial means to do what we need to do. People who are resilient don’t ask the question, “Why is this happening to me?” they ask, “What am I going to do to get to the other side?”

Q: It takes guts to get back up time and time again, especially in these uncertain times. How do we find or build the effort to do so?

A: One of things I’ll share that can be helpful is differentiating between pressure and stress. We all have daily pressure in our checklists of things to do. Everybody has that checklist, but we add stress when we add negative emotion to our list. When you feel anxiety, worry or concern and you attach it to your checklist, you start to get into trouble.

We look at the past and we ruminate over everything that didn’t go to plan. That rumination causes future events to be ruined by emotions. Instead of looking forward to something, you may get nervous or worried and start to overthink.

When you’re self-aware and you understand what your brain is doing, you can make a conscious choice. Instead of ruminating, you may decide to reflect or make a list of ways to improve.

The second thing I’ll share with you is being able to process through your emotions. I was trying to process something recently, and I made a movie in my mind about an experience that didn’t exist. It was all generated by my fear instead of asking myself one or two questions about how I was feeling. The movie I had made in my mind wasn’t true at all.

Q: It’s clear that positivity is an important part of practicing resiliency. What do you do and what tips can you share to maintain positivity?

A: I think the answer is supposed to be that I do yoga, meditate, bake or walk the neighbor’s dog. But, none of that is true for me. I’m the complete opposite. When I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed, I have to do one of three things:

  1. I vacuum.
  2. I get in my car, turn the music up as loud as I can and go for a drive.
  3. I hike outdoors.

Some people want to be Zen, I’m not that woman. I like to crank it up a little bit.

My recommendation is that people find one to three things that light up their world and put them someplace they see regularly.

Published May 20, 2020