Practising Transformative Resilience
Updated: Sep 23
I recently read an interesting article introducing Transformative Resilience as the “catalyst to enable personal growth through tough times”: Developing This Type of Resilience Can Help You Achieve Major Personal Growth;
The article refers to a book by Ama Marston and Stephanie Marston, who introduce ‘Transformative Resilience’ as “the ability to take life’s challenges... and use them as inspiration to grow" whereas they describe traditional resilience as being about “grit and perseverance”.
They include great advice, but I believe that someone with strong resilience skills, whether inherited or learned, will always be transforming (in that they are able to cope with adversity and grow from their challenges).
In the book "The Resilience Factor; 7 keys to finding your inner strength and overcoming life's hurdles", Karen Reivich Ph. D (co-director of the Penn University Resilience program) and Andrew Shatté Ph. D (exec Director of the Pheonix Life academy - an organisation focussed on resilience research), outline 7 key skills of resilience that start with self awareness and then drive change.
In their book, Karen and Andrew highlight the importance of an optimistic thinking style to believe we can change (and control our response to adversity with increased resilience) and self awareness to know where and how best to do it. The book includes detailed tools for how to better understand the link between our thoughts, beliefs, emotions and resulting behaviours as well as, (importantly), the strategies we can practise to help us change and grow once we identify patterns that no longer serve us.
Our challenge is prioritising the time to find out which strategies work for us and then find the time to practice.
Sadly, many of us are stuck in firefighting mode, struggling to juggle life's demands and not really understanding what builds our resilience or how to recover from stress fully. But the beauty is, we can all try new strategies, learn new behaviours (ways of responding) and get better at it.
Here are my take of the 3 qualities for transformative resilience described in the article from Shape:
Take a new view: You can choose how you respond to a situation; Some view the world through a rose tinted hue, others are more pessimistic. By understanding your natural response, you can reframe it: “turning 'why me' into 'what can I learn from this?'”. It's often easier said than done, so if you’re struggling, speak to a friend, ask for help, or... of course, get a coach. We’re trained to see past your words, explore perspectives and help you reframe. You may not be lucky enough to consider ice skating, or hiking to get over a cancelled holiday, but perhaps there are canal walks or quiet back streets you can explore? Look for that silver lining. What would your favourite aunt/teacher/mentor say?
Practice emotional hygiene: Allow yourself time to process, share with friends and family if you need to but don’t let negative thoughts overwhelm you. Learn how to switch off and recharge. Maintain a healthy social network and set clear boundaries in order to control how much time you spend thinking about it. DON'T ruminate; Be clear on what’s in your control and be ready to let go of what isn’t.
Move forward: Adapt, learn, progress. Continually. “Bouncing back” suggests we can come back to the same place, but as the world continues to change so do we, particularly as we move past difficulty. Consider what works for you and what doesn’t. Switch up your routine. There is mounting evidence to show that continual learning and the development of new neurological pathways actually helps you stay young.
Overall, as soon as your normal coping mechanisms stop working for you, take some time out, re-group and if you can’t see a way forward; get help from friends, family or professionals. We’ve got your back x