Resilience 2020-10-11T21:45:42+00:00

Scientific lessons to improve your resilience

learn actionable and science backed techniques that help you build up and improve your resilience

There are some individuals who are able to “bounce back” from negative stressors effectively while others have a hard time keeping their head above water. Bouncing back from failure isn’t an inborn trait or a matter of luck. It’s a sign that someone has resilience – a trained psychological skillset. This is what this module is all about.

Resilience comes from the word used to describe elasticity in metals. Cast iron is a metal that is known to be very hard and brittle, meaning it breaks easily (not resilient), whereas wrought iron is more soft, malleable and can bend to a certain degree without breaking (resilient). This metaphor can be used to describe psychological resilience which refers to an ability to adapt and effectively cope when faced with loss, hardship, and personal failure.

Having a resilient mind not only keeps you on track, but it’s also responsible for keeping you strong when things go awry. Those who have developed resilience don’t dwell on failures; they learn from their mistakes, work to understand the situation, and move on.

From this, we’ve come to understand that there are three main elements of resilience. Developing these will be a key focus throughout this module:

  1. Challenge – Those who have a resilient mind view difficulty as a challenge, not as something out of their control. They look at their mistakes and failures as opportunities for growth and look for the lessons within. Finally, they don’t view failure (no matter how often it occurs) as a reflection of their capabilities.
  2. Commitment – Those with resilient minds are committed to their goals and start each morning with an intention for reaching those goals regardless of the outcomes.
  3. Personal control – Resilient people tend to spend their energy on situations and events they can control. Putting their efforts into areas where they have the most impact makes them feel empowered and confident. Those who spend their time worrying about things they can’t control are often left feeling powerless and helpless, leading them down a path of non-resilience and stress.

The lessons in this module have been hand-selected and curated in order to train your brain to become more resilient. We will give you a number of different tools. These include both quick fixes (which can be used in the moment of a failure or shortly after) and micro habits (which can be used as a proactive way to deal with future failures). These exercises are primarily set for you to bounce back quicker from failure and to become less fazed by stressful situations.

As always, our team at PsychologyCompass has gone through over 100 papers and decades of research in developmental psychology, clinical psychology, neuropsychology, neuroscience, clinical science and biochemical science to ensure you can be confident in the exercises we offer.

What is resilience?

As mentioned earlier, psychological resilience has been categorized as the ability to bounce back effectively from stressful or negative situations and by adapting to the changing demands around you. Resilience is a frame of mind which emcompasses a variety of behavioral, psychological, and physiological components.

Those who are considered to be resilient tend to: have optimistic, energetic approaches to life; be open to new experiences; and have higher tendencies toward positive emotionality. Highly resilient people tend to approach negative situations through the use of positive emotions such as humor and optimism and they utilize effective relaxation techniques at the right times.

As you can see, positive emotionality tends to be an important element of psychological resilience and will therefore be a major theme throughout the module.

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Resilience and the brain

The neurological underpinnings of resilience are complex and dynamic, involving the interplay between many neurological circuits, hormones, neuropeptides, and neurotransmitters. To begin, let’s talk about how responses to failure influences your physiological and psychological reactions in your body.

Typically, when faced with a negative event such as a failure, the common response is to either give up or push through. These responses in themselves can either be adaptive or damaging. The brain is the central organ responsible for the failure response and has a two-way communication between itself, the immune, and cardiovascular systems as part of an integrated feedback loop. If the response is adaptive, your body will undergo homeostasis where it will deal with the event and return back to its normal functioning. If not, the body will undergo physiological and psychological consequences of heightened neurochemical responses (e.g. neuropeptides, hormones and neurotransmitters). If a person experiences repeated chronic exposure to stress/failure/or negatively charged events, the heightened neurochemical response can lead to serious conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder. At the level of business performance, you might fall into a pattern of helplessness or begin to believe that you’ll never succeed down the road.

When someone experiences adversity, three areas of the brain get activated: the amygdala (emotional functioning), insula (subjective emotional experience) and anterior cingulate cortex (cognition and emotion). What are the differences between high-resilient and low-resilient brains? Curiously, when presented with a stressor, all three areas become active in both high-resilient and low-resilient individuals. The difference arises shortly afterward in the patterns of neural processing. Resilient brains are able to emotionally disengage with the stressor, whereas low-resilient brains take much longer to get over the stressor. In other words, highly resilient people are able to neutralize their emotional response following a stressor and are able to recover much quicker than low-resilient people. It’s related to the fact that high-resilient people show reduced activation in the amygdala and insula and heightened activation in the anterior cingulate cortex (8). In other words, resilient people demonstrate less “hot” emotional responding and more “cool” cognitive control.

Let’s get started on training your brain to become more resilient!

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