It’s a challenging topic.
On the one hand we need to be resilient, grit, determination. We all know that life isn’t perfect, there isn’t always a fairy tale ending and we aren’t in High School musical, so when things go wrong, it’s good to be resilient so that we can cope. You need to be thick skinned is another phrase that gets used especially if people criticise us. Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me, is something I am sure you would have heard. This is all well and good as long as we are feeling resilient. So resilience is like have coping strategies and support mechanisms so we can carry on and deal with the problems. So we don’t want just give up and hide in a ball. We would all like to have the ability to bounce back. Or bouncbackability as invented by ex-player and now ex- manager of Crystal Palace.
However sometimes we feel that we have to be resilient to be good or the be the best, that we can’t admit when we need help. This can sometimes be a mask that we put on to protect ourselves. You want to prove yourself, either to be picked for the team or to be a prefect. In your mind you are telling yourself that surely they are not going to pick the person that worries about what other think ? and to win we have to be strong and not show emotion. One great example of someone who believed this is Serena and Venus Williams father, who famously bussed in people to shout abuse at the girls as they played, in an attempt to try to break their concentration. How is this façade any good for our mental wellbeing. If we are pretending that “ we can cope” when we are in public, surely it will all spill out when at home or on our own. This release of emotion could then overflow, and that can’t be good for us.
To help me explain this I have a bucket. This bucket is me. It represents how I am at the moment. Although a little tired, I am healthy and I have a good support system around me. These balls represent some of my worries. For example, cross country. Now I like running but I do worry a little in the morning that I will make a fool of myself by tripping over or will twist my ankle. This assembly, ok I think that it two or three balls. I do worry and have been for some time about standing up in front of you all and talking. To some people though, this isn’t a worry, they do it every week and could even enjoy it. I am worried about some of my friends. I haven’t got round to doing that project for my family that I promised I would do and I am worried that I am letting them down. Someone said something about what I was wearing and now am worried that I look silly or that they are talking behind my back. I snapped at a colleague earlier on and now I am worried that I have upset them, I didn’t mean to. You get the idea. Everyone has things they are worried about. It could be homework, family, relationships, social media, world politics.
Now say I was feeling a little unwell. I had a cold or had twisted my ankle. Or my support system wasn’t as strong as it normally was. For example, the person that I normally off load onto, was away. Then my bucket could be smaller. I would still have the same worries but I am not in a great place to deal with them at that particular time.
I suppose I could build a temporary support mechanism around it to hold the balls but at some point something is going to spill over. So how do I become resilient and cope? Well one way is to make a hole in the bottom. Or to have a tap. This hole or release could be different for everyone. It could be as simple as asking for help, (as a side, when did asking for help become a sign of weakness). For me a run with my headphones on, normally singing to Beyonce works wonders. It could be listening to music, writing a letter, spending time with friends, having a good cry, spending time on your hobbies, watching a film with popcorn. However talking has to be one of the best examples. Talking may not be able to stop me worrying about tripping over in the cross country run, but it may put my worry into perspective and I would find out that other people are also worried about this, which would make me feel so much better. Talking to someone may not stop my worry about this assembly, but it would make others aware that it is a big deal for me and would support me through it. Talking may not help my friends that I am worried about, but other friends would be worried as well and maybe we could come up with something to show that friend we care. Talking will help me hear the positive messages not just the negative ones which can sometimes shout loudest. So if I was being bullied or someone was saying bad things about me, then talking would make me feel stronger and more confident. Hopefully I would then hear more positive messages. And again I think you get my point.
And with this in mind, if someone is talking to us we have to be aware that their bucket might be a different size at the moment and they may have different balls. We have to show empathy.
So once you have listened and shown empathy what can you do to help your friend or how can you build your own resilience. Well perhaps you could try,
Giving – doing things for others
Relating – connecting with people, not just your one best friend. Perspective is a key point and connecting with people can help you look at things in a different way.
Exercising – taking care of your body
Appreciating – notice things around you, celebrate your achievements and others around you.
Trying out- learn something new, even if you are terrible at it, its fine. None of us are perfect and you never know it might be amazing, and you can have fun trying.
Direction – have something to look forward to, that TV programme that you enjoy watching after you have done all your homework, or that time with a friend. Many of you have holidays to look forward to.
Support- go to your friends or family who can help you find your way to bounce back
Emotion – take a positive approach, if you know of something that is coming up, a change then prepare or discuss the change. Being positive about something can change the way it goes. If you constantly talk about how terrible it will be then you could almost talk yourself into thinking that and then not allow yourself to enjoy things.
And finally acceptance- be comfortable with who you are. Easier said than done, but …………
We aren’t born with resilience and its not something we can buy from a shop, so trying some of these things above may help us develop it or at least if we are feeling fragile help us through this challenging period.