There is a lot out there at the moment about the philosophy and practice of resilience, and how to build mental toughness in your world. Firstly, how is it that so many young people are growing up without a strong sense of resilience? I have some theories, as I am sure you do, and they’re not new by any means. Here’s three of them:
We praise results, instead of effort: With this focus, we are creating a culture where winning and getting results is what is rewarded. This in turn minimizes the role of effort in the journey of life, learning and growth. It fuels the fear of not being good enough, because culture says you are only good enough if you win, or get certain results. This in turn leads to a culture that doesn’t give permission to get it wrong or “fail”.
Failure Phobia: This fear of failure means that people are reluctant to try, or put effort into something they don’t feel confident they can get right. It distracts genuine learning, and the truth that all greatness involves lessons learnt through failure, mistakes and stuff ups. Young people are therefore scared of failing, because they don’t have the permission. We then feel we need to protect our kids from the valuable lessons and character building that come through failure, like resilience. There really is no such thing as failure, only feedback that can help us grow, develop and become more successful, and that’s the next issue.
Fighting Feedback: Feedback and constructive criticism have become dirty words, and things we generally avoid in our culture. Instead of seeking feedback, we avoid it. This isn’t helpful to anyone who truly wants to grow and become the best they can be. Our feelings have become so fragile, that it’s like we are constantly walking on eggshells. Healthy and challenging feedback is critical to building resilience in all of us. Invite feedback, seek it out and learn all you can from it.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. We have to learn to laugh at ourselves, learn to be comfortable with being wrong and not getting our own way.
Embrace setbacks. Of course we don’t want trials, setbacks or suffering, the storms of life, but the reality is that these are the very things that strengthen us, build resilience and create depth of character. We try and protect our kids, and ourselves, from these things, and rescue them continually, but in doing so they don’t learn that part of life is learning how to walk through and deal with setbacks, challenges and even suffering.
Choose the people you allow into your world carefully. Some people in our lives are toxic, negative and draining. These people need to be removed because they wear us down, demand for us and sap our emotional energy. You can’t build resilience without investing into your own emotional well being.
Be curious and aware of who you are. Developing a deep awareness around what motivates you, drives you and what creates fear is critical in developing resilience. This takes courage to really get to know yourself and rumble with what your learn and discover as you go. You can’t change what you’re not aware of, so self awareness is key.
These are a few of my reflections and I trust are a helpful and thought provoking. Have a brilliant day, Bretta