Wikipedia defines psychological resilience as an individual’s ability to successfully adapt to life tasks in the face of social disadvantage or highly adverse conditions. The Oxford dictionary defines resilience itself as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.
How resilient therefore are you?
I have been graced these last couple of weeks with the tremendous privilege of assisting and supporting some very resilient people during their quest to find employment. I would love nothing more than to share their personal challenges with you as proof of both their individual and group resiliency, but to do so might be well-intended but harmful and a breach of confidentiality, so I will not. Suffice to say, you would I believe, like me, be impressed with them.
So here’s a question for you: How often do you get a chance to just work on one need in your life without having others distract you and need your attention?
Take job searching as an example. When looking for work, wouldn’t it be nice to only have looking for a new position as what’s on your mind? Amen to that! However, add to your job search what’s really going on in the real world. Bills are piling up, student debt repayment has you in the red, you’re more irritable with people (so unlike you), your budget for the little things in life you found so pleasurable has been self-curtailed. You’ve got housing issues with landlords threatening eviction, people feel sorry for you but at the same time don’t do much to help except go back and forth between saying, “You poor thing!” and “Can’t you get a job?” So unhelpful really.
Your ego is fragile; the degree to which is linked to how far in your mind you’ve fallen. You’ve had it in the past; the reputation and status, the good paying job, the cars, the house with the garden house and 4 door garage. Now you’re unemployed, raising a family of 4 or 5, and being looked to by them to provide. Your self-doubts, insecurities, personal worries; these you feel you have to suppress and lock away or deal with in isolation because you figure you’re the only one in the family who has the strength to handle them.
How am I doing? Sound familiar? Maybe not exactly your situation but am I close? If not you, does this sound like someone you may know? If not, count yourself most fortunate indeed!
There are a lot of very highly educated people who have held prestigious jobs who are now in receipt of social assistance; who find themselves unemployed. What I find amazing and truly remarkable is the upbeat attitude many have. It’s true! They have an unwavering belief that they will ultimately be successful and what’s more they haven’t let their present circumstances detract from their innate goodness; they are still positive, cheerful, optimistic and above all else…grateful for everything they do receive.
Grateful for everything they do receive; every piece of advice, support and guidance, suggestions and feedback, ideas and referrals – grateful. There’s no poor attitude, no one demands help and says, “You owe it to me – it’s your job so just do it and don’t expect any special thanks.” No, not one person is remotely holding this attitude of entitlement.
In the face of true adversity; they have not let their present circumstances feed and grow bitterness, resentment, coldness or anger. Now, to be sure they are under all kinds of stress and they would be lying to say they don’t have their moments when they feel, “Why me?” Yet, it’s what one does with these feelings that defines them.
They have done – and continue to do – one thing that I implore you to consider doing as well when you find yourself overwhelmed and susceptible to the dark places. While acknowledging your present circumstances, carry yourself as best your able; continue to help yourself. Each of the people I’m working with at the present was identified by a colleague of mine as someone who is committed to their own success, is open to feedback, receptive to change and above all has the right attitude.
As one person said to me, “Why let myself miss opportunities because I appear negative? All I’ll end up doing is surround myself with negative people if I do.”
Adapting and recovering are two key words if you picked them out from the opening definitions at the top of this article. Survivors adapt and recover. I have to tell you that all the while I am providing these job seekers with tips, suggestions, aid, support etc., they in turn are mentoring me – if I’m wise enough to recognize the moments of learning before me. Sometimes I miss those moments but I catch enough of them to realize they are before me. I’m fortunate you see to stand in front of them in a classroom but still stand there as a student myself, receptive to receiving what they share.
Should you – yes you – be unemployed and dealing with your own mounting issues that have you wondering just how many more things you can handle, I bow to your resiliency. Take that label and wear it like a badge of honour. When job interviewers say, “Tell me about yourself”, count yourself as resilient. You’ll bounce back and get past these adverse life conditions that while present, won’t hold you down forever.