Rewiring for Resilience

What makes people resilient?

According to Psychology Today, three levers can fuel our levels of resilience: optimism, regulation of emotions and a growth mindset. Let’s take a look at each of them in more detail.

  1. A positive attitude blunts the effects of stress on the body. It also preserves access to cognitive resources. This is part of the reason that optimistic people more resilient in the face of adversity – they’re seeing the upshot of any situation. Try raising your filters for what is going right or well to gradually build your resilience.

  2. Regulating emotions.
    Resilient people sharpen and refine their reaction to situations, especially those outside of their control. Accept what you cannot change and focus on what you can – this releases us from dwelling on events that drain our energy for more positive action. 

  3. A growth mindset.
    If you approach life as a test ground where failing offers insight, if you believe character, intelligence and creativity can be stretched and enhanced, you operate with a growth mindset. This ‘can do’ approach is synonymous with a love of learning. The advantage is that lots of trial and error paves the way for greater accomplishment.

Carol Dweck, Stanford psychologist and author of the seminal work Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, describes a growth mindset as ‘winsome’. Human qualities like intelligence and creativity, and even relational capacities like love and friendship, can be cultivated through effort and deliberate practice. Her research found that a growth mindset creates a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval. Seek less approval, and more opportunity for growth.

What we believe about our abilities and potential can fuel our behaviour and predict our success. 

We can start to use the words ‘not yet’, in place of ‘cannot’, and praise hard work over talent or the notion of inherent skill. We can also work towards thinking of the brain ‘in training’, rather than as fixed capacity tool. Set a new goal for every goal that you accomplish, and get used to celebrating your growth with others. Lastly, when (not if) you fail, ask yourself:  What did I learn? What can I do differently in future?

It is possible to slowly rewire our cognitive habits so that they deliver outcomes that are beyond resilient, to fruitful and nourishing. Where will we start?

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