resilient brain

Why resilience has become a hot topic?

Over the past few years, we have been talking more and more about resilience and resilience in the workplace.

The pandemic has exacerbatedemotional reactions that have led to mental health issues, consequent burnout, demotivation, disengagement, absenteeism, etc.…

In order to counteract the effects of such emotional reactions, we need to understand what resilience is and what kind of support if any we must offer to our employees to overcome challenging times. Those who know me know that I am an advocate of creating awareness starting from the individual, before thinking of the team since nothing can be changed if it is not acknowledged.

But let’s see what resilience is.

What is resilience

#Resilience is the ability to rebound or bounce back rapidly from adversity, trauma, or hardship to “go back on track.” We are not talking about “healing” from trauma, but rather having the ability to get back on track to what we would refer to as our “normality” or “healthy functioning.” Whatever hardship, trauma, or adversity you have experienced it will stay with you, in your brain, in your “memory”, nevertheless you can try to live as best as you can even with those memories. The memories of trauma cannot be forgotten but being resilient will allow us to live with the memories without being a slave to them and we can be focused on our present and our future.

Conversely, when a victim of trauma remains stuck in a state of shock it is like the brain stops processing information and even neuroimaging has shown this. The area of the brain remains grey, therefore, the brain itself becomes disconnected affecting our behavior and our ability to function well.

Can we develop resilience or are we born with it?

Here’s the good news:

Resilience is a skill we can ALL develop.

Personality traits and genetic factors will influence our response to trauma, therefore our ability to be resilient. Today we know that resilience is a skill we CAN develop, and it is a dynamic strength that changes over time.

The father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, has created a model to develop resilience. The 3Ps Model.

We all have an emotional reaction to challenging life events. Seligman refers to 3 emotional reactions:

1-Personalization– when we blame ourselves for whatever happened that we had to endure, and it hinders our ability to get back on track or “bounce back”.

2-Pervasiveness– when we react with the conviction that whatever happened has and will have a negative impact and will be detrimental to every aspect of our life.  On the contrary, the assumption that realistically any failure will not affect every aspect or compartment of our lives will help us to get back on our feet sooner.

3-Permanence– when we assume that whatever happened and its consequences will be forever. Thinking instead that everything is transient even the effect of the experience will help us to move on from “paralysis” that makes us feel nothing short of hopeless.

Can we build a resilient workplace?

Yes, we can. Creating a psychologically safe environment is fundamental. Challenging times, trauma, and hardship cause emotional reactions which leave an imprint in a person’s memory. To overcome and go beyond that experience we need to feel that we have support, and this is important because a person’s perception of the experience is believed, respected, and not judged, but merely listened to. Remember: Nothing is more real than one’s perception, not even a fact.

If my narrative is judged, not believed, or considered to be exaggerated, then not only do I not speak up, but I dwell on those emotions making me unable to “bounce back.”

How to build a resilient workplace

Creating a resilient workplace is possible by:

  • Creating awareness by providing personal development
  • Offering related training
  • Keeping in mind employee well being
  • Promoting work-life balance
  • Leading by modeling a resilience-building behavior
  • Being vulnerable knowing that vulnerability is a virtue and not a weakness

Let me know where you start and if we can help!