3 scientific methods to build mental resilience
According to therapist Dr. Michael Ungar - resilience is as much to do with external factors - as what you have going on inside.
Of course, brainthusiasts that you are - I know you’re diligently using mantras, meditations and personal development podcasts and books to build yourselves an arsenal of tools to deal with every situation. And, don’t get me wrong - that is essential. But - what if that’s all you had?
Ungar’s argument suggests that in order to cultivate resilience, you also need to build the “capacity to navigate towards the resources (you) need to cope in difficult situations, as well as negotiate to get these resources in a way that makes sense to (you)”. The key part there? Resources.
Resilience is something to build around yourself, as well as within yourself. A sense of optimism that is spurred on by the people around you.
A lot of studies talk about Cinderella to give this context. But tbh, I’m just not that into Disney. So I’m going to use Die Hard instead - the millennial’s fairytale, if you will.
No-one would ever suggest that John McClane was not singularly skilled at handling a tricky situation. But the resilience he displayed at Nakatomi Plaza wouldn’t have been anywhere near as successful, without the support of Argyle and Sgt Al Powell.
According to Ungar, McClane wasn’t “rugged”, he was “resourced”. Less sexy, maybe - but hey, ho.
Three steps for building resilience
Here’s some insights to help you build up your resilience arsenal - inside and out.
1. It’s easier to change the world around you than to change yourself
Seriously. All the yoga and mantras in the world aren’t going to help if you’re miserable at your work. So, change something. Where you sit? Your hours? Your job? Find an environment that brings out the best in you.
2. Find the right resource for your needs
One close friend isn’t going to cut it for everything life throws at you. You need a combo. Think about what would actually help. A financial advisor? Education? A coach? Step back from the situation and tailor your support system.
3. Don’t blame yourself
Whatever hot water you may end up in, cultivating a mindset where you don’t blame yourself for every situation is important. As Ungar says, “Beware of interventions that make you feel like if you fail to make the change, it’s somehow your fault. Make sure the responsibility is shared.”