What is resilience? Is it about grit, determination and doggedness? Is it about relentlessly ploughing on through life?
If you define resilience like this then you probably see life as a struggle. It’s something you have to fight your way through. It is a ‘sink or swim’ experience.
This means there are resilience muscles that need to be honed and strengthened. However, there is another way and this is how we develop our inner resilience
The simplicity of inner resilience
Inner resilience is much simpler. It’s a calm, simple and grounded way of experiencing life. The good news is that we all have inner resilience, we don’t need to learn it or find it elsewhere. Our inner resilience is always present it is just waiting to be noticed. The best way to get in touch with this inner resilience is to to look within.
Imagine that you are in a room with loud music playing. You are desperate to experience silence. You start looking at different ways of ‘cancelling’ out this music. You buy ear-plugs and headphones. You put your hands over your ears.
You start to play different louder music to try and distract you. You hum to yourself, you place cushions over the speakers. You are desperately trying to stop hearing the music.
This is a bit like us trying to be resilient. We look for different ways of battling through life, looking for tools and techniques to build up our resilience.
Inner resilience is not about a battle
There is a real sense of relief when we realise that actually we’re doing all the wrong things. There is an easy way to experience silence. We don’t need to battle with the music, all we need to do is switch the music off. Silence is always present, we just need to switch off the busyness of our minds to experience it.
It’s the same with resilience. We spend so much of our time fighting our way through life we feel exhausted. Our inner reserves seem low and we look outside of our selves to top up our resilience ‘battery’.
The irony is that we have a reserve of inner resilience that is always present and it never runs out. Our inner resilience is more like a water well than a battery. The water in the well replenishes itself we don’t have to do anything for that to happen.
Resilience and negative thinking
The constant barrage of negative thoughts is the usual reason that we feel tired and stressed. We invest a lot of time and energy in ‘feeding’ the negative thoughts and negative energy that batters our lives.
One of the first steps to get in touch with our inner resilience is to first start to notice the myriad of negative thoughts and feelings. Often we are so engrossed in them that we don’t actually realise they are there. Once we start to notice we are then able to choose to not engage with these thoughts. Our thoughts will fade away if we don’t fuel them.
How the fire triangle relates to inner resilience
It’s useful to remember the three components needed for fire. A fire needs fuel, oxygen and heat. If you want to put out a fire then remove one of those and it will go out. It’s the same with our thoughts. If we realise that we are often (innocently) fanning the flames of our negative thinking, then that is a great first step.
The next step is to starve the thought of oxygen. In this case the oxygen is the energy we put in to negative thinking to keep it alive.
We don’t have a choice about the thinking that rushes through our heads. We have thousands of thoughts a day that scurry through. Our role is not to try to change our thinking or fight our thinking. That is an exhausting and never-ending losing battle.
Our choice is much simpler, we just need to notice how much fuel we throw on our thoughts. We can bring them alive in full technicolour, or we can place our attention elsewhere and stop stoking them up.
Inner resilience and the Three Principles
The Three Principles understand is an integral part of helping me navigate my way through life. They give me an explanation of how life works. With that explanation life ceases to feel so feel so frightening or bewildering. You can find out more about the Three Principles in this article What are the Three Principles?
When we start to sense that our inner resilience is inside us just waiting for us to notice, then it makes life a lot more simple.
About Liz Scott
Liz Scott is a Coaching Skills trainer and 3P practitioner. She helps develop coaching cultures within schools and organisations. Liz uses her understanding of the 3Ps within her training and is experiencing great success and results in the organisations she is working in. You can download an introduction to the Three Principles here. Find out more about Liz at Liz Scott Coaching and Training