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Are There Cons to Being Resilient?

Due, in part, to massive advances in technology, the pace of change is accelerating and people are under more stress than ever in history. According to statistics from the American Psychological Association, 69% of employees report that work is a significant source of stress and 51% of employees say they are less productive due to stress. For example, they have difficulty focusing on tasks, they make more errors, or miss deadlines. To manage the demands of modern life, resiliency is absolutely essential. The benefits of resiliency are undeniable. A positive and adaptive mindset leads to greater success both at work and at home – it is linked to improved job performance, work engagement, work-life-balance, health, and overall happiness.

So are there any cons to being resilient?

A recent article, “Missteps in Resiliency (And Why They Might Be Good for You)” discusses the possible downsides of resiliency. The author brings up a great point, in that “often we try the same mechanisms to stay resilient, even if the situation calls for a different approach.”

The author goes on to write, “It was an aha moment when I realized that sometimes the downside of our tried-and-true resilient behavior is that we get less creative and utilize the same channels to bounce back. And once in awhile the ‘pro’ of being less resilient is it opens up doors to new recovery mechanisms, maybe ones that are better than what we are used to.”

While I do not disagree with the claims made in this article, this belief of resiliency depends on how “resiliency” is defined. TRACOM’s Adaptive Mindset for Resiliency Model defines resiliency not just as bouncing back in times of adversity, but bouncing forward. This means finding opportunities in challenges and using creative problem-solving to move forward. In other words, one of the essential components of resiliency is the ability to generate innovative, flexible solutions. In our training program, we explicitly address the issues of habitual thought processes and behaviors. Those who are resilient challenge themselves to alter their current habits and ways of behaving and thinking. Thanks to research in neuroplasticity we know that we can re-wire our brains and change our patterns of thought. Our training program lays out six strategies for enhancing resiliency, which address these exact issues. Here are two of these strategies:

1. Challenge automatic thinking – Use the CAB (Challenge – Automatic Thinking – Behavior & Emotion)/CAR (Challenge – Active Thinking – Realistic Response) Technique. This technique refers to our automatic thoughts vs. our active thoughts in response to challenges. Due to our evolutionary history, when threatening situations arise, our brain produces automatic thoughts that are negative and self-limiting. By slowing our thought patterns down and taking a deep breath, we can trigger the rational part of our brain – the prefrontal cortex- and generate more logical and innovative solutions.

2. Practice mindfulness – Mindfulness is defined as a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. This involves monitoring when we are only paying partial attention, breathing properly, and substituting a new routine every now and then. By practicing mindfulness, we can transform our negative internal experiences and cultivate a new, much more positive brain state. One direct way to practice mindfulness is through meditating.

The Adaptive Mindset Model is comprised of the nine most meaningful and important elements of resiliency.

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