The same event can cause quite different reactions in different people.
We could think that it’s the events – like the global pandemic – that have caused our reactions. In cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), the principle is that it’s not the actual event that has caused our reaction, but our interpretation of the event i.e. it’s our interpretation of the pandemic that causes our reaction and behaviour. Cognitive behavioural coaching (CBC) goes on to suggest that our reactions and behaviours are a function of our environment, thoughts, feelings, and physiology.
And so, if we were to change one — or a combination of — our environment, thoughts, feelings and physiology, we could change our reaction and our behaviour, demonstrating some choice and an element of control over a situation that we previously felt was entirely outside of our control.
This is where resilience comes in. Mawlana Hazar Imam has often spoken of our long-standing traditions of unity, generosity, and mutual support to move to a position of enhanced strength and resilience enabling us as a Jamat to look to the future with hope and courage.
It’s important to come together to build resilience as a community, and just as important to be aware of our own fortitude, and how we might build resilience for ourselves at times of difficulty.
What exactly is resilience?
Resilience is the ability to deal with adversity. It is a process where we appraise, cope, and adapt. And our ability to do this is influenced by what takes place inside us - our thoughts, our emotions, and our physiology.
Our ability to be resilient can enable us to demonstrate more positive reactions and positive behaviour when faced with adversity. The ability to display resilience is also correlated with optimism and is more likely to lead us to success.
And the fortunate thing is: resilience is a skill. Some of us may be naturally more resilient than others, but everyone has the capacity to build resilience and learn how to develop the capability.
How can I build resilience?
Resilience can be broken down into a process of three steps:
- The trigger situation or event - the adversity
- The beliefs that we hold and believe to be true about the event or situation
- The reactions and behaviours we display as a consequence of holding those beliefs
Notice how our reactions and behaviours are not a direct result of the adversity we are experiencing, but a result of the beliefs we are holding.
The ABC model, developed by Albert Ellis and adapted by Martin Seligman, is a model that highlights the opportunity in this process to build resilience.
If we were to take an example to apply this model, being made redundant might be an adverse event that someone is dealing with. And this has resulted in high levels of anxiety. The conclusion that could be landed on is: I am very anxious because I have been made redundant.
With this process, we have skipped the B - the beliefs. We have tied the reactions and behaviour directly to the event.
If we were to consider beliefs, we might come up with the below:
- I believe I was not good enough at my job, that’s why they made me redundant
- I believe I won’t be able to pay the mortgage next month, this is making me anxious
- I believe I will not find another job in this climate, this is making me scared
This way we begin to understand what is driving the behaviours and this opens up options of what could be addressed to help turn reactions and behaviour from negative towards positive.
And the start of this is shifting beliefs. Sometimes our beliefs can be inaccurate, incorrectly assumed or influenced. Questioning our beliefs can help provide a space to open up different perspectives and gather evidence that might help us make the shift.
So for example, if there is a belief held that ‘I was not good enough at my job’ this could be challenged as much as possible by asking: What would the people you have worked with say about how good you are at your job? What did you do that was good enough or better at your job? What are the other reasons you may have been made redundant?
As alternative beliefs start to be considered, consequences can start to shift. Our reactions and behaviours can become more constructive as the focus shifts from what is outside of our control to what we can change.
With more resilience we can find a sense of positivity and optimism at times of adversity, and a way of being more productive and peaceful.