Friday, February 20, 2009

Resilience in the Face of Adversity

I just returned from a conference in Arizona where I presented a soon-to-be-published paper on workplace bullying. I presented this research with a panel of other researchers who also had written papers on bullying. Three of the panelists had been bullied at some in the past, and had written papers on their experiences.

While I listened, it really got me thinking about what the differences are between two victims of bullying - where one victim comes out of the situation more or less okay, while another comes out of the same situation with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There must be differences between victims that would cause them to experience the same situation so differently.

I also recently came across Kathyrn Britton's article on resilience. You can read the whole thing here.

According to Kathryn, resilience is the ability to deal with moments of panic, self-blame, anger, threats (or workplace bullies). It is adaptation to difficulties surrounding you.

The following three steps can help one get through a difficult moment:

1. Calm down. Take deep breaths.
2. Think of something that gives you a positive emotion.
3. Try to shift your thinking about the challenge that started the negative emotions in the first place.

Kathryn goes on to say that resilience isn't so much just the simple ability to deal with a difficult time, but it's also an accumulation of assets that include connections to prosocial organizations, close relationships with others, positive relationships with family, a positive view of the self, good problem solving skills and appealing personality.

Therefore, as you think about issues you face at work and the anger you feel towards the bully you must fight each day, try thinking about the resources and competencies you have accumulated thus far in life. Here are some questions to help you tally some of them:

  • Have you shown self-regulation in the past (e.g., with money, your temper, etc)?
  • Do you have a community of friends who can support you?
  • Have you helped others?
  • Have you dealt with serious adversity in the past? How did you deal with it? What were the skills you gained?
  • Are you a positive or a negative thinker? If you are a negative thinker, what is your plan to start thinking more positively?

Remember that ultimately your experience with the bully will only build your skills and ability to deal with adversity. It's not so bad afterall - use the opportunity to build your ability to be resilient.

This article was adapted from Kathryn Britton's article posted on Postive Psychology News Daily, and the article can be read in full here.

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