Practical Questions to Help You Build Your Resilience Foundation

Can you tell me how to get to the closest gas station?

Our answer depends on where we are in that moment- right?

Well, this applies to resilience also.

It is as important to understand where we are starting, as it is to be clear about where we are going.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone, we are all starting at very different points and often not by our choice. Yet, we compare ourselves to how everyone else seems to be coping and often struggle to understand why we can’t get to where we want to be in terms of coping as easily as others.

This is why we need to understand ourselves before “training” new habits, just like we do when training dogs.

Below are 4 variables that play an integral role in optimizing our chances of success.

1) SOCIAL CONTEXT

What groups or circumstances do you belong to? (E.g. Gender, race, employment, SES, hobby groups, religion/ spirituality, beliefs, sports, sexuality, passions, social roles, etc.)

What impact do you think your membership to these groups has had on your life?

You may have learned it is common-place to be dismissed, devalued, or objectified, or perhaps you  learned you should want a family, or be a martyr for your family and care for yourself last. Perhaps you learned that being physically healthy is a huge advantage in life and to prioritize maintaining it or to organize your life around your spiritual beliefs.

2) AGE

What stage of life are you at? And how does this impact your best times to work, play, socialize? Your health? Your sleep -wake cycle? The demands on your life?

E.g. When we are in our teens we often tend to sleep in, go to bed late, are very focused on friend groups; whereas in middle age – when the demands of work, family and often aging parents are at play, we may prefer to go to bed early and start the day early. All of those factors impact when and how emotionally available we tend to be. This shapes the best time to socialize as well as sexual connection with partners and timing of when we feel best able to tackle challenges.

3) HISTORY

What are ways you learned to stay safe through your life?

E.g. People pleasing, being tough, avoiding, being strong academically, being a workaholic or a martyr for family or friends? Being assertive or connected to your own needs?

It can be helpful to reflect on what are the things that give you your greatest sense of value and worth or greatest sense of “success” by your own definition?

What are some of the filters or labels you were told or internalized through your life?

E.g. I am strong, sensitive, anxious, smart, etc.

What are some of your significant experiences?

E.g. Traumas, achievements, times you felt your life was going in one direction and it suddenly took a turn- perhaps you had saved to travel and a pandemic occurred closing the borders, or you were a healthcare professional who finally felt ready to start a family -then the uncertainty of COVID hit.

How do you think all of the elements of your history shaped or contributed to where you find yourself now?

4) GENETICS

What are your personal and familial genetic predispositions to mental or physical illness like depression, early heart attacks, arthritis; alcoholism? What are common patterns of coping in your family?  (ie. Workoholics, porn, videogames)?

How do you think these predispositions influenced your life?

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER…

When you reflect on all of these together, how do you think they have impacted the following domains of your life?

  • Your COPING?
    • Including how you view and talk to yourself.
    • Your state (safety, fight, flight, freeze – ie. People of African Descent or Medics may be in an especially heightened state of threat these days given recent events) and how you show it when you are in each of those states.
    • Response to emotions? How attuned you are to them and how you respond.
    • Financial safety (ie. SES)?
    • Physical health/ safety?
    • Your sense of purpose and mastery?
    • Your sense of meaning or legacy?
    • Your play ? (with whom, how often, etc).

For a quick video summary of the 5 Things We Need To Be Well, the STAMP Wellness Model click here.

Now that you have a better sense of the factors that shaped where you are, how can you use this information to make your life better? After all, just as they say with dog training, “What can’t be trained, is managed”.

Stay tuned for our next post related to resilience in 2-3 weeks. Sign up to receive notifications when new posts are made.