Survivor Resiliency Principles

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Resiliency Principles

by Al Siebert, PhD, Director, The Resiliency Center

Adapted from The Resiliency Advantage: Master Change, Thrive Under Pressure and Bounce Back From Setbacks by Al Siebert, Ph.D. (Berrett-Koehler Publishers)

Resilience: A person's ability to absorb high levels of disruptive change, bounce back, and even excel in times of change and uncertainty, without acting in dysfunctional ways.

The following principles affect how resilient you may become:
  • When hit by a major life disruption, you will never be the same again. You will emerge either stronger or weaker, either better or bitter. You have the ability to determine which way it will be for you.
  • As you struggle with adversity or disruptive change, your mind and your habits will create either barriers or bridges to a better future.
  • Blaming others for how bad things are for you keeps you in a non-resilient victim state in which you do not take resiliency actions.
  • Life isn't fair, and that can be very good for you. Resiliency comes from feeling personally responsible for finding a way to overcome the adversity. Your struggle to bounce back and recover from setbacks can lead to developing strengths and abilities you didn't know you were capable of.
  • Your unique resiliency strengths develop from self-motivated, self-managed learning in the school of life.
  • Self-knowledge enhances your resiliency because your way of being resilient must be your own self-created, unique version. Self-knowledge comes from self-observation, experimenting, and being receptive to feedback of all kinds.
  • The observing place in you is where you develop conscious choices about how you will interact with the world you live in. Experiencing choices leads to feelings of freedom, independence, and being in control of your life.
  • Nothing in life is permanent. When you are highly resilient you accept and appreciate that constant change is how life is.
  • As you become more and more resilient, you effectively handle disruptive change, adversities, and major setbacks faster and easier.

How Resilient Are You?

Take our quiz at the Resiliency Center.
Developed by Al Siebert, Ph.D., Director of The Resiliency Center

The Five Levels of Resilience

Resilience is essential in today's world. To remain healthy and cope well in this era of non-stop change, everyone must be able to deal with unexpected challenges and overcome adversities. In the workplace, everyone feels pressured to get more work done, of higher quality, with fewer people, in less time, with less budget.

Highly resilient people are change-proficient. They know how to bounce back from setbacks and find a way to have things turn out well. They thrive in non-stop change because they are optimistic, flexible, and creative. They learn from experience and are synergistic. They handle major difficulties better than most people because they know how to gain strength from adversity. When hit by major setbacks they don't complain about life being unfair. Like cats, they manage to land on their feet and often end up stronger and better than before.

Everyone is born with the capacity to develop resiliency abilities. The five levels are:

  1. Maintain Your Emotional Stability, Health, and Well-Being
  2. Focus Outward: Good Problem Solving Skills
  3. Focus Inward: Develop Strong Inner "Selfs"
  4. Develop Excellent Resiliency Skills
  5. The Talent for Serendipity

The first level is essential to sustaining your health, your energy, and positive feelings.

The second level focuses outward on the challenges that must be handled, it is based on research findings that problem-focused coping leads to resiliency better than emotion-focused coping.

The third level focuses inward on the roots of resiliency-strong self-esteem, self-confidence, and a positive self-concept. These three core "self's" are like gatekeepers to your higher level abilities.

At the fourth level you fully develop the attributes and skills found in highly resilient people (indicated by a high score on the Resiliency Quiz.)

The fifth level is the highest level of resiliency. It is the talent for serendipity-the ability to convert misfortune into good fortune.

When faced with adversity it is useful to remember that:
  • Your mind and habits will create either barriers or bridges to a better future. Positive emotions broaden and build your resiliency strengths. Negative emotions limit and weaken your resiliency.
  • Resiliency can be learned. It comes from working to develop and strengthen your unique inborn abilities.

Al Siebert has studied mental health for over thirty years. He is the Director of The Resiliency Center and author of The Resiliency Advantage and The Survivor Personality.

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