If you are pained by external things, it is not they that disturb you, but your own judgement of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgement now.
Marcus Aurelius (Roman emperor)
This area focuses on our ability to tolerate unpleasant experiences such as pain, hardship, noise, etc. This is what resilience is: the power and control over the effects of such experiences on us. Everybody, without exception, occasionally goes through some unpleasant experiences, so it is common to create mental armour to protect ourselves. This doesn’t always work though and also decreases our sensitivity towards good experiences. Let’s see if there are more constructive ways to deal with such experiences.
What reduces resilience
The following attitudes can make us less resilient:
- Poor physical state: being unfit, ill, hungover, hungry or lacking sleep understandably makes us less resilient.
- Becoming oversensitive is easy if we develop a sense of entitlement and neglect exercising the muscle of resilience.
- Expectations are a big culprit in this respect: if you expect that you will never have an argument with your partner, that your bike will never have a puncture, or that life will always be fair, you are bound to be disappointed and overreact.
- Exaggerated self-importance: those who think that they are the centre of the universe easily get upset when reality proves that they are not.
- Self-pity reduces resilience as it already implies resignation, giving up. It also amplifies negative feelings and never helps.
- Getting upset or angry: this is a fairly common response, but actually, it doesn’t make you feel better and can make things worse (in more than one way) for others and/or yourself. g) Feeling powerless, as it amplifies the negative effects. h) Avoidance: avoiding potentially upsetting situations not only decreases resilience but limits your freedom and choice.