Resilience skills are crucial in leading a successful life.
Humans have four fundamental uses of resilience.
- To overcome the obstacles of childhood;
- To steer through everyday adversities
- To help us deal with major setbacks or life-altering events (job loss, divorce, illness) so that we can regroup and continue to move forward
- To reach out so that we can find renewed meaning and purpose in life and achieve all of which we are capable.
Life change IS possible. People can change positively and permanently. Resilience allows people to make these changes.
Clear and accurate thinking is the key to boosting resilience. Thoughts which influence emotions become the core of who we are and represent our essential humanity. Avoiding misperceptions is key. Thinking based on incomplete data or data processed by shortcuts leading to biased appraisals is not helpful.
Another key to resilience is the ability to refocus on one’s human strengths, the basic strengths underlying all the positive characteristics of an individual’s emotional and psychological makeup.
Components of resilience
Resilience is the basic strength underpinning all the positive characteristics in a person’s emotional and psychological makeup. Resilience has six major components:
- Optimism wed to reality
- Flexible and accurate thinking
- Empathy and connection
- Impulse control and self-regulation
- Emotional intelligence and awareness.
Physicians and resilience
Teaching physicians each of these six important topics will build their resilience and improve their relationships with patients and significant people in their lives.
For example, under “Empathy and Connection” the strength-based skill of Active-Constructive Responding creates increased trust, decreased conflicts, and improved communication in response to a partner’s, colleague’s, or patient’s delivery of good news a situation in which physicians often respond poorly.
Flexible and accurate thinking is another important aspect of resilience that is often weak in physicians. They are bombarded by a huge amount of sensory and intellectual input all day long – far too much information to fully and carefully process. The brain takes processing “shortcuts” such as visual stereotyping and jumping to conclusions to manage the huge amount of data. Unfortunately, this easily leads to “thinking traps”, false conclusions, and regrettable behavior. Teaching flexible and accurate thinking prevents this from happening.
A physician skilled in all six areas of resilience is well-prepared to manage the challenges of life, health, and medical practice successfully.