I have been reflecting on what builds resilience in ourselves….those things that help us weather all the disruption happening all around us. To that end, I started looking for patterns in the people I interact with who were staying resilient over the past 20 months of disruption.  Here is what I have noticed…

The inner source of resilience

I used to sail and have owned two boats in my life. When sailing a ship is designed to have ballast. The ballast provides weight in the hull to stabilize the boat in heavy weather.  In the small boats I owned, it also meant that when I tipped over the boat was easy to flip back upright. 

For people, ballast is what helps them remain resilient, even when it feels like things all around us are in motion and what used to be predictable is no longer something we can count on. The pattern I have noticed is that the leaders who are able to function well despite uncertainty are the ones whose source of stability is internal

Resilience is the ability of a system (or human being) to maintain function through disruption. When we are resilient and disrupted, we look internally for the source of stability. This could be our sense of purpose, a focus on our core values, our ability to believe in our own capacity to shape our lives (which is different than our ability to control things around us), and/or our belief that we and our actions matter at this point of time.

These inner beliefs give us an inner locus of control. We perceive and respond to external events through this central core. Conversely, if we have an external locus of control, we use outside events, beliefs, and opinions happening around us to shape our sense of stability and resilience. Resilience in this case comes from the predictability of external events and our ability to control them. 

Three ways to strengthen your inner source of resilience

Unfortunately, the security found in the predictability and control of external factors is almost non-existent. So many external factors are changing that our resilience is challenged on every level. 

If you’re feeling as though your resilience is a bit shaky, here are some ways to strengthen your inner core:

  1. Use a discernment process to identify your inner strengths.  Ask people to identify your unique gifts. This simple process helps us to see ourselves as others see us and gives us a deeper understanding of who we are at our inner core.
  2. Articulate your inner beliefs and life purpose. Discovering and articulating our beliefs that shape our life and our purpose on this planet provide us with an internal “north star” that helps us stay on course when everything around us is changing.
  3. Use the metaphor of developing the core muscles in our body for some hints. Just as we develop these muscles by exercising and focusing on them, we can do the same with our resilience “muscle.”

The next time you are feeling overwhelmed with events and your resilience feels like it is weakening, use these strategies to recenter yourself and see if it helps.