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Recently I was asked by a few groups to speak on resilience. It’s a topic very close to the surface for most of us as we try to figure out what “new normal” means and how to stay sane and effective given all the changes of the pandemic and the uncertainty still in our midst.

What I want you to know is resilience is not a trait people have or do not have. It involves thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in everyone. There are three specific things you need to know to help you understand change, get out of your own way, and tap the deepest source of resilience within you.

Understanding the Consciousness of Change

Human beings can struggle with change when we don’t understand it. As author and coach Steve Chandler taught me, it’s helpful to know that when unplanned situations and events happen, every person will experience and move through four states of consciousness:

  1. Objection
  2. Contraction
  3. Exploration
  4. Buy-in

If your narrative about change is “this can’t be good” or “I don’t want to deal with this,” that’s normal! In fact, some version of that level of resistance is exactly where human consciousness goes during Phase 1 (Objection) and Phase 2 (Contraction). Just don’t let yourself get stuck there! Shifting your consciousness into Phase 3 (Exploration) is an act of self-leadership. It involves being willing to ask yourself: “How can I make this change work for me?” That choice moves you through to the final stage, Phase 4 (Buy-in), “I know how to make this work for me and others.

Applying the Brake Pedal

One way to expand your capacity for resilience is to stop getting in your own way. Being in a human body is like driving an exotic car. You have both an accelerator pedal and a brake pedal at your disposal—and you’re meant to use both!

Your GO pedal is your Sympathetic Nervous System and it helps you drive many high-performance tasks to completion. When you overuse it, however, (and we all do at times) stress kicks you into “survival gear,” diminishing cognitive capacity for teamwork and shifting your mindset into one hyper-focused on self-preservation and protection. That’s why it’s important to also engage the BREAK pedal, the Parasympathetic Nervous System. This system operates digestion (essential to immunity and health). It also allows us to shift into a relax/respond/choose gear that results in higher learning, a growth mindset and enhanced problem-solving. In Western culture, we tend to be very good at the “gas pedal” but not so much with the brake. For ideas on how to apply more “brake pedal” to your journey, click here.

Accessing Your Inner Source

Human beings are made up of two parts:  persona (or ego/personality, which is the narrow self-image) and the psyche (or soul, which is open and expansive). We are most successful and effective when we recognize and work with both of these parts of ourselves. Our personalities enable us to take on responsibilities and get things done, but often are full of self-importance and judgment that can cause us to tighten up and focus on all the negative possibilities in a given situation. When our soul is allowed to shine through, our outlook shifts and life becomes an adventure with each day bringing new opportunities, meaning, and inspiring ideas. Consider making your personality available to the guidance of your soul today. Seated at your desk or in a comfortable place, bring your awareness to the two parts of you, asking your soul: What would you have me know today (about this situation or as I face this latest change)? Given what’s happening, how could I respond in a way that brings more harmony to this situation? What action would help me feel more at peace, happier, less conflicted? How can I be a part of the solution given what’s happening here? Then let those answers be expressed by way of actions that uplift you and others. That’s resilience from the inside out.

Your next level of personal and professional resilience is natural, it’s available right now, and it’s wired into the fabric of who you are. Its source is your very own consciousness and mastery comes by expanding your consciousness so you can access a deeper, wiser part of yourself. For more, check out my series on leadership and success here.

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