My #1 Go-To Resilience Strategy

I came across this quote the other day: “I know I’m on the right path because things stopped being easy.”

To say that 2020 “stopped being easy” is an understatement. In my view, 2020 is The Year of Resilience.

Rapidly changing and evolving events have forced each one of us to make an overwhelming number of life-altering adjustments in a short period of time, calling for Resilience with a capital R.

Our individual capacity for resilience in the face of these often abrupt, life-changing pivots, depends upon our degree of resistance to, or flow with, the external forces thrust on us.

Let’s talk science for a sec

In physics, resistance occurs when the flow of electrons in an electrical current is impeded by an external force or friction. When their flow is impeded, the electrons slow and their energy is wasted (converting to heat, but that’s a little beyond this discussion).

This is exactly what happens to us, literally and figuratively, when we resist because we are also electrochemical beings.

When we resist external events, we are physiologically and psychologically drained of energy. This exhausts us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Mental and emotional exhaustion, which can be more draining than physical exhaustion, leads to burnout.

Which is why, in rapidly changing times like these, understanding the role of resistance in hindering resilience, is so important.

Our Superpower

Humans have an extraordinary superpower and that is the power of self-observation. We’re able to take a metaview of ourselves, and observe and understand what’s happening in our minds, our hearts, and our bodies. Engaging our ability to self-observe transforms outcomes. Pretty darn powerful.

When we take a moment to self-observe, we also give ourselves the opportunity to decide whether we’re managing ourselves or the situation in the best way possible.

As noted, resistance impedes resilience. Resistance to a challenge amplifies the situation and wastes our energy. Resistance also clouds our thinking, impeding problem solving. Recognizing our resistance to challenges (which can be as subtle as a muscle twitch or a fleeting thought, so pay attention!), then overriding it, builds resilience.

This is especially important in the legal profession, in which challenges practically define the practice.

My #1 Resilience-building Strategy

My go-to, time tested, resilience-building strategy, one that has proven to be useful to me and others, is simply this: say Yes to what is.

Why it works:

Saying yes to what is overrides resistance, which we already know is our primary resilience blocker.

Acceptance keeps us in a psychological zone of tolerance for the challenge that we’re facing, giving us the capacity to remain calm and engaged under pressure, and see solutions that forge a way ahead. For lawyers and legal professionals, embracing challenge is fundamental.

Apply this in practice

No matter how many tools we own, they only work if we use them. You might begin to practice on small things, like resistance to chores or obligations. Or you may be someone who likes to dive right in.

The next time you sense resistance to something, be it a work matter or a life matter, instead of “oh no!” imagine saying, “OK, now what?”

Are you experiencing a situation now to which you could apply this strategy?