Resilience has gained a great deal of attention over the past few years as our mental health has come to the the forefront of our daily lives. Despite this, resilience is often misunderstood and misinterpreted.
The Resilience Doughnut
This is a refreshing look at resilience which gives people an action plan to increase their own resilience and wellbeing as well as others around them and those in their care. As we face different challenges in our lives, building up resilience is an important process.
The Resilience Doughnut identifies the key factors which, when combined, help individuals move towards resilience fitness. The flow-on effect is a strengths-based confidence that enables them to manage stress, transitions and move towards enhanced fitness and resilience to face the challenges of daily life.
The Resilience Doughnut is perfect for personal use or for parents and professionals who would like to build the emotional resilience of others using evidence-based practice, based on what is working in the lives of children, young people and adults. The Resilience Doughnut has been widely accepted by parents and a wide range of professionals including: teachers, psychologists, GPs, case workers, social workers, youth workers, business leaders and managers, occupational health workers... in fact lots of people, around the world, who are interested in helping themselves and others to become more resilient.
The Resilience Doughnut model also provides a simple framework for those looking to foster resilient and positive families, communities and organisations with the capacity to grow and flourish.
Strengths-based - Doing more of what's working.
Past research has tended to focus on risk factors in the lives of people. With young people in particular, it has focused on those involved in health risk behaviours. In other words, efforts have been directed towards trying to understand why certain people are not resilient. While this notion is popular with professionals working individually with people, it is not always useful for parents trying to raise their child effectively, managers and leaders trying to enable their team to flourish. Nor does it help the teacher or school leader who wants to see their students cope with pressures inside and outside of school.
More recently, research has focused on people who are resilient, despite the adversities they are facing. A number of researchers have found that there are common qualities amongst those individuals who are able to thrive despite the difficulties. The Resilience Doughnut is based on seven factors that people who have been through adversity and survived and thrived, have in common.
Solution Focused Resilience.
The solution focused approach is embedded within The Resilience Doughnut and woven throughout all our workshops, training and coaching. When we combine the skills of solution focused therapy and coaching, as established by Steve de Shazer, and research into the contexts where people learn resiliency skills we refer to this as solution focused resilience.
Studies have shown that resilient people have an optimistic thinking pattern which is evident in their approach to change. They have skills in being adaptable and this is evident in their previous successful experiences. Even though most people showing resilient thinking patterns have high expectations, they see difficulties as opportunities and not threats and nest themselves in a supportive and connected environment. Most of all people showing resilience appear to be aware of their goals and values which guide their decisions.
The solution focused approach uses questions to help people focus on the strengths and resources that contribute to their best hopes. The approach helps to establish a clear vision for the preferred future and help individuals to take small and achievable steps to get there. Using solution focused skills in conversations can lead to a more supportive change orientated environment both personally and professionally.
Training in solution focused approaches is useful for professional and personal use. Organisations using the solution focused approach in human resources, business planning, and staff wellbeing have a more supportive and change orientated environment, higher staff retention and stronger productivity. Welfare organisations using a solution focused approach show positive changes with clients earlier in therapy than other methods. Solution focused therapy is often referred to as BRIEF therapy due to clients achieving the desired outcome in a shorter period of time.
What is resilience?
The American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress.” While this definition is useful, it does not reflect the complex nature of resilience.
Over the past decade, our understanding of resilience has shifted its focus from the individual to the interaction between the individual and their environment. Although some use the term resilience interchangeably with perseverance, mental toughness or grit, they are not the same thing. Confusing resilience in this way can be problematic, as this implies that resilience is somehow done alone. This is particularly unhelpful when we are trying to encourage individuals to reach out and connect in response to adversity. This idea also suggests that the focus therefore needs to be on the individual to 'put up with' a toxic environment rather than a focus on improving the environment and those relationships within it.
With this in mind, Michale Ungar describes resilience as follows: “In the context of exposure to significant adversity, resilience is both the capacity of individuals to navigate their way to the psychological, social, cultural, and physical resources that sustain their well-being, and their capacity individually and collectively to negotiate for these resources to be provided in culturally meaningful ways.” This definition shifts our understanding of resilience from an individual concept, popular with western-trained researchers and human services providers, to a more culturally embedded understanding of wellbeing. It makes explicit that resilience is more likely to occur when we provide the resources that make it more likely for every child, adolescent and adult to do well in ways that are meaningful to the individual, his or her family, and the community. In this sense, resilience is the result of both successful navigation to resources and negotiation for resources to be provided in meaningful ways
So, as we can see, rather than a character trait, resilience is an ongoing process between the individual and their environment. It is through this process, we build our core beliefs, which we describe as I Have, I Am and I Can. These beliefs reflect our internal competences - the tools and resources which enable us to cope, survive and thrive through adversity. Reaching out and connecting is an essential part of the process of building resilience.
Why is resilience important?
People who have happy and fulfilling lives have positive life skills that help them grow through life's inevitable challenges, rather than being damaged by them. Resilience is is at the heart of wellbeing, success and long term mental health, as we navigate our way through the inevitable transitions and adversities of life. Organisations, families and communities which build the capacity for resilience are positive places to be, which enable individuals to to thrive and flourish.