Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The keys to extraordinary psychological resilience

After suffering damage, your most urgent goal should be to stabilize your situation. If you lose your job, you don't want to lose your house too. If you catch the flu, you don't want it to turn into pneumonia. If you get a flat tyre while driving, you don't want to lose control of your car and crash against a wall.

Your primary concern

Should you fall into a well, your immediate objective is not to drown. You know that you must attain this goal at all costs; other concerns become secondary or irrelevant. Your energies and senses align to ensure your survival. Your physical and mental resources concentrate on a single task to guarantee its accomplishment.

This must-do attitude that makes you unstoppable is precisely what you need to cultivate your critical assets. Self-reliance, thoughtfulness, and decisiveness are the cardinal skills that will help you in times of adversity. None of them can be artificially implanted into your personality.

Progressive steps

You cannot improvise psychological resilience more than you can cook perfect crème glacée if you have never set foot in the kitchen. You cannot magically learn to view problems in perspective more than you can drive a car if you've never sat before behind the wheel. When you are facing a major threat, you will only be able to react quickly if you are already used to taking initiative.

Enhancing your self-reliance, thoughtfulness, and decisiveness is a long-term process. Those immaterial assets are worth more than physical wealth. If you possess them, prosperity will be within reach; if you don't, chances are that you will waste whatever wealth you may already have.


Do not be satisfied with trying out just one method to attain your goal. Reading good material may increase your self-confidence, but so will taking risks, travelling overseas, public speaking, team work, sports, joining a social club, dancing, taking cooking classes, and many other activities.

What about acquiring thoughtfulness? Meditation and self-knowledge may be of help in this respect, but so will be lectures, work experience, learning how to write effectively, staying abreast of the latest news, and discussing with intelligent people.


The same principle applies to decisiveness. Your willingness to take continuous action can be cultivated not just by making to-do lists, but also by identifying your priorities, cutting losses, spreading your risks, having a back-up plan, and developing a support network before you need it.

When disaster hits, those three qualities may prove invaluable to you. They will help you identify which actions are critical, stabilize a bad situation, and build a sound basis for improvement. Commit yourself to developing those qualities until they become second nature to you. 

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