Living Resilience, the SWAY way
I talk a lot about resilience. Often, I will go into companies and talk to staff about how they can build up their resilience (“ask for regular feedback and get used to criticism”). I have a whole chapter around resilience in the book I am writing, and my business partner Rachel McGuinness and I have built the topic into our coaching programme, SWAY 2020.
It is ironic that I am finding my own resilience being thoroughly tested. Last week we found out that my Dad’s melanoma had returned. It has spread to his lungs and possibly liver. We are at that point where we are waiting to hear if he is going to receive immunotherapy or not. We don’t know yet what that will mean. Or what to expect. This, as I am sure many of you can imagine, is hard. There is an ambiguity here that we are all having to live with. Psychometric test junkie that I am, I know ambiguity is something I struggle with.
The coronavirus has complicated things. I, at least, was able to go back to Wales to visit when we heard the news. My sister, who lives in Asia, would need to self-isolate for 14 days. This would be at a time when being on her own is the last thing she needs. The government are telling us to visit our older, sick relatives now so that they can cocoon themselves away from the world and hopefully stay safe and virus free. Again, this is at a time when my mum needs my help, and that help may be potentially lethal.
It’s not the government’s fault of course, or the NHS. It’s just awful news at an awful time,. It has provoked me to lean on my own advice and really test what works in the moment of darkness when the last thing you want is critical feedback! Here are a few of the things I am finding helpful. Hopefully, they may provide some use to others facing dark moments out there too.
- I’ve resurrected journalling. This has been an on and off habit of mine for years. It definitely helps to write things out, even if sometimes I am writing the same thing over and over again. Introverts like me will need this time on their own to process and make sense of their thoughts and feelings. Extroverts may find themselves drawn to talking it through with others
- I’m leaning on the comfort of routines. I love my routines at the best of times: my two cups of Lady Grey in the morning before I get started, my home-made oat milk cappuccino mid-morning, my familiar circuit of the parkland to clear my head. Far from being mundane and boring they are comforting and grounding. They remind me that I have walked that park circuit in hard times before, and they will pass
- I talk about it with friends. A support system is vital when it comes to resilience. The key is to know who can give you what. There are some friends who will give a hug (take that, virus). Some will share their own experiences, providing tactical and clear headed advice as well as sympathy. There are others who are wonderful for distracting and amusing you. You need them all, and the trick is to know what to expect from people so that you don’t ask for what they can’t give
- Finally, turn it off. So many people I work with have reported an obsession with the news at the best of times. Currently, most of us are attuned to any change in the latest coronavirus deaths, and watching Italy with intense interest. Of course, these are unprecedented times, but if the news is dragging you into a black hole of anxiety, turn it off. I’ve rationed myself to clicking on twice a day just to keep up with any developments, and that’s all you really need.
Don’t bounce, SWAY
When Rachel and I talked about naming our coaching programme we decided upon the idea of SWAY because we liked the idea of having sway, influence, and the advantages of that. The alternate meaning of Sway is just as important, however: the ability to sway with the wind, however hard and intense it may be. It’s a picture we preferred to “resilience”, which inevitably involves “bouncing back”, something which already sounds brittle and traumatic. We would both love to hear any stories or tips on how you “sway” in the hard times. What works for you and how you keep going…