Editor’s Note: Luisa Lopez – January 2021

Resilience: finding meaning in adversity
Professional Women’s Association of Rome (PWA Rome) has decided to dedicate this month to RESILIENCE. Some of us have been thinking what resilience is? I have been hearing this word for a long time, but never more than now it has a real meaning for all of us.

Adversity is not something new, adversity is everywhere, but that doesn’t diminish its meaning.  Adversity is part of our lives, in one way or the other, for some people it hits harder than for others. However, now we could say that the COVID-19 pandemic has democratized adversity, because nowadays we all have to deal with this unexpected adversity.  Good news is that we could use its power to unite us, to strengthen us, to become aware that we are not alone.

One thing I have learned during the pandemic is that many, many people feel isolated with similar troubles, unaware that they are not as alone or as different as they think.

When we include the voices of many different individuals and adversities together, it becomes a conversation in which we must conclude we are not alone in feeling outside the average and expectable. It becomes a conversation that forces us to reconsider adversity and start the path of resilience.  As the American Psychological Association makes plain, “the road to resilience is likely to involve significant emotional distress.”

As I write these lines, I ask myself how common adversity is also related with the decisional process — and meditate about how to build resilience from the tender age, considering what a complicated struggle resilience is.

 

Apart from the historical moment we are experiencing due to the pandemic, adversity is a constant in life but what makes it interesting to analyze is the ability to positively endure the experiences to which adversity subjects us. However, living in the age of abundance skyrockets our expectations and jams decision-making mechanisms, generating stress that we perceive as adversity. There are 50 types of yogurt in the supermarket, hundreds of films to create your schedule on TV; immense fans of nail art designs, in short, I understand where the problem is: the offer is exaggeratedly wide!

In a world where we can choose between 25 condiments on the salad bar menu: I always take oil and salt. How could I choose the right one from so many options? Maybe getting better, makes us feel worse. Don’t you also have a great desire to return to the essential?

My reflection on resilience led me to give myself this simple advice: Simplify your life, reduce complexity, focus on the best for you and put everything else in the background, in short choose your fights or “choose your choices”.

And here are my two cents of wisdom for you: If you “choose your choices” you will save time and give more qualitative value to your preferences. Just think that even the new selection techniques in job interviews are based on the elevator pitch, the “short speech from the elevator”: they test your skills in 5 minutes! To train yourself, take part in our “Exchange Program” sessions, where you can introduce yourself to other fabulous professional women with your elevator pitch in a very interesting speed date open only to our members.  Look out for our next ConneXion event! Or contact us for more information.

 

At this point, I would like to focus on resilience but, what is resilience? It is nothing more than the ability to return to one’s original condition, after having suffered a source of adversity (stress). Why is resilience important, you ask? Resilience is about turning setbacks into comebacks. Hence, resilience is people’s ability to react to adversity. People with a good level of resilience are able to effectively cope with setbacks and even give new impetus to their existence. Exposure to adversity appears to strengthen rather than weaken them. They tend to be flexible, creative and easily treasure their own and others’ experiences.

Before we get going, let’s take a closer look at the meaning of building resilience. Get ready to get empowered. Building resilience means practicing actions and thoughts that help you work through those setbacks (adversities) in a positive way.  And it is not me who say so, outstanding women in the field of positive psychology, who have used scientific research to teach us about building resilience, say so.

Dr. Karen Reivich, author of the book “The Resilience Factor”, writes “Resilience is not all or nothing. It comes in amounts. You can be a little resilient, a lot resilient: resilient in some situations but not others. And no matter how resilient you are today, you can become more resilient tomorrow”.  I found this relieving because it means that resilience is not a personality trait that people are born with, but a skill that everyone can learn and improve over time.

Other scientists like Dr. Alia Crum, stands that we could overcome adversity with a positive mindset. Watch her TED Talk  named “Change your mindset, change the game” for convincing evidence about how the mind can cause changes in the physical world, as she demonstrated that stress can be helpful as long as you think about it as a normal and useful part of life. To discover lots of amazing hints to build your own toughness mindset, sign up for today’s PWA eConferenceBuilding Resilience” and start building resilience and breaking barriers!

Choose the speech or book that speaks to you most strongly and start building resilience. For me, the future lies in the “slow speed”, in the dialogue between brilliant lightning and acquired experience. As psychologist-guru Barry Schwartz says, “The more options you have, the more likely you are to feel discontent. The secret to happiness is not having exaggerated expectations.” After all, this is the absolute best choice, isn’t it?

I just want to add that staying flexible, focusing on a growth mindset (full of perseverance against setbacks), and choosing simplicity will be my guidelines this 2021. I wish you a life like the iPod: as simple as a revolutionary idea, intuitive, with so many exciting playlists. And especially with the “forward” function to move upward when you find something that pulls you down. Happy New Year!

By Luisa Lopez
January 2021

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