The Physiology and Psychology of Resilience

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Facing challenges or things that are difficult for us come in conquering two areas of our being. Those two areas are our physiology and our psychology. If we can use these two areas of our being we will meet our failures, areas of stress and challenges with success.

In the area of physiology, the way we hold or carry our body affects whether we feel like we can overcome adversity. If we walk with our shoulders back, chin up and decide to smile and look forward with confidence we will feel more like we can meet our challenge head on. If we combine that way of carrying ourselves with speaking to ourselves with positive affirmations like, “I can do it.” we are far more likely to give it our best try.

I was in a class one time when we were invited to show our Superhero pose. It sounds silly, but standing with our legs apart a little, hands on our hips or in another manner to take up space we can begin to feel like a Superhero, ready to take on the challenges of the world.

In the area of psychology, the questions we ask ourselves tells our brain what direction to go. If we ask “Why” questions, we will get back all kinds of excuses and others to blame why we can’t do something. If we ask “How” questions, we will get back possible ways of overcoming our obstacle and then we can choose which one we are willing to try.

Physically and Mentally we can prepare ourselves to take on the world of adversity and stress with the right words and actions.

4 Steps To Coach Our Children To Have Resilience

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Teaching our children to have resilience means that we must teach them how to solve problems, adversity, frustrations and overcome challenges. This is not done by telling them what to do, but rather helping them to clarify for themselves how to resolve the issue they are facing. How we do this is with questions and allowing them the time to think and express themselves.

Let’s look at a possible situation you may face with your child. If your child comes to you with a problem like someone is picking on them at school we may have a strong emotional response and want to know who what where when and even why. If we were to ask any of those questions first, we are in danger of cutting off the conversation immediately, as the child first wants us to know what and how they are feeling and they do not want you to jump in and solve the issue.

Here are the steps to follow to help them learn resilience.

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Brainstorm solutions
  3. Try one of the solutions
  4. Repeat until you have resolution.
  • Ask them (Step 1) what is happening and how they are feeling about the problem
  • Watch carefully and listen with patience. If they begin to cry, allow the tears, and you may ask, what the tears are about.
  • You may (Step 2) ask them what they would like to do about the situation. Again give them time.
  • Suggest that we might make a list of possible solutions or responses. There is no reaction to any of the ideas they come up with, even if they are far fetched, would bring adverse consequences or simply not going to work in your mind.
  • Be patient. Encourage adding more to the list even if it is at a later time.
  • Once you have a list of at least 5-10 options, then ask them what would happen if they did each of them. So if they said sometimes they would just like to hit them, only ask what the consequence would be and without emotion just write it down or have them write it down.
  • Now you have two lists; one of the actions and one of the consequences.
  • “Which one would you like to try first?” – Allow them to decide.

They have taken the first step in resilience.

Brainstorm possible solutions, choose one you would like to try.

(Step 3)  is to try it. This process can be (Step 4) repeated with any of the possible actions listed. You may need to help them practice what they choose to do, and you will want to follow up with them and see how or if it worked or if they want to try something different. But you are now teaching them the basics of practicing resilience.

Follow the process:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Brainstorm solutions
  3. Try one of the solutions
  4. Repeat until you have a resolution.

Coaching resilience is one of the most valuable gifts we can give to our child. Jumping in, rescuing or solving their problems does not in the long term help them face the world we live in.

There is much more we can do to build resilience in our children and to bring out the best in them and ourselves. If you are interested in attending a workshop or having a presentation at your school on this subject feel free to contact Joe Van Deuren for information.

Resilience – we have a choice of what we believe

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Every human alive deal with adversity at some point in life. The adversity we face needs to be put into perspective for each individual. For a child, something that scares them may not be scary for an adult who has had that experience. Pain for one person may not be painful for another. A frustrating situation may be a minor disappointment for one and devastating to another. Our life experiences are all relative.

Those same experiences and how we react though is based on the same thing for everyone, no matter our age. We base our reaction on the belief we have about what we are facing. Frustrated? If we believe we cannot overcome this frustration ever, then we may get angry. A child that falls off their bike while learning to ride and hurts themselves may begin to believe they will never learn to ride the bike or they will just get hurt over and over again. This belief may lead to giving up and saying, “I can’t do it!”  However, if they get back on the bike, eventually they will learn and that shows resilience.

The key to resilience is what you believe will happen. Each individual is in control of the belief they have about any situation. We can choose to be positive or negative. There is a consequence on either side of those choices. Building resilience requires stepping out of our comfort zone, trying new things, sticking with it despite setbacks and encouraging ourselves that we can get this, we just have not done it yet.

Resilience is critical for personal growth, dealing with the adversities of life and solving problems with creativity. It begins with believing and trusting ourselves. It is the outgrowth of the virtue of certainty and means we have confidence. Most critical is that resilience can be learned even if we do not have it now.

During this month we will learn more about growing our resilience in a world of uncertainty.

Gifts of Character: Resilience – The Definition

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Each month we will discuss one life skill with all of our students. This month’s skill is Resilience. This life skill will be defined in the following ways for our students.

Young students: When life pushes me down, I bounce back up!

Older students: The ability to bounce back from stress, challenge, trauma, failure or adversity

We are not your typical after school activity, in fact, we are an education center, working with students on physical self-defense skills while empowering families to bring out the best in our children and ourselves – through the martial arts. We believe every child has 52 gifts in them already. They only need to be taught how to grow and use them in their life. Balanced Life Skills serves parents, teachers, and students to reach that goal.

If you would like to see Joe Van Deuren and Balanced Life Skills at work, TRY CLASSES FOR FREE for 2 weeks.

Should children be allowed to fail?

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I just read a headline and summary of an article about a young man in a private school who received a letter grade of “D” in an honors biology class. So what did the student and parents do? They sued the school for not doing enough to help their son so that he would not get rejection letters from colleges he was applying to. Fortunately the judge in the case did not see it the same way, but this does bring up an important discussion.

Really?  Is this a realistic expectation in real life?
Really? Is this a realistic expectation in real life?

Expecting that our children should or will get all of the best grades and will excel at everything they try is not realistic and creates way too much pressure on them.  When they see us as adults make mistakes and recover with effort and perseverance they learn how to handle disappointments in their own performance.  On the other side though, not allowing our children to have disappointment, consequences or failure by swooping in and saving them from every situation where we are afraid they might not “feel” good about themselves or get what they “want so bad” does not build – self esteem, resilience, grit, confidence, or anything that will help them in the real world.  

In the end children who do not learn to put in the extra effort or to pick themselves up and start over again, learn to feel helpless, hopeless, shocked at failure, and have an increased amount of depression.

That is one of the greatest lessons children learn in the arts and especially the martial arts. It is a safe place to work on a skill, make mistakes, keep working at it and then see improvement and success, all the time being encouraged by others for their incremental improvements. We have setbacks – we may have a test we do not pass, or a stripe we do not get, but we learn that with some extra effort, coaching and practice we can improve and be successful.

Combining failure or disappointment with effort and perseverance equals greater success and resilience for the next event in our life that may have larger implications. What other parts of your life can you use to learn these life lessons?