Realistic Optimism

Realistic Optimism can feel elusive during times when reports of corruption, economic pressure, gender based violence and crime flood our digital screens … add a dash of year-end fatigue, plus life’s usual surprises and family dynamics and the festive season can either not come quickly enough or feel daunting and scary. Either way pessimism is not the answer, but neither is blind optimism. Realistic Optimism, the knowledge that you will prevail in the end no matter what, is the way forward. And yes, optimism can be learned … as discovered by Tim Dowling in this acerbic and pretty funny article from The Guardian

Written by Gabi Lowe

A Reminder to Yourself!

“Promise me you’ll always remember; you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – Christopher Robin to Pooh (A.A. Milne)

We love this quote by our childhood favourite, AA Milne. When going through difficult times it can be so hard to think that we have the strength to carry on. We doubt ourselves, doubt our ability to cope, that we have what it takes and that we will get through. Resilience is built in us all through going through difficult times. So even if you don’t feel like you’re going to be able to get through this time, dig deep. You ARE braver that you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

Written by Pippa Shaper

Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

The Capacity for Authentic Resilience

“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient”. We are often asked whether resilience is something that people are born with, or whether it something that you can develop – and the answer is both. We are all born with some degree of resilience- the human race would not have survived without it! However some people appear to be born with naturally higher levels of resilience than others. Author W Thomas Boyce, in his book “The Orchid and the Dandelion” refers to “orchid children’ who need delicate handling, and ‘dandelion children’ who are hardier and seem more resilient.

Whatever our inbuilt levels of resilience, the good news is that we ALL have the capacity to cultivate greater levels of resilience. Whilst resilience can be developed and honed by through going through difficult times, learning the tools of Authentic Resilience can also help us ‘resilience proof’ ourselves, preparing the way for when the shocks and stresses of life hit us.

Authentic Resilience

Authentic Resilience is a multi-faceted capacity that requires dedication and practise. Our Ten R’s Model keeps on developing and growing organically as we learn from the hundreds of people who come through our workshops. An important part of authentic resilience is the ability to grow, adapt, change and learn on an ongoing basis… that means not holding on too tightly to our own perspectives and hard earned opinions and rather being willing to remain open to new possibilities.  “Let go of who you think you are and become who you might be” Janine Shepard is a thought-provoking sentiment. It is true that a leopard never changes its spots … but humans change all the time, both in noticeable ways with visible paradigm shifts and in subtle yet powerful ways on a daily basis. Every experience, every thought, every emotion goes into the pot of making up who we are. We are constantly learning, constantly shifting and constantly changing – best we learn to flow with change rather than fight against it as it is the only constant.

The Relentlessness of Change

One of the BIG concepts we talk about within our resilience work is that of impermanence, which falls within the 6th R – Relentlessness of Change. It is a concept that can take a life time to wrap our heads and hearts around.
Impermanence acknowledges that everything changes, continually, whether we want it to or not. When we cling to what was, we don’t allow for what is and what might be.  The concept of impermanence is about “allowing”, about surrendering our idea of how we think things should be and embracing what is.

Reality Check

Our Ten R’s of Authentic Resilience  starts with number one -Reality: staring down the brutal truth and making meaning of the mess. When we are faced with change, challenge or adversity we can tend to take one of several positions. One of them is denial. “This isn’t happening to me” , “If I don’t think about it, it’ll all go away!” or even the optimistic sounding “Oh it’s fine! It’s all going to be OK!”

Other people can go to the opposite extreme: dramatisation of the facts, “My whole world has come to an end!”, “This is going to affect everything!” The truth is that resilience lies in the middle ground- that of realistic optimism. Being able to look at the facts head on, but with hope. Remaining positive about the future, but without a Pollyanna like approach. Realistic optimism means truly acknowledging your situation and balancing optimism with realism.