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  • Writer's pictureWilma Hartenfels

Resilience - the ability to stand in the eye of the storm and perceive the silence

I believe that every person is born with a central developmental theme. A theme that keeps showing up no matter how much you work on it. A theme that forces one to pause, to look closer, and thus to always evolve.

My central development theme is the theme of 'overload'. I have a strong tendency to always start too many projects at once and eventually reach a point where it becomes too much. The good news is that I know this pattern. I know the signs. And that's why I know exactly what to do when the time comes again.

Even if the central development theme is different for everyone, everyone in today's world comes to the point of being overloaded at some point. Because the flood of information and the speed of change is increasing more and more. And what do people need at this time? Resilience!

Resilience comes from Latin and can be translated as 'psychological strength'. The opposite of resilience is vulnerability. While the goal for me was never to let everything bounce off me and completely eliminate my vulnerability (it's what separates us humans from machines, after all), it was important for me to increase my quality of life and find a better way to deal with stressful situations.

But how does one become more resilient? Everyone is different, of course, but here's some inspiration on what helps me in these situations:

  • Recognize the signs: Is your neck tense, is a headache spreading, does your head feel too full and are you easily annoyed? Take 5 minutes every day at noon and in the evening, feel your body, observe your thoughts and ask yourself: 'How am I feeling right now?

  • Relax: If you recognize the signs of overload, consciously take a break for 10 minutes, sit down and concentrate on your breath. Mentally go through your body parts and relax each one of them.

  • Think of the worst case scenario: Sit down and write down 'What is the worst that can happen if I drive project xy in front of the wall or xy happens?' Ask yourself at least 5 times: 'And what happens then?' until you get to the deeper core of your fear (e.g. 'everyone thinks I'm incompetent, I won't get any more orders and I'll end up under the bridge'). Ask yourself afterwards: How realistic is this? And: What can I do to get out of this situation (e.g. what skills would help me) and who would stand by me in this situation?

  • Get support: If my head is not working properly anymore, I get help from my sister or dear colleagues whom I trust. You don't have to do everything alone! Everyone has weak moments and I'm sure there are many people who feel honored when you ask them for help, because it also gives them 'permission' to be vulnerable from time to time.

  • Give yourself some time off: If you are really overloaded, cancel all appointments, take the day off, do something good for yourself, e.g. go into nature. Working against the strange chemical cocktail in your head (because that's what's causing your discomfort) doesn't make sense at that moment. I know it's hard sometimes, but think about how much better your performance is when you feel on top of things. I for one don't even need half the time for my work and am much more creative.

Twin-Tip: Approach the exercise 'worst-case scenario' is a humorous way and exaggerate your thoughts so that you can laugh at yourself. Humor is the best way to relax :-)

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