Why a Focus on Resilience, not Safety, helps us thrive in Times of Crisis
[which is always]
How a focus on safety only Makes Us Less Able to Cope with Life’s Challenges
Hi friends. This is going be a ‘quickie’ as I am finally allowed to go to our family cottage in Quebec and we are leaving soon. Hip-hip-hurrah! We finally get to see something different than our backyard. My wife I did a ZOOM presentation 2 days ago entitled “Covid-19 and Mental Health – A time to build resilience.” I will focus in on only one point from that presentation [which can be seen on youtube at https://youtu.be/pxGkH3d6u9Y ] :
It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.
The research on mental health has found that while trying to reduce stress has a role, the plain fact is that being alive is stressful. You WILL have a bad day. Trying to NEVER have a ‘bad day’ or ever have to deal with a ‘bad person’ is actually a recipe for disaster. Why? Because you will never develop coping strategies to deal with ugly situations and ugly people. The plain fact is we do not live in a safe bubble, we live in the midst of a hurricane – the hurricane of life. So, yes, wear a seat belt, and recognize and defensive driving is more important!
So, what is Resilience?
Here is funny story. Yesterday my wife went online to be part of ZOOM presentation on Resilience, and was shocked that it was a meeting of High Tech managers from Kanata trying to figure out how to make money to “help’ organizations be more “resilient”. This is not the kind of resilience I am talking about, however useful it is. However, it does point to the fact that this concept is finally gaining traction in the world of business, especially in supply chains:
The virus shows that making our companies efficient also made our country weak
A ruthless cutting of ‘waste’ means we lack resilience.
But if there is a single economic policy lesson to learn from the coronavirus pandemic, it is that the United States’ obsession with efficiency over the past half-century has brutally undermined its capacity to deal with such a catastrophic event.
Efficiency requires us to force out duplication and redundancy, increase specialization and more seamlessly connect things together. Resilience, on the other hand, enables us to adapt to changes in our environment.
Well said. It is the same in world of psychology and mental health. What is the most important survival strategy is not efficiency/safety but rather resilience. Mother Nature makes that very clear. Animals/plants that over-specialize to become “efficient” can only do so for one specific environment. Fine, until that environment changes, which it inevitably will. That is why Rats, and People, live all over the globe, we are generalists, we adapt, we not efficient, but boy are we resilient! Here is a modern definition of resilience:
I wish I could write more to convince you that in in our lives, in our work, and in this time of Covid-19 policies that help people, organizations and our social infrastructure more resilient, instead of our current focus on “safety” is what is going to help us become better and stronger when this is all over.
By the way, it is sad that we have even failed at that effort, wrt the elderly, as
82% of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term care https://www.thestar.com/politics/federal/2020/05/07/82-of-canadas-covid-19-deaths-have-been-in-long-term-care.html . So yes, there is a role for safety, among those who cannot be resilient, like the elderly, but what applies to them does NOT apply to our youth. They are barely made sick by this virus, so the best strategy to help them “be safe’ is actually to help them increase their psychological resilience. More about this at these links:
Three tips for building children’s resilience during COVID-19 pandemic
Helping kids cope during COVID-19
Psychological Resilience and Stress in the Workplace