Resilience through social connection
Happy New Year! Here we are again, the start of yet another year in which we are desperately hoping that things will be better, despite the fact that all signs point to more of the same challenges that we’ve been facing over the past two years. So many women we have spoken to this year are feeling the weight of that burden. It shows up in different ways; lack of energy, disillusionment, frustration, and for many women, burnout.
For that reason, resilience is fast becoming the buzz word of 2022. We all know what it means and you may even be aware of how it shows up for you … what your triggers are, your go-to strategies for tapping into your natural resilience resources. So, when I (Kellie) attended a workshop recently that was focused on resilience, I didn’t expect to come away with anything new.
This particular approach to resilience, Rachel Karu's Self-Resilience Indicator, identified 8 different facets of self-resilience. Other resilience assessments I’ve taken before had similar variations on the same themes. The idea being that you can look at your areas of strength (the strategies you employ most frequently … for me, unsurprisingly it’s around structure!) and those areas in which you could do with a little more support to make it a behavior you can access more easily.
The focus of this workshop was on the area of social connection and support as a resilience tool, which was apropos given the social limitations of the past two years. As an introvert, with a strong independent streak, I didn’t score highly on the assessment. And as we were asked to reflect on our willingness to ask for help and the depth of our network of trusted advisors, I was forced to admit that it’s an area that I could definitely put some more intentionality into.
It was interesting to reflect on what holds me back from asking for help. Perfectionistic (“I should be able to handle this”) and people pleasing (“I don’t want to be a burden”) tendencies were easy thought patterns to spot. However, it runs deeper than that. There is a vulnerability that is required to open yourself up to deepening these relationships and to asking for what you need. But when I thought about the trusted advisors that I do have in my life, I realized that all of those fears and insecurities were fallacies. People want to connect; it is an innate human need. People also love to help. It feels good to be needed and valued by others.
So armed with those insights, what was I inspired to do differently? Ironically, my intention for this year is to be more visible, to put myself out there, which counts for nothing if I’m not also developing connections and relationships. So, over the past two weeks I have made a deliberate effort to reach out to colleagues and friends alike. I’ve set up calls, meetings and social outings. And what I’ve discovered is that not one of those approaches has been turned down. In fact, all of them have been graciously and enthusiastically accepted. Even the introvert in me is energized by these connections, and hard things have been made easier by the help that I’ve received when I’ve asked.
I know that sometimes these connections can feel like one more thing on your to do list. Who has the time or the energy to develop and maintain relationships when you are on the brink of burnout? And yet, these very connections can be a lifeline when we need it most.
As you reflect on your own social connection/support resilience, what do you notice? Has the pandemic taken its toll on your network and your sense of connection? What would be one simple action you could take to help boost your resilience in this regard? But don’t make it a chore … find the easiest commitment that would bring you the greatest joy … because, let’s face it, if we are going to make it through yet another year of this pandemic, we will need all the joy we can find!