Are You More Resilient Than a 1 Year Old?

Written by Dr. Marty Seldman, Chairman and Co-Founder of Optimum Associates
May 16, 2016

ResilienceFacing setbacks or severe challenges, Resilient people have attitudes and skills that allow them to regain their confidence, composure and concentration. In addition to positive, proactive actions, their main advantage is that they have learned what NOT to do in these situations.

An easy way to examine both sides of resilience is to think of a 1 year old trying to walk. When babies are on the cusp of walking, very motivated but not yet fully coordinated, they might fall down 25 times in a day. But each time they fall they do 5 wonderful things:

  1. Stay focused on the goal - Walking
  2. Pick yourself up
  3. Try again
  4. Get stronger muscles by pushing off the floor
  5. Learn about movement and balance

Even better than these 5 great practices is what they avoid doing after 25 "setbacks". Imagine what might go on in the mind of an average adult, who was given a task at work and got it wrong 25 times in a day. Now imagine what would happen to a baby if he or she had some of our adult "Self Talk" after we make repeated mistakes.

  • I can't believe it. I fell down 25 times today.
  • I'm such a klutz. I suck at walking.
  • My cousin Allison is only 11 months old and she is walking already. What's wrong with me?
  • My 1st birthday party is next week. What if I fall down in front of my friends and family? I'll be humiliated.
  • I'll never learn how to walk.
  • If my mother would ever get me the right shoes and some diapers that fit, I'd be walking already.

These Self Talk patterns don't lead to confidence, composure, and concentration. They wouldn't help a baby learn to walk and they don't help us meet our challenges.

So ask yourself, what can you learn form a baby's approach to walking?

Can you identify any Self Talk patterns that detract from your Resilience?

  • Counting the number of mistakes
  • Calling yourself names
  • Unfavorably comparing yourself to others
  • Catastrophizing about future failures
  • Giving up
  • Blaming others

In my next Blog, "Normal but NOT Helpful", I'm going to discuss how it's possible to "unlearn" and change these and other mental patterns that cause unnecessary stress, and detract from our Resilience.

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