Speaker, Facilitator, Coach
How you respond in times of crisis could indicate your ability to manage your mental and emotional state. It may also indicate your ability to set aside the highs and lows of the moment and engage rational thinking processes before responding to a situation.
The year 2020 brought with it challenges aplenty, uncertainty in abundance and a barrage of triggers for mental and emotional highs and lows. Managing personal energy, balancing the emotional highs and lows and functioning rationally despite the fear and uncertainty is where psychological resilience becomes a core enabler for leading self and others.
Psychological resilience is ‘the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis or to return to pre-crisis status quickly’, or simply, the ability to spring back into shape. A crisis is an event or situation that leads to risk, stress, loss, fear or uncertainty for an individual or group of people and could vary in size and importance based on the perceptions of that individual or group of people.
Understanding what is happening in the brain in times of high stress or crisis is the first step to learning how to spring back into shape. When faced with a perceived threat, a person would frequently experience anxiety, fear, confusion and disbelief. This activates the survival instinct sending all energy and processing power away from the rational part of the brain (cerebral cortex) to the emotional part of the brain (limbic system). Any response while the limbic system is in control will be an emotional response, and while there are situations that require an emotional response, most situations will benefit from a balanced rational/emotional perspective.
It is vital to recognise when your rational mind is being hijacked and take action to spring back. Springing back into shape is a skill that can be learnt and one worth mastering. In observing the behaviours of leaders through the havoc wreaked by COVID-19, leaders with the ability to spring back into shape responded rationally and engendered support while those blinded by emotion made poor decisions impacting not just themselves but entire nations.
The speed with which you are able to spring back into shape could mean the difference between delivering an impactful positive response or not. Developing this skill begins with an awareness of what is going on inside you, understanding how you process information and then taking steps to improve and adapt this process. Doing this will help you to deliver thoughtful responses as opposed to emotive reactions more often than not. You will know that you have mastered the art of springing back into shape when you consistently speak, act and share in a way that is seen as rational, constructive and considered.
Springing back into shape is a skill worth mastering and to master it you need to act. Here are three steps to get you started:
- Awareness – Are you regularly impacting others in a negative way? Reflect on the triggers of your behaviours and try the steps below.
- Context – Alter your response by reframing the context of a situation away from the problem toward the potential benefits.
- Time – Pause before you respond. During the pause, complete a rational process like counting to 10. This will help to redirect vital energy away from the emotional to the rational part of your brain.