Hardiness is a crucial skill which helps us to deal with the normal tests and trials in life. It is easy enough to remain motivated and energised regarding goals we want to achieve in the short term. It is a completely different scenario if we are either running our own business or heading up a large company or business unit with its relentless demands and pressures. In this case we need to build the mental and emotional hardiness to deal with the external as well as internal challenges.
There are many influences that impact on the extent to which we feel we can live a successful and meaningful life. We are shaped by genetics, our upbringing, life events we experienced, socio-economic circumstances we were born into, etc. Children are born either with a positive and cheerful disposition or with a more serious outlook on life. The former category is the optimist who tends to see the opportunity in every situation. They are also more trusting of people and life in general.
The other group are more the analytical, reflective type personalities. It may seem as if life favours the first category. The reality though is that life brings continuous challenges to everyone. Sometimes the difficulties are drastic but at other times it feels more like on-going stresses. Either way, every one of us will face situations where we feel vulnerable and possibly poorly equipped to handle what is coming our way. These kinds of occurrences will also not be once off experiences. The ups and downs and cyclical nature of life is a reality.
So the question is “How do I manoeuvre myself through this?”
There are certain building blocks we need to put in place during our lifetime that will make it less stressful for us to handle the challenges. One of these is hardiness.
In work done by Dr G.M. De Kooker in the field of Psychoneuroimmunology, she describes hardiness as a “collection of attitudes that function as a buffer against inner distress in the encounter with stressful life events.”
Studies have shown that individuals who fail to cope well in life display the following tendencies:
- They feel powerless in situations.
- They believe they have no control over what is happening to them or how they view a situation.
- They actively resist change and want life to remain the same.
Hardy people in contrast have developed the capacity to be robust and resilient. They have learnt to recover from what could be “perceived” as a disaster or failure and to try again.
Hardiness consists of 3 elements namely, commitment, control and challenge. Hardy people demonstrate the following:
- They have a strong commitment to themselves. This means that they are intensely involved in what they do and find meaning and value in what they do.
- They all believe they have control over every situation in some way. They have a rigorous attitude toward the world around them and bounce back with an attitude of “I don’t know how I will deal with this but I know I can.”
- They look for the reason behind the event: what is the lesson they can learn.
- They are stimulated by challenges and see stress as a motivator rather than as a threat. They accept change: pick themselves up quickly and move into action.
The reality is that our inner level of hardiness will fluctuate. There will be times when we feel strong and somewhat unconquerable. As the pressures mount up we may find that our hardiness seems to wane a little. Contact Me if you feel you are going through a phase where your hardiness is being compromised, so that you can explore the reasons and get back into the flow of work.