Cultivating resiliency and seeing the world through a mentor’s eyes

Mentor and chair of the OU Students BAME committee, Tracey Inverary, shares some tips on becoming a more resilient you.


Being resilient is about strength to survive difficult moments and adverse circumstances. I am a mentor, and what I enjoy about Mentoring is supporting an individual to work through the best possible route for them to attain betterment. 

Betterment will be different in size and depth for each individual, yet will follow a journey of discovery, and viewing experiences with a fresh or hidden perspective. 

It is also about moments and circumstances that have the ability to shape you and cultivate an adaptable you that is supple when facing adverse circumstances. 

How do you work towards a more resilient you? 

  • Strengthening the brain which some refer to as mental strength or psychological resiliency. 
  • Learning from others/Mentoring 
  • Reflection and evaluation 
  • Strategy

Strengthening the brain

Our brain is the central core for learning, storing knowledge, environmental perceptiveness, somatics or movements, how we process a matter, and how we initially respond and act or react. 

Breathing plays a vital role in improving how we approach a matter and the extent to which this is successful. When in times of stress or anxiety breathing patterns can shorten or become irregular. 

Breathing correctly can help oxygen to move around the body that is not only good for blood flow and necessary movement of nutrients, but supports a healthy brain, especially memory function. It is extremely helpful to ensure sufficient rest between times of high mental exertion by taking a walk in an outside area, even if just to a different environment 

Our brains may function better from breathing though memories, and thought patterns can counter this exercise if not addressed. It is important to cultivate a positive inner voice. 

When looking to take the next step 

What is important to you, what do you believe you are capable of and how much time are you willing to invest in yourself to build towards what you want, or the skills you need?

Difficulties bombard us and our environment with negative messages in visual and audible formats. It is important to be critical-thinkers and be constructive about criticism. 

When it comes to our brains, optimism is needed.

It is important to ensure to avoid the slippery slope of no hope, when focusing on weaknesses. Not all weaknesses are just that. Some are undeveloped strengths.  

Acknowledge the difficulty and who is at fault. The power to think differently about that difficulty is not so much in who was the cause, as it is in recovery and therefore what is the next best step to take that, no matter how small, moves in a more positive direction or in the direction of resolution. 

Acknowledging strengths, can provide balance and credibility. The credibility at this early point of resolution is to the inner self. It is important to instantly validate yourself and encourage others to do the same. A lot of success is in the behaviour you enact. 

This will require a positive culture change. A change to the people, images, experiences that have since been influential and no longer serve you. 

There will be some good influences around you and it is important to draw closer to those sources of edification for intrapersonal and self-development. I advise seeking a mentor. If no live sources are available, books and documentaries serve as great sources for knowledge and growth. 

It takes time to fully mature from your learning experiences, so consistency is key to a fluid growth process. Build.

Reflection and evaluation

Reflection is helpful to examine previous habits, how they did or did not serve you and grieve the loss of old habits. Reflection helps you recognise and embrace the new habits required to gain the knowledge, confidence and success you are looking for. 

You will not be the same person and you will need to face that. Evaluate the benefits of that to help you move forward in the necessary traits that support your growth. 

Ask yourself penetrating questions:

  1. What does resiliency look like for you? What are the essential components? 
  2. What are your needs and concerns? 
  3. What adjustments can you make vs what is required? 
  4. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What are your knowledge gaps? 
  5. What is your ultimate state you wish to accomplish? Do bear in mind this may expand. For now, it will provide some focus and steady you in both difficult and good times. 

Create a journal to record your thoughts and actions. Use a format that supports correlation of what enabled good days and triumphant days to what the behaviour that supported creativity or innovation or happiness on a particular or throughout a particular week. Your journey may highlight skills and talent capabilities that were not clearly evident before. 

Use your findings to establish values or principles that you wish to base your journey or life on. This ethical standpoint is paramount for you as it provides some stability as you grow in understanding of yourself and your capabilities to discover so much more. 

Strategise

Now you can set out goals to accomplish what you want- the bite sized actions to propel you towards your vision. 

Resiliency recap

  • Acknowledge difficulty and your strengths. This provides a balanced positive view. 
  • Build the right kind of environment from which to grow and exercise critical thinking, engaging diverse thought and intellect, through good books, educative podcasts and supportive connections. This provides a nurturing environment. 
  • Apply reflective action – use personal journals to support you. This will keep you motivated from progress. 
  • Strategise and create a plan to provide purpose. This provides basis for consistency and focus. 

The betterment is achieved through a personalised approach to your situation and your ownership of each element. You build perspective that is enriching as it holds discovery of your current and cultivated capability. You can then face the future with calm – with resiliency – your understanding from conflict and improvement and/or success, equipoised within you and in every action you carry out.  

I tell my mentees/students, it is always good to have a rich source of tools and resources to support your growth and building your resilience, and recommend the following:

Transitions by William Bridges and Susan Bridges

HBR On Mental Toughness

HBR On Managing Yourself

The Five Principles of Performance Thinking by Jonathan Gifford and Mark Powell

Enjoy this list of rich reading sources to get you started.

By Tracey Inverary, Chair – OU Students BAME Committee 


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