The concept of resilience is complex, yet simple. It is as simple as the metaphor of a rubber band. Rubber bands, like people, come in different sizes and are subjected to different challenges. They also have different thickness and abilities to stretch–shorter or longer.
Stretch, Challenge and Heat
I have had times when I snapped or felt broken. Sometimes we say too many “Yes”s to challenges or we face a disaster or crisis that blows our minds or breaks our hearts. It happens!
We need to avoid stretching beyond our limits. Avoid unnecessary disaster or crisis while welcoming healthy challenge. Be prepared! Any mountain climber or adventurer will tell you that. Carefully choose when you say “Yes”. Take on enough change and responsibility to ensure you feel some excitement in your life. Avoid being bored while not stretching yourself to the point of breakdown. You can say “No” to protect your time, energy and resources.
The metaphor of the rubber band is also complex. The modern rubber band goes through a process called vulcanization. This gives the rubber durability with increased elongation and the flexibility to snap back. Manufacturers routinely check the rubber bands for break strength and how much stretch the bands should be able to endure.
With normal use, a band will not break. Expose the rubber band to adverse, outside influences such as heat, however, and the rubber quickly deteriorates. Keeping rubber bands cool helps maintain their flexibility. A rubber band is weakened and often useless after being exposed to heat. That is when we throw it away.
We humans need to watch that we do not become hot-headed. It is best to be vigilant to heated arguments and hot conflict. Or be prepared with conflict resolution and relaxation skills. Mindfulness and practices of meditation can also help. We function best when we are able to keep cool under adverse situations.
We are Stronger after Being Stretched
Fortunately, we are not rubber bands. When we snap, crack or break we do not end up in a garbage bin. We can access help and get back on track. We can bounce back stronger after our personal and professional walks through fire. Rubber bands demonstrate resilience. We show even more flexibility, bounce-ability and spring, especially when we practice basic hardiness and wellness strategies. The result is increased confidence, flexibility, health and vitality.
For organizational bottom lines, this means improved results in adaptability to business change and improved employee productivity, problem-solving, collaboration, retention and work satisfaction. For families, it means an opportunity for members to flourish.
If you stretch a rubber band to its maximum, it usually springs back. That is because rubber bands are primarily made from natural rubber. Natural rubber has a superior elasticity. It is made up of minute threads that, when stretched, untwist and unbend, sort of like, becoming unglued.
If we can avoid becoming rigid in our thinking and be become flexible with a natural elasticity. This helps us spring from life challenges.
If you stretch these threads too far, the rubber splits. The rubber band then snaps, cracks or breaks. We can say “Yes” too many times or face a disaster or deal with crisis. We risk blowing our minds and breaking our hearts.
The good news is, as human beings we are hard wired for connection. We are meant to ask for help. We will not be discarded like a useless rubber band. With a bit of help we can get back on track. Resilience is like a rubber band with this exception. Be careful not to spend too many moments limp and useless or stretched beyond your capacity.
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Patricia Morgan MA CCC helps her readers, clients, and audiences lighten their load, brighten their outlook, and strengthen their resilience. To go from woe to WOW call 403.830.6919 or email a request.