Resilience: 5 Ways Introverts Bounce Back When Things Get Tough
by Jane Finkle, author, The Introvert’s Complete Career Guide
During this time of COVID-19, it is natural to have a healthy uncertainty about the future and to be alert to the shadows that may appear around the corner. Introverts who tend to be on the sensitive side might allow anxiety and negative thoughts to take over. Finding ways to adjust when thrown curveballs and being able to bounce back are essential to managing your life and career. We are all challenged by the pandemic, but resilience can help us see this challenge as an opportunity instead of feeling doomed. Resilience acts as the CPR that brings you back to life from any adversity.
After researching many theories, Diane Coutu, author of How Resilience Works and former editor of the Harvard Business Review, identified three unique characteristics of resilient people:
- Acceptance of reality
- A sense that life is meaningful
- An exceptional ability to improvise
Even if you feel that you may not exactly be the embodiment of all of these admirable characteristics, work at them every day. You will find that each can support you in creating a positive outlook and giving you a greater sense of resilience.
Stepping out of yourself and helping others in need can put your situation in perspective and help you bounce back too. Something an introvert often does well.
How to Build Resilience
Some people seem to be born with a steady, unfailing gyroscope, landing square on their feet no matter what circumstances try to throw them off balance. Even if you don’t have natural balance and this enviable resilience, you don’t have to feel as if you are walking on eggshells. What you may not have naturally can be learned. There are techniques and skills that will give you the power to rebound and avoid a catastrophic reaction that only make crises and setbacks even worse.
Positive Outlook: Resilience isn’t a denial of loss. In fact, it is healthier to experience the range of emotions associated with loss from sadness and frustration to absolute anger. True resilience is the ability to absorb a punch and snapback from defeat, by accepting what occurred as a learning experience with lessons to teach, one that you emerge from with a clear eye toward that light at the end of the tunnel.
A sense of humor and laughter can go further toward getting you out of that tunnel rather than sinking into a feeling of despair. How many times have you looked back at a challenging life event in the rearview mirror and laughed as you realized it was not so cataclysmic or unmanageable as you made it at the time.
Relationships: Introverts tend to keep their feelings and their trials and errors close to the vest even during the most trying times. This kind of self-contained approach doesn’t often encourage resilience. A key to bouncing back is to reach out to family and close friends and accept help from those around who will listen and support you.
At the same time stepping out of yourself and helping others in need, can put your situation in perspective and increase your bounce-back factor.
Adam Grant, Wharton Professor and co-author of Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, studied a group of workers who were asked to keep a journal of their contributions. The study revealed that the workers expressed an important benefit in helping others in the workplace.
“What really boosted resilience was focusing not on contributions received from other people but rather contributions given to other people.” —Adam Grant
Introspection: Resilient people have a knack for being able to ask themselves questions that stimulate and produce options. They don’t harp on questions related to who’s to blame or their bad luck. Instead, they ask questions like, “What’s the lesson here?” and “What are my options now?”
These are the kind of thoughts that often open the door to creative solutions and brilliant plans. Introverts' natural comfort with reflection can be a gift in developing resilience as long they see difficult issues as a chance to learn and grow.
Action: The time to set realistic goals is exactly when you have taken a deep breath and embraced the challenge, accepted the problem, and are ready to move on. When things are not going well your energy may be depleted, so don’t expect to make things better in one motion. Focus on a single aspect of the task and take one small step toward your goal. The achievement that this creates, however tiny, will allow you to shake off some of the sluggishness and give you the strength to continue further along the road to success. It is a fallacy that you have to be highly motivated to make things happen. Simply getting into action by making that first inroad, will fuel your desire and motivation.
As an introvert, you tend to enjoy fully plumbing the depths of an issue and employing your creative thinking powers to conjure up new and interesting ideas. These qualities are always at your disposal and in demand at work. These natural parts of you will be a lifejacket in a sea of change. Combine your natural ways with a splash of resilience and you will improvise your way back from any unpleasant surprises or traumatic changes that may occur in your personal life or career.
Jane Finkle is the author of The Introvert’s Complete Career Guide and has 25 years of experience as a career coach for universities and has run her own career counseling firm since 2002. She also created and led the Wharton Career Discovery seminar, a program still offered today. Finkle has written a weekly column, “Career Blueprints”, for Abington Patch and Finkle has been published on Business Insider, Fast Company, Inc.com, Mind Body Green, Psychology Today, and Huffington Post. She resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.