Updated: May 17, 2021
As a former competitive fighter, I'm very familiar with what it takes to be resilient. It's become quite a buzzword over recent years, but I'm not convinced that this is what we need to be focusing on right now while we are still dealing with our response to a Global pandemic.
Let me explain.
Certainly, it would be preferable to come out the other end of this pandemic without permanent damage being done to our mental psyche and physical health, but is it possible to be overly resilient to the onslaught of demanding change we are facing?
Being too resilient in a boxing match for example could be a dangerous thing: just because a fighter can handle a beating doesn't mean they should take extra and unnecessary punishment.
Too tough for their own good we say.
In training camp, boxers prepare for a fight by sparring extra rounds to ensure that they have a surplus of stamina and conditioning if need be when in front of their opponent on fight night. They've already had supervised, controlled and calculated sparring in the gym so that they can perform with confidence on the big stage, on the big night. They train hard so that fighting is easy. This is not done by building and focusing on resiliency alone. Boxers do this by adapting continuously and appropriately to the increased demands during training. Progressively adapting to an increasingly challenging environment is how boxers build up tolerance and increase their confidence in their capabilities to endure and overcome the persistent threat standing in front of them.
This is where resiliency resides:
1) understanding our limits,
2) accepting the situation at hand
3) making adjustments accordingly = adapting.
Just because you can handle taking a punch doesn't mean that you should. A fighter needs to know his/her/their limits and it is much more preferable to find that out in advance, in the gym.
How could this be true in life as well?
In the midst of this current pandemic, the stresses of immediately being forced to change our routines and behavior patterns have left many still in shock and gripping with this new reality.
How can we position ourselves to think like a fighter right now to give us the advantage we are looking for?
In boxing we are encouraged to come back stronger after a loss, get back up after being knocked down and sometimes dig incredibly deep into our reserves just in case we can still squeak out a knockout in the last 10 seconds of the match. But sometimes we just have to take a knee. A fighter is totally allowed and sometimes encouraged to use the whole10 count in order to regroup and
reassess. There is no shame in pausing, in fact we use the pause in boxing to look for openings and to create our own opportunity. The glory is in outsmarting our opponent, not in outrunning them.
One of the reasons fans love boxing so much is the allure of the unknown.
Athletes don't like surprises on competition day so they take comfort in knowing that they've seen it all in training camp. For a fighter, it is an enormously empowering asset to feel prepared for anything. Even if they haven't seen it in the gym, they still trust their innate ability to adapt because they are used to being exposed to stress and feel comfortable responding to it.
And, sometimes we simply have to take a punch in order to land a punch,
but just because you can take a punch doesn't mean you always have to.
Accept > Absorb > Adapt > Adjust.
Resilience is found in adaptation.
Be resilient but don't take unnecessary punishment.
Work on adapting to your circumstances and you won't have to be so resilient :-)