Post | October 2020 | Past webinars | 3 min read

27 October 2020 - "Gentle Resilience - Staying Strong in Challenging Times"

Written by Gabriel Rodriguez

I'm sure we can all agree: 2020 has been one hell of a year. From the coronavirus pandemic and social isolation to economic hardship and political unrest, most of us are feeling tired, exhausted, and frustrated. Emotionally we are over things like COVID-19, but the virus is not yet over with us. While many of us at the beginning fo the pandemic may have seen these unprecedented times as an opportunity for self-growth and social/organizational change, at this point in time it's understandable that current events have sapped our energy. We long to go back to normal, hug our friends, have face-to-face meetings, or go to the office. And now we're heading into the darker and shorter days of what may prove to be a very difficult autumn and winter. 

How have we been coping? How do we stay mentally and physically healthy during these challenging times? How can we remain strong and manage our energy to help us stay strong in the coming months? We looked for answers to these questions during our fourth webinar of 2020 titled, "Gentle Resilience," with speakers Manuela Damant and Dovile Corrigan of the leadership organization Azkua

Simply put, "resilience" is one's ability to cope with unpleasant events and to bounce back from them - a trait that we, as humans, all have to varying degrees. But Manuela and Dovile made the very important distinction between what they called "stoic resilience" and "gentle resilience." Stoic resilience is the idea of taking punches without flinching or falling. Think of parents who work long hours while juggling childcare, or the person unhappy at their job but unable to leave due to financial concerns - all without complaint or outlet. Unfortunately, stoic resilience often leads to one being a martyr for others, and can result in exhaustion, burnout, resentment, and anger. 

Gentle resilience, on the other hand, is the ability to stay strong and keep going while at the same time nurturing yourself, asking for help, and setting healthy boundaries. Being able to cultivate gentle resilience can have many benefits: First and foremost, it allows you to protect your mental health, and this has the important ripple effect of easing tension within yourself, improving your relationships and environment, and giving you perspective on how to use your energy intelligently for maximum benefit with the least amount of mental strain. 

This all begins with self-awareness. One of the most useful charts Manuela and Dovile showed during their presentation is the one below, showing a useful path to gentle resilience. The first step is acceptance of the current situation: Accept that times are tough, but be grateful for what you do have and be open to possibilities you may not have otherwise thought of. Next, explore your options by creating new solutions or aspirations that fit your current situation, and from those choose options that best fit your values and mental health goals. These can include making contributions to your own goals, your family's goals, or the wider community - anything that contributes positively to your ability to keep going. Finally, activate, or put these into actual practice. And as you move forward, the most important thing to remember is to be kind to yourself. Gentle resilience is a continual practice, so you must cultivate self-compassion. 

We want to thank Manuela and Dovile for their inspirational webinar, and we hope it was a useful and positive experience for all of our attendees. And we want to wish you all luck on your journeys of cultivating your own gentle resilience! 

About the Presenters

Manuela Damant is the Visionary Collective Leader at Azkua. Azkua helps organizations implement forward-thinking collaborative, co-creative, and meaningful workplace cultures. Manuela spent ten years as Underwriter and Risk & Insurance Advisor at Shell International before becoming a coach in 2004. She believes in the good in everyone and everything and encourages balanced, conscious individuals to embrace their roles as leaders to create a better world for all. Manuela grew up in Switzerland and has lived in London, Melbourne, and now in Delft. She is also a wife and a mother of three girls.

Dovile Corrigan is a strength expert at Azkua. She has a corporate background in financial sales, as well as account and relationship management, with recent experience in entrepreneurship. She is a Strengths Strategy and People Acuity-certified coach who helps busy but ambitious professionals to grow their strengths more effectively. Dovile recognizes that it is not only about developing skills and competence on the job, but also about learning to boost and sustain one’s energy. She works to support individuals and teams in identifying their true strengths in order to achieve alignment between strength, projects, and career development. She is the mom of two lively young children and a seasoned expat understanding the opportunities and challenges of our fast-paced international community.

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