Personal resilience is vital to the transition to a more ethical, eco-friendly and sustainable way of life. When we talk about personal resilience, we are referring to two distinct things.
The first type of personal resilience is about emotions and mental capacity. It is about our mental resilience – our ability to 'bounce back' when things go wrong. And to forge on even when we experience setbacks.
The second type of personal resilience is about our capacity to meet our own bodily needs.
You might call it physical resilience. This type of resilience involves making sure that we have the knowledge and practical know-how – the ability to 'fall back on' our own resources and the resources we can find in our immediate environments when we need to.
Sustainable skill building is crucial for both of these types of personal resilience.
But what skills do we need? And how do we gain them? Let's explore the answers to these questions when it comes to both types of personal resilience.
Skill Building For Mental Personal Resilience
This first category of skills is all about our minds and our emotions. It is all about finding strength within ourselves. It is important to recognize that these mental and emotional skills need to be honed. Just like other more obvious practical skills, they take practice and perseverance.
Some sustainable skills that we should work on within this category include:
- The ability to 'cope'. (Learning skills in analyzing our own thought processes, breaking destructive thought patterns, and forging strategies to deal with it when things go wrong.)
- Empathy. (Learning to understand others, and their emotions, is crucial if we are to work with others to create a better world. We need to put ourselves in other people's shoes, and see where they are coming from, even when their views and values are very different to our own. Seeing the world as others see it can help us put our own issues into perspective, and think in more constructive ways.)
- Conflict resolution. (Reconciling conflicting viewpoints, managing anger and other extreme emotions, and finding constructive ways to resolve conflicts – both inside our own minds and with others – is also important.)
Working on these core mental skills can be important to boosting mental personal resilience. In turn, this is crucial for real sustainability. True sustainability begins within. If we don't tackle these issues and hone these less obvious skills, we can't hope to move beyond ourselves and adopt better, more sustainable practices in our homes, communities and in the wider world.
Honing mental skills means we are building a firm foundation to build other skills that we will need as we transition to a more sustainable future.
Skill Building For Physical Personal Resilience
Most sustainable skill building focuses on this second category of personal resilience. But before you begin to learn specific skills, it can be useful to think about learning the skill of building skills and knowledge. In order to build knowledge and skill, we need to think about how we learn.
Learning is the mechanism by which we gain knowledge. But we don't all learn in the same way. Part of getting to know yourself is understanding how you learn. Applying lessons learned is also key to establishing, and maintaining, your new improved way of life.
There is an increasing understanding among educators and others that no two people learn in exactly the same way. Some are solitary learners, while others learn best in social settings, feeding off and learning from other people. Neither one is superior to the other, but understanding which camp you fall into will help to facilitate your life's journey.
In addition to determining whether you learn best alone or with others, it can be helpful to consider which of five other different learning styles work best for you. These learning styles are:
Visual – Learning using pictures, images and spatial understanding.
Aural – Learning using sounds and music.
Verbal – Learning with words, both in speech and writing.
Physical – Learning through doing – using the body, hands and sense of touch.
Logical – Learning through mathematics, logic and systems analysis.
Most people learn using some combination of the above learning styles, but some find it much easier to learn when one of the above learning styles is used. Understanding how your mind works when it comes to learning can facilitate your personal journey towards a more sustainable way of life.
Practical Skills to Learn
Once you work out how you learn, you need to think about what to learn. The key is to think about what resilience means in the physical sphere. You might begin by thinking about the skills required to meet the basic needs of food, water and shelter.
Practical skills that might come in handy include:
- Gardening/ growing your own
- Plant identification/ foraging
- Plant lore/ herbal medicine
- Cooking and food preservation
- Sourcing/ harvesting and managing water
- Sustainable building/ construction
- DIY/ up-cycling/ crafting. (Woodwork, knitting, sewing, basketry etc.)