Tired of hearing about Resilience?

Resilience: the ultimate buzzword, in organisations, schools - everywhere! Problem is, we can't practice Resilience, until adversity occurs. Enter Self-Regulation - which we are all constantly doing. Self-Regulation can unlock both Resilience & a host of positive outcomes. Let me explain...

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Resilience has become a buzzword, in organisations, schools -  everywhere! Problem is, we can't really practice Resilience until adversity occurs, at which point a whole host of other factors are also at play. Enter Self-Regulation - something we are all constantly doing. Self-Regulation can unlock both Resilience & a host of positive outcomes. Let me explain...

In an age of screens and continuous distractions, often described as ‘the Attention Economy’, the question of how we manage ourselves is arguably more important than ever. Self-regulation comes up frequently with coaching clients in different guises - turns out, it is correlated with so many outcomes that we value - positive health behaviours, financial success, leadership qualities, and the ability to persist with our goals and dreams. 

I wanted to set out some of the basics in a series of  posts - to break down a concept which can offer us so much. Today I explain what Self-regulation is, and why it is so important.

What is Self-Regulation?

In Positive Psychology, the generally agreed upon definition for Self-Regulation is: adjusting one’s attention, emotions, and behaviours to achieve a desired goal. This may require overriding our impulses and habitual behaviours.

Researchers often use Self-Regulation interchangeably with Self-Control. However, it is worth distinguishing the two. Self-control can be seen as conscious impulse control  and is typically behaviorally-focused (Read: it doesn't necessarily get to the root of the issue). 

Self-control can work in the short term, but it often comes at a cost to us, and depletes us. For example, Self-control might involve suppressing anger and not shouting. On the other hand, self-regulation might include taking deep breaths and observing your anger, so it dissipates. 

Can you recall examples of self-control and self-regulation that you have used this week? Over the next few days notice when you are drawing on your ability to self-regulate your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, rather than control or repress them.

So how does this relate to resilience? Individuals who are strong self-regulators, with good coping strategies have been shown to have more resilient responses. They are able to manage their thoughts, feelings and emotions in response to external shocks, or adversity. Even if their initial response to an adverse event (the primary response) is strong and negative, those who are strong self-regulators are able to manage further emotional reactions (the secondary response) better.

In the next posts, I will discuss the benefits of strong self-regulation, and how we can improve our ability to self-regulate.

Maya Gudka, Executive Coach, London Business School

Executive Coach & Facilitator; Positive Psychology Practitioner & Researcher; , YourPlate; London Business School

I use evidence-based Positive Psychology approaches, as well as years of Economics Consulting experience to access the right level of breadth and depth for each client on their personal and professional journey. I am one half of YourPlate, which uses strengths and personality based approaches to make lasting shifts in Nutrition and Health behaviours, with a fortnightly podcast where Nutrition meets Positive Psychology. I coach and facilitate on Leadership Programmes for London Business School Executives and am currently researching Leader Development.