Why Multipotentialites Should Become More Resilient
Image courtesy of Alexei Shershnyov

Why Multipotentialites Should Become More Resilient

Written by Nat Smith

Topics: Confidence

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Nat Smith

Do you ever feel completely derailed by a rough day, week, or year? When life fills our path with challenges that we don’t feel equipped to handle, we often feel like our only choices are to give up, or to soldier on and become bitter and jaded in the process.

Some people, however, have an ability to recover more quickly and thoroughly from the setbacks of life.

While traumatic events push many of us to the brink of despair, resilient people cope with those same occurrences in ways that inspire and confound the rest of us.

Is resilience particularly significant to multipotentialites? There are many reasons we might want to develop our capacity for it:

  • Pursuing more projects means we’re more likely to face failure.
  • Self-doubt left over from past ordeals can make us less likely to take the necessary risks to follow our dreams.
  • Recovering more quickly from difficulties in our personal lives will give us more time and energy to focus on our passions.

It’s easy to imagine that resilience is an innate quality seeded in select, lucky individuals in infancy and childhood. It’s true that early experiences generate contributing factors, but the science of resilience has important lessons for everyone.

In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, researcher Brené Brown notes five of the most common attributes of resilient people:

  • Resourcefulness
  • Higher likelihood of seeking help than others
  • A belief that they can do something to manage their feelings
  • Access to social support
  • Connection with others

These qualities are far more specific than the generic advice we frequently get in hard times, which often boils down to “be positive.” Cultivating these conditions and practices in our lives can increase our buoyancy in difficult times.

Did you notice anything about the listed qualities? More than half—three out of five—aren’t about solitary actions at all. They are rooted in community.

Asking for help, seeking support, and making deep connections often fall to the bottom of our list of priorities when we are under stress, but these times are when it’s most important to reach out.

We all face varying levels of isolation, as discrete individuals who cannot fully share any other person’s experience. And often, when we find ourselves in the midst of stress and upheaval, we tend to isolate  even more: Who would want to share in my misery? Shouldn’t I handle my own problems? Everyone else has their own issues; I don’t want to burden them.

One of the greatest benefits I discovered when I joined the Puttytribe was the unconditional support, compassion, and kindness of the community. When a joint project with a colleague was pushing me to my wit’s end, the other puttypeep were there to calm me down and offer me tools to get through the week. When a freelance job was so boring it couldn’t hold my attention, others who had been through the same thing offered suggestions and solidarity.

These resources don’t automatically make themselves available, though. It isn’t enough to merely seek out a community; the follow-through is essential. We aren’t used to asking for help. But some suggest that the best way to make a friend is to ask someone for a favor. Building connections, then, is the natural result of letting our networks into our actual lives—especially the uncomfortable parts.

Resilient people don’t just “bounce back” from trauma. They grow, while negotiating their vulnerability and uncertainty with each step.

They don’t go back to who they have been before. Instead of being defined by the challenges they face or the shortcomings they discover within themselves, they find meaning in their strengths—and in the knowledge that they are not alone.

Your Turn.

What strategies do you have for dealing with difficult times? Is asking for help difficult for you?

If you want some support as you build a life around your many passions, the Puttytribe doors are open on August 1 for 24 hours only. Your fellow puttypeep and I will see you in there!

Nat Smith is a playwright, student, and activist. Most of her endeavors involve writing, in one form or another—from freelance writing to songwriting—but she also enjoys yoga, listening to podcasts, and doodling. You can learn about her plays at natashawrites.com.

7 Comments

  1. GawkFace says:

    Good point about growth being a part of resilience.
    Also, while seeking help, we can think that some people really do like to be of help (Benjamin Franklin effect?) and that asking for help means strengthening the relationships by showing you value and respect the person offering help.

  2. Margaux says:

    Spot on, Nat! Aren’t those feelings of isolation and inability (for whatever reasons) to ask for help how depression spirals down and in? This is such a great topic to continue putting out there!

    Asking for help is difficult in certain but not all situations for me. What I’ve noticed is the earlier I ask for help, the better off I am. The more I put things off, the bigger the mess becomes, the more wheels that fall off the wagon, the less likely I’m going to ask for help.

    My suspicion is that I’m not alone. I think what happens is mounting shame about how bad it’s gotten and I don’t want people to come in and see the disaster I’ve wrought and then have them ask, “why on Earth didn’t you ask for help earlier??” Ugh! It’s the spiral of shame, right?

    So, in my experience, the time to ask for help is right at the start, and that only happens when I can be honest with myself and with other people about what I can handle and what I can’t. It’s also okay from the start to say, I can do this part of this project, but the rest I need someone else to handle because if I try to do it, I will procrastinate, it will take forever, it will be done barely adequately, and I’ll want to poke my eyes out throughout that entire portion.

    For me, it starts with being okay about not being able to do everything myself.

  3. Carly says:

    Thanks for your post Nat, which has come at a really opportune time for me. A great reminder that we need to reach out instead of folding in on ourselves. I find that every time I share concerns or self-doubts there is always someone happy to listen and share their own experience that re-energises me keeps me going.

  4. Ryan says:

    Great post Nat! Thank you for sharing your experiences and reminding us that asking for help is not a weakness; it’s a great chance to learn more and make friends in the process.

  5. J'Arnay Taper says:

    Thank you for this piece. It allowed me to add more texture to why I feel compelled TO involve others in my less ideal life circumstances, as oppose to recoiling. Initially, I am very apprehensive to make myself vulnerable by asking for advice — for obvious reasons, one being fear of judgement. Luckily, I am rarely turned away. In fact, not only will people seek their own resources, but they will search their network’s resources to assist me. My approach is to be intentionally transparent and compassionate with myself by framing my uncomfortable situation as “being in transition” or engaging in a gateway to my next best self.

  6. Lyndsey Rule says:

    Thanks for your post Nat, and for the hint to reach out. I’m rubbish at asking for help! I’ve been going through a really tough patch over the last year and it’s made me realise how important it is to ask for help when you need it. But I still find it really, really hard and I’m not entirely sure why. I have a lot of head worms about not wanting to bother people and they are harder to overcome when I’m feeling down or stressed.

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