Way back in August 2018, we published this article which links personality traits to resilience.
Whilst relevant then, it seems hundreds of times more relevant now; since March this year I am sure we have all reflected at some point on how we have handled the pandemic. With this article in mind let’s review what our profiles can tell us about how we cope with setbacks and our general bounce-back ability.
Unsurprisingly, much of this appears to hang on our Emotionality score. Those with higher levels are more permeable to the outside world. This means they are likely to experience emotions more intensely and events will carry more meaning. From numerous conversations with those who have high Emotionality I often notice that there is a heightened responsiveness and sensitivity, plus a natural desire to learn and improve. This leads me to think that as well as ‘feeling’ things more, those with higher Emotionality may have a tendency to want to learn more from their experiences and become improved versions of themselves. They believe this is possible.
Given that learning from experience is an important part of developing resilience, is it possible that as well as experiencing events more intensely, those with high Emotionality are better at developing coping strategies? Let’s review the other factors now and the part they might play in helping us bounce back.
Will measures how independently we will arrive at our own viewpoint and stick to it. In developing a strategy to cope with setbacks, there will be those of us who are determined, make plans and stick to them. We may do this without referral to others and remain steadfast. These are characteristics of high Will and so may assist us when we are deciding what to do. Those lower on Will are more attentive to what others think before making their own choices; could it be that they have the ability to develop a wider set of strategies because they take the time to gather more ideas as well as just their own?
Our earlier article links higher Energy (extraversion) to stronger resilience, but why? Purely hypothesising, perhaps because those with higher Energy are ‘sharers’ and less reserved, they are more able to let others know how they are feeling? We know that voicing anxiety can help to ease it, but if I am a lower scoring more reflective individual then you may need to dig a bit deeper before you discover how I am feeling. It therefore becomes very important that we both listen to those expressing anxiety, but more so that we give quieter more reflective people the chance to talk if they want to.
How would Affection impact our ability to develop effective resilience strategies? We can draw fewer conclusions from this but again, on listening to the accounts of those with higher Affection, there is a tendency to want to help others as much as possible. In recent times I have even heard tales of frustration at not being able to be as supportive as they want to be. Could this mean that there is a tendency for those with higher Affection to neglect their own interests, whereas those lower in Affection are more able to keep things in balance? Possibly. For those who believe in ‘putting on their own oxygen mask first’ there may be something in this…
And finally, Control. What does this tell us about resilience? Again, our research indicated that higher Control could mean greater levels of resilience. This could be because those with higher Control are more measured and disciplined. It could be that putting new approaches into practice might come more easily and that their natural preparedness sets them up well to deal with setbacks. Those with lower Control are more permissive and allow things to happen but are less likely to rely on a set routine or ‘proper’ way of doing things.
These are just a few thoughts, so to summarise:
Will: how are other people coping and can that give you some ideas?
Energy: are you sharing your thoughts and feelings with others?
Affection: don’t forget your oxygen mask before helping others with theirs!
Control: develop routines and practices to help yourself cope.
Emotionality: listen to your 'inner critic' and its desire to learn