The inspiration for this post comes from a very powerful, and very moving, TED talk I was watching from Lucy Hone, she is a very influential lady who is a lot more qualified than I am to call herself an expert on resilience, she’s gained the right to that title by not only dedicated years of research to the topic, but also through personal events from her life, most notably, the tragic passing of her young daughter and two very close family friends, and for anybody that hasn’t seen that TED talk, I’d highly recommend you watch it, I’ll leave a link to it at the bottom of this post.
Another person more qualified to talk about resilience than me is Ross Edgley, his book “The art of resilience” is coming out very shortly (depending on when you’re reading this of course). The man that swam around Great Britain, pulled a car the length of a marathon, and climbed a rope until he had climbed a height the equivalent to the height of Mount Everest, is definitely a self-taught resilience expert. And the stories of these two very different people, who have shown resilience in completely different ways, have really made me think a lot about the subject, and I wanted to provide me input into what resiliency is, and why it matters so much across such a vast spectrum of activities.
So, what actually is resilience? https://www.lexico.com/defines resilience as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” Or “the act of rebounding” is another definition. First used in the 1620s the word is a derivation of the Latin term “resilire” which means “to recoil or rebound”. There are generally regarded to be four types of resilience: psychological; physical; emotional; and community. Personally, I believe that psychological resilience is one of the biggest factors in determining your physical and emotional resilience. The way you programme your mind to perceive the world around you, the way you choose to react to certain events, and even just the thoughts that you let occupy space and time in your head all determine what your body is capable of.
You may have heard of the “40% rule” and it’d told as being a navy seal rule that basically tells you that when your mind is telling you that you’re done, and you have nothing left to give, you’re actually only about 40% done. And that does have a lot of truth in it, I’m not sure about the exact statistic of 40%, but generally, when your mind first tells you that you’re done, you actually aren’t, you still have more to give, and the test of resilience is whether you let that negative thought of “I’m done” stay in your mind, or whether you can overpower it and tell yourself “I have more to give”.
It’s no secret that the mind and the body are connected in ways that aren’t always obviously apparent, bioenergetics, the area of biochemistry concerning energy flowing through living systems, is a testament to this. If you look at the big advocates of bioenergetics and how understanding it can lead to increased athletic performance ability, such as Elliott Hulse, he has built his whole career on strength camp (a strongman competitor himself) but also teaching men to be “alpha” to “ground” themselves and to do this he adopts an almost spiritualistic view on how to get control of your body. And the bioenergetic exercises, like certain stretches, and even just animalistic movements and loud vocal roaring, have proven to help him, and an army of men and women. And I personally have tried some of these exercises, and they do make you feel more powerful, and they put you in a really fired up primitive state. And to hand, I don’t know the full biochemistry that’s going on, but all this stuff originates in the mind, controlling your energy and your hormones, and it does seemingly give you energy from nowhere.
And there is definitely evidence to show that tapping into your primitive side aids in testosterone production, which does, in turn, increase your energy levels (like a pre-workout supplement aims to do). But as far as the stretches, I can’t speak from a biochemical standpoint, but whether or not this has truth in it, or it’s just a big placebo doesn’t actually matter. There is sufficient evidence to prove that placebos do really work, and in turn that is just another way to prove the underlying connection that convincing your mind of something has on your body.
There has been a lot of research into how your mindset can affect your physical performance, and every study I could find concluded that negative thought patterns were detrimental to your ability to perform, the old saying “grin and bear it” really does hold true.
Not only there though, but when you look at men having issues with sexual performance (which before I continue I would like to say is very normal and very common affecting around one in three men), premature ejaculation especially is thought largely to be a psychological issue more than it is a biological one. The drug Priligy that aims to combat the issue actually works by controlling your serotonin levels, which is why depression and anxiety are often causes of men’s sexual performance issues and often times therapy is a better treatment than pharmaceuticals.
So how does all this tie into resilience? Well, your brain is the cause of most of the good and bad things that happen in your body (seeing as it is the main control centre), and the way you think has an effect in a lot more areas than you might at first realise. And if you can retrain your brain to think positively, and to try and find solutions rather than problems, then that could prove to be one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal, and whether your goal is to run thirty marathons in thirty days, or to cope with the bereavement after losing a loved one, resilience really is key.
Link to Lucy Hone’s TED talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/lucy_hone_the_three_secrets_of_resilient_people