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Responding with Resilience

How hardiness can help

What do you do when you are faced with a challenge? How do you keep going when the pressure builds, and stress starts creeping in? For many people, times like these are extremely overwhelming and difficult to navigate. Yet, there are others who seem able to take everything in their stride. So, what makes these people different? And, more importantly, can we learn to respond in a similar way?

The answer may lie in the concept of hardiness. Hardiness is the primary psychological factor that contributes to a person’s resilience and determines how people react and respond to stressful and unexpected situations. Hardy individuals are characterized by a strong sense of commitment, control and challenge which facilitates a flexible, confident, and passionate approach to life*. This results in a strong degree of resiliency when responding to a range of stressful conditions.

For example, studies have shown that hardiness is associated with resilience and performance in a variety of stressful situations, including the armed forces**. Additionally, hardiness has been linked to effective leadership*** and protection against the physiological effects of stress*.

But what is it about hardiness that helps in the fight against stress?

The research suggests that it is the interpretation of stressful events, and their ability to cope with them, that separates hardy individuals from the rest of us*. In other words, being hardy is all about a person’s mindset. People with high levels of hardiness are more likely to view stressful situations as exciting opportunities to learn rather than seeing them as a threat (challenge). They are also more likely to actively engage in alleviating stress. This is because hardy individuals are strongly committed to their goals (commitment) and believe that they can control or influence the outcome of events (control)***.

So, if we want to change how we respond to stress, it may be helpful to focus on how we interpret the world and the challenges around us. For example, trying to reframe setbacks or failures as learning opportunities. While we may not be able to escape the stressful situations that life throws at us, we can change our response to them.

By developing our hardiness, we can improve our ability to persevere and overcome the challenges ahead.

Learn more about hardiness.

*Hystad, S. W., Eid, J., Laberg, J. C., Johnsen, B. H., & Bartone, P. T. (2009). Academic stress and health: Exploring the moderating role of personality hardiness. Scandinavian journal of educational research, 53(5), 421-429.

**Bartone, P. T., Roland, R. R., Picano, J. J., & Williams, T. J. (2008). Psychological hardiness predicts success in US Army Special Forces candidates. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 16(1), 78-81.

***Eid, J., Johnsen, B. H., Bartone, P. T., & Nissestad, O. A. (2008). Growing transformational leaders: Exploring the role of personality hardiness. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 29(1), 4-23.

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