The Power of Adaptability

Photo by  Rachel  on  Unsplash

Photo by Rachel on Unsplash

Overcoming the Unknown

Some people make it look easy, while others struggle when faced with the possibility of entering into the “unknown”.  Whether it be a new job, relationship, or the little day-to-day speed bumps, adaptability is a key player in handling new situations without feeling stressed and overwhelmed. 

Learning how to become more adaptable can help us become more resilient and confident when facing change or challenging situations.  But first, we must have a thorough understanding of what adaptability is: Adaptability can best be explained as a person’s ability (which can be made up of their disposition, motivation, and their willingness) to adjust or change to accommodate a different social situation, a change in surroundings, or a new endeavor.  In today’s fast-moving and changing world, this is an important component of good mental health.

The Inner Strength of Adaptability

Think of adaptability as an inner strength that can help prevent you from experiencing negative emotions like fear, worry, or even hopelessness, when dealing with change.  So how do we do that?

First of all, studies show that the highly adaptable person has close relationships, meaningful interactions, and fulfilling activities that they engage in.  So, increasing your social circle (or establishing a tribe) is one way. People that have this support network are better equipped to handle change.

Cultivating Adaptability

In addition, the following is helpful when faced with change or ambiguity: 

  • Simply identify and acknowledge your situation.  Trying to accept the situation you are in will allow you to move forward.   You don’t have to like it, but accepting it goes a long way toward a healthier outlook.  

  • Try to see the possibility of change moving forward.  Decide if and how you can take control of the situation, even in the smallest way.

  •  If your struggle involves another person, try to look at things differently from their perspective, or change your approach.   

  •  Recognize that sometimes, being flexible is necessary and easier than fighting change – particularly if there is some good that can come out of it.

  •  Try to remain optimistic.  Many times, the changes we fear actually end up being a positive force in our lives.

  •  Do your best to manage your stress.   Make sure you are taking adequate time for self-care.  Try to continue engaging in activities you enjoy, so you’re not fully immersed in this one facet of your life. 

We all need more resilience in our lives.  Being resilient allows us to adjust well when faced with trauma, big changes, stress, or life’s day-to-day speed bumps.  Remaining flexible will allow us to maintain our focus to best handle a situation.  This will allow us to remain steadfast and strong, reserving our energies to best solve our problems, instead of the difficult emotions that can arise when faced with change or uncomfortable situations.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? 

If you don’t have it, there’s hope.  We can improve our psychological strength to become more adaptable, flexible and resilient, so we can be stronger in times of change or difficulty.

To schedule an appointment with Simon Niblock, LMFT email or call (512) 470-6976.

Blog References:

Clement, S., Schauman, O., Graham, T., Maggioni, F., Evans-Lacko, S., Bezborodovs, N., Thornicroft, G. (2015). What is the impact of mental health-related stigma on help-seeking? A systematic review of quantitative and qualitative studies. Psychological Medicine, 45(1).

Mental Health America (2018) Mental Health for Men, Info Graphic. Accessed: 

Winerman, L. (2005) Helping Men Help Themselves. APA, Monitor on Psychology, June 2005, Vol 36, No. 6. 

World Health Organization (2018) Suicide Rates. Global Health Observatory (GHO) Data. Accessed:

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3 Things You Can do Right Now to Encourage Your Child's Resilience

Nguyen Nguyen/CC0

Nguyen Nguyen/CC0

Resilience is when we maintain healthy development despite our adversity. A quick google search of the definition brings up phrases like “elasticity,” “recover quickly from difficulties,” “return to previous form.” Perhaps those definitions are true to some degree, but when it comes to children and adolescents many adapt to their environment to sustain themselves, often engaging in unhealthy behaviors that allow them to survive in less than optimal conditions. One thing is for sure though, children never return to their previous form; they grow, evolve, learn and condition themselves to navigate life’s emotional difficulties.

The behavioral tools and coping skills they pick up along the way are a combination of healthy and unhealthy, effective and maladaptive, isolating and engaging, the list goes on. Our children are learning these behaviors from the vast expanse of their environments; peers, parents, siblings, social media, tv, video games, the person in the restaurant at the next table over.

True resiliency in children means they are able to weather the emotional ups and downs of life and continue to developmentally thrive. Resilient children do not always choose healthy ways of managing their emotions or anxieties, but they ARE managing them. As parents, caretakers and adults with vested interest in the emotional safety and well being of children we can all do three things right now to support and foster resiliency and emotional stability for children.

How to Build a Child's Resilience

1. Put your phone down.

Kids need to know that they are the priority over a work email or Facebook. They are taking their emotional cues from you, when you choose the phone over an interaction with them you miss an opportunity to remind them they are the most important thing in the room. Technology isn't going away, BUT YOUR KIDS EVENTUALLY WILL.

They will learn from everyone else in the world that cell phones and computers are important, your role as a parent is to ensure that your support will be given when they bring worries, concerns and questions from outside into the home. Stability supports resiliency.  BE the stable relationship in your child’s life that allows them to navigate their emotional landscape.

2. Provide consistency.

Consistency creates routine and predictability. Whether it’s the nighttime routine before bed, or the guaranteed Saturday afternoon with dad playing basketball, consistency creates a space for children to depend on. It is far easy for a child to handle the stress of a tough week at school when she knows on Thursday she will get some one on one time with her mom to talk about it. Consistency allows children and adolescents to “turn into the family” when they are having a hard time or needing support, as opposed to looking to outside influences to mitigate their stress and anxiety. Eat with your kids. Research shows it supports healthy eating patterns.

3. Talk to kids about how they feel.

Feeling is natural. No matter what, your kids will feel. But knowing how to put those feelings into words is a learned skill. Most children and adolescents walk, talk and act far more mature than their actual age. We need to remind ourselves that they are master imitators. Most children are not cognitively developed enough to fully understand and process their emotions. While it might seem that they understand what they are saying, they likely need help matching the correct words with their emotions. Anger is the easiest and most often expressed emotion in teens, it’s the most socially acceptable and accessible.

Anger is primal. It is about survival.  Anger goes hand in hand with many other emotions, and when given the language, space and opportunity to explore the other emotions can be very empowering. A safe environment for exploring emotions fosters self awareness, intrinsic validation and resiliency.

To schedule an appointment with Caroline Harris, LMFT-Associate, call 512-915-3063.

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