The Growth Zone of Resilience

We all face challenges, however major or minor. Challenges are seen as a way of life; no one is devoid of it. Whatever be the situation, challenges can be overwhelming because of the crisis and setbacks it brings. It tests our ability to persevere and come out resilient. Sometimes they come unexpected and leave us with a sense of no control, and sometimes we take it upon ourselves.

According to the Learning Zone Model (Senninger, 2000), we should perceive these challenges, regardless of them being unexpected or being taken upon by choice, as opportunities to learn and develop. In this model, the comfort zone is the place in which we are comfortable, we avoid risks, and we create a safe haven for us. Just outside the comfort zone is the learning zone, where we learn and grow, make new discoveries, and emerge out of the challenge as resilient.

This ability to perceive challenges as opportunities to learn and develop and enjoying the challenging experience is known as Challenge Orientation. Measured by the Resilience Questionnaire™, it is a psychological orientation where individuals interpret difficult experiences as meaningful challenges. This attitude further compels individuals to seek experiences that stretch their capabilities with the aim of self-development and growth.

The characteristics of those who demonstrate high levels of challenge orientation are:

  • Viewing difficult tasks as challenges to overcome
  • Seeking out tasks they define as challenges
  • Viewing challenges as opportunities to learn
  • Enjoying dealing with novel problems and situations
  • Using difficult situations to test their capabilities and limits

When we want to achieve a physical feat and experience physical challenges, we repeatedly engage in that task and hence develop our endurance. Likewise, dealing with psychological challenges requires repeated practice, efforts, and time. To develop our positive orientation towards challenges, we should:

  • Reflect on those difficult times, which led us to know more about ourselves.
  • Willingly take on tasks that you know will put you out of your comfort zone.
  • Make mistakes and consider them and as a method of learning.
  • Reframe challenges. When in challenging situations, identify key experiences/skills that you will acquire once you overcome the situation and how it will help you become resilient.

It is important to face challenges to the extent that they will help us grow and develop. We must take caution taking on too much, too frequently as it may lower our motivations overtime if the challenges do not seem challenging enough.

Challenge and adversity are meant to help you know who you are. Storms hit your weakness but unlock your true strength.

– Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

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