Personal Resilience – I Am Not A Paper Cup!


Simon Hares - SerialTrainer7

Personal Resilience – I Am Not A Paper Cup!


Have you seen one of these cups for sale? They look like paper cups, but scream out loud that they are not paper cups. Who knew paper cups had such a stigma attached to them in the crockery and beverage world? Furthermore who new china cups had insecurities about being judged as a paper cup? Wow. I Need to be a bit more sensitive around the crockery at home now, and do not get me started on the cutlery…plastic cutlery vs metal cutlery, what about the humble spork?

I was talking to a Personal Trainer this morning who had one of these cups and it got me thinking about perception and more importantly personal resilience. What is ‘resilience’? Well, according to an online dictionary, it is defined as ‘the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity’ in another ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness’.

In certain situations, people look at people and make assumptions and judgements based on all sorts of things, the way we look, the way we talk, our opinions, the list goes on. This is their ‘perception’. There are times when they get it right, but often it is misplaced and leads the recipient to feel a little knocked back, insecure and not as strong as they might hope to be. Resulting in their personal resilience not springing-back quite so quickly.
In the same way that upon first glance, this cup looks like it is made of paper, therefore it will behave the same way won’t it? If we were this cup, people would think, not very strong, easily crushed, disposable, not worth much. But how wrong is this? Poor little cup.

Our levels of resilience vary dramatically from person to person, and we can adapt this resilience to situations too. We feel more resilient where we are most comfortable and vice versa. The question is…

How do we develop personal resilience?

The obvious answer maybe in developing our assertiveness, it would make sense as the more assertive we feel, the more assured we become and this can lead us being perceived as an authority. Three ‘A’ words there for you. Assured, Assertive and Authoritative. They can work back the other way too. If you are an authority on a subject, then that makes you more assured, presenting a more assertive image, therefore, altering people’s perception of you. So, back to that non-paper cup. Upon first glance, It looks like a paper cup, it can do pretty much everything a paper cup can do, yet it isn’t a paper cup, it is something else, it is made of another substance, something that on the surface may not be seen, but once in the hand of the recipient the difference is very clear indeed.

Being able to present yourself in certain situations can change people’s perception of you dramatically, so in order to be in a situation where you can present yourself, you need to hunt them out.

Socially – find new groups of people to talk to, brush up on your small talk (you might want to read my other blog ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Talk’ for lots of tips) and show them a different side

Social Situations – seek out different situations than those you are used too. Instead of going to a pub or club, go to a gallery or a museum, or if that is too much a jump, try a different pub or club

Meetings – at work try to attend meetings where you know you can have a chance to express your authority on a subject, make it an agenda item and prepare for it. You might be surprised how this can make you feel

Networking – Be strong, and stride up to people and introduce yourself, forcing the perception reaction from them and ‘feed it’ with all of your good stuff

Become a Mentor – take your expertise and use it to help other people, this will boost your confidence no end, it takes a bit more work, however it is worth it, and so are you.

Family Situations – As this is usually a comfort zone, it can be easier to deal with, however this comfort can easily escalate into something more. Sit down with the person or people involved. Recap what has been said and the impact it had. Avoid phrases like ‘you made me feel XXX way‘ no one can make you feel anything, you choose to feel that way as a result of other peoples behaviour. Instead as questions such as ‘why did you choose those words?’ “how did you come to that conclusion?”  it will stimulate more of a discussion rather than creating challenge.

How do I repair my ‘resilience’?

Even the most confident person can take a knock, but their ability to bounce back depends on their own beliefs. Resilience can be repaired with a special type of ‘ emotional glue’. This glue comes in two strengths; ‘choice’ and ‘control’.


Choice – This strength of glue is most suitable for those people whose resilience has been dented at a personal level. It is applied generously to the damaged area and works by demanding that you make a simple choice. “Do I want to choose to let this person affect me this way?” “Am I going to let them have that much power over me so that I doubt myself?” “Do I choose to be a stronger person and move on through this?” “Can I prove to myself and to them that I am not what they see?” the answers to these questions are either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and should help repair some if not all of the damage. However in certain cases the other more powerful strength ‘glue’ is required that is called…

Control – This is the maximum strength and should be applied sparingly to affected areas, as it works very well with the ‘choice’ strength. It is also the first choice of ‘glue’ when put into a situation that is procedural or where there is a third party such as senior management issues going on. This works by creating a fight or flight response based on the answer to a specific question. “Do I have control over this persons perception of me, the situation or the process and can I control it in order to change it?”
If the answer is ‘yes’ then identify the choices you have in front of you in order to make that happen. Start small, if it is more comfortable, or go in big, to make an impact for an immediate change. Be mindful to not compromise or damage the other persons resilience that is not healthy.
If the answer is ‘no’, the simply move on. Learn to say, “It doesn’t matter.” “Let it go.” “Walk away and move on.” After all you, yes you, cannot control it, so why try. Time will do the rest. Time to reflect on the situation, learn from it and either avoid it so it doesn’t happen again, or face it with a new approach, one that is more resilient.

The ‘glue’ will dry in a short time and ‘resilience’ will be restored. You see it is all down to another simple choice. Ask yourself; Are you a paper cup, or are you not a paper cup? tThe choice is yours, and so too, will be the resulting outcomes.

This blog forms part of the content of a new training course for businesses called ‘Improving Employee and Personal Resilience’ if you would like more information on this course and how it can work in your company then email

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