Another crazy weather week! Amazing pictures from the US throughout the week, especially the frozen Niagara Falls and headlines of – literally – Hell freezing over; Hell Michigan that is. Meanwhile more flood misery with heavy rains and violent tidal surges affected thousands here in the UK, causing widespread damage and much personal pain… and more is yet to come we’re being told.
With all this gloom and controversies around flood prevention measures running high it is interesting to note that the Guardian ran an article on how floods are not all uniformly bad, how there is a silver lining (even if somewhat thin) to be had in all of this. I’d like to pick up on this at the close of this week.
Finding the positive side in any situation, no matter how grim and hopeless it might at first appear, is a huge skill and a massively important part of what resilience means. And that, increasingly, is what it’s all about. But what exactly does ‘resilience’ mean? One definition holds that ‘resilience’ is the capacity to cope effectively in stressful situations or adversity. There are a number of core capacities that play role and these are, according to the APA1:
- (a) self-awareness: identifying one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, and patterns in each that are counterproductive
- (b) self-regulation: the ability to regulate impulses, thinking, emotions, and behaviours to achieve goals, as well as the willingness and ability to express emotions;
- (c) optimism: noticing the goodness in self and others, identifying what is controllable, remaining wedded to reality, and challenging counterproductive beliefs
- (d) mental agility: thinking flexibly and accurately, perspective taking, and willingness to try new strategies
- (e) character strengths: identifying the top strengths in oneself and others, relying on one’s strengths to overcome challenges and meet goals, and cultivating a strength approach in one’s group; and
- (f) connection: building strong relationships through positive and effective communication, empathy, willingness to ask for help, and willingness to offer help
That’s a lot – complex and interesting stuff! Plenty of material there for me to write about in small doses as we go into this near year talking about Emergency Preparedness and Resilience.
You will have noticed that I’ve highlighted ‘OPTIMISM’ in the above list and will have read its description – a very far cry from the rose-tinted and rather blind optimism you might have come across elsewhere. The aim here is not to gloss over reality but rather a bit of a case of thorough #SherlockLives -style analysis and a much wider appraisal that eventually will help towards finding new strength and direction.
So, back to the Guardian and the good side of our #UKFloods. I encourage you read the full article but in a nutshell, here it is:
- UK wind industry had its best-ever period, setting daily, weekly and monthly records
- heavy rains across Britain have left the water supply industry smiling, reservoirs are full
- environment: floods and storms are important natural phenomena that help the natural environment, i.e. clear clean river gravels of silt, encouraging fish migration; some plants depend on strong winds to spread their seeds further afield…
- wildlife: burrowing animals breed best when soggy ground makes their holes easy to dig; record numbers of wading birds..
And for us? The wild weather has been an excellent stick for environment groups and scientists to beat government with as well as raise awareness generally. Charles Tucker, chair of the National Flood Forum, nicely summed it up: “With joined-up thinking, you invest in communities to develop resilience and prepare for future flooding. You invest in a national effort, requiring the agencies responsible for flood risk management to work with local people, equipping them to tackle local flooding problems. You give local communities the tools to find solutions themselves.” Highlights by me.
In the end, it’s also all up to us – individually as well as part of a community! Have a great weekend.
1APA – American Psychological Association
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