BECOME RESILIENT: How to mentally configure the three basic human needs of safety, satisfaction, and connectedness

This article is part of a collaborative effort to shed light on the critically important topic of resilience. Three perspectives, however, revealing common patterns of the concept and approaches to become more resilient. You can read the original collaborative post on Patty’s Blog featuring the skilled helpers listed below: https://pattywolters.com/blog/2020/12/24/resilience-skilled-helpers-collaborative/

Full article by Mathias Sager (Psychology & Art)

BECOME RESILIENT: How to mentally configure the three basic human needs of safety, satisfaction, and connectedness

Inspiration and wholeness in nature (Rigi, Switzerland)

“Resilience is a process reflecting positive adaptation in the face of adversity” [1, p. 1]. What adversity means to different people depends on individual, socio-cultural, and contextual circumstances.

The Big Five or five-factor personality assessment model (FFM) was found to be able to depict the concept of resiliency as a personality aspect as accurately as specific resiliency measurement tools [2]. Personality traits described and assessed with the five-factor model [3] consist of five mostly independent personality trait dimensions, i.e.,

  • extraversion,
  • conscientiousness,
  • agreeableness,
  • neuroticism, and
  • openness to experience [4].

A resilient personality is characterized by high scores on the FFM dimensions of extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness to experience, and low scores in neuroticism [5]. Openness to experience seems to be particularly important; it should be seen as’ openness to cultural diversity’ too [6], including the ability to regulate one’s emotions [7] and to avoid extensive sensation seeking, which, for example, bears the risk of substance abuse [6]. Equipped with such personal abilities, the rapid (global) changes in our times [8] caused by ever novel, complex, and changing socio-economical, environmental, technological, and health-related factors [9] can be met with higher resilience.

Other psychological concepts related to coping with adversity are the so-called ‘tolerance for ambiguity’ and ‘tolerance for uncertainty’ measures. These abilities are closely linked to mindfulness. For example, people educated in open-mindedness and who have learned to tolerate ambiguity can better persevere in their tolerance even in situations of insecurity and danger [10]. In that context, hope as related to resilience is enabling individuals to imagine a better future and to endure the present despite the uncertainty for such an achievement [11]. However, it’s not done with hope alone. A strong belief in and an identification with the possibility of achievement are the drivers for the work ethic that required for the realization of the hope. That way, in a first step, the promotion of hope might be a useful approach to reduce uncertainty intolerance and consequently to increase the tolerance for ambiguity for a more open-mindedness that leaves room for thoughtful and empathic decisions that lead to work towards desired and desirable outcomes.

Yes, a major outcome of resilience is empathy. It’s not threats themselves, but how people can resiliently respond to them. If there is no openness to decipher ambiguous, uncertain information, one risks to take the shortcut of, for example, stereotyping and promote black-and-white thinking that is further hindering an open mindset. A vicious spiral, indeed!

Maslow (1968) made the point that we are oriented toward either growth or safety in our everyday lives and that a growth orientation is more favorable for psychological health and well-being [12]. When self-protection (needs) get reduced, self-awareness can arise and facilitate the appreciation of multiple possibilities in situations, which might be the stage of personal development where tolerance for ambiguity as the capacity to accept paradoxes starts to become feasible [13]. Systems of mass conformity, authoritarianism, and nationalism/racism (as well as an emotional attachment to materialism in general) are offered as a means for safety, unfortunately at the cost of growth possibilities through autonomy, creativity, and the use of reason.

Unfortunately, “dealing with ambiguity, respectively the ability to cope with adversity (resilience) is seldom taught, but individuals striving for higher qualities tend to understand that uncertainty is the gateway to opportunity” [14, p. 30]. Therefore, societies should prepare the next generation for life, and it will be crucial how we instill hope and support our children to live constructively with uncertainties while retaining a high tolerance for ambiguity and open-mindedness as required to be truly resilient and find the solutions sought for the benefit of all [15].

Practically spoken, to get more resilient, one needs to be ready to adapt her/his belief system. Unfortunately, our ‘stable identity’ obsessed ego causes us to not like change. Nevertheless, as long as there is a fear of loss, there will always be defense mechanisms that hamper open-mindedness, and as a result, resilience too. There is good news, though, to adopt a resilient belief system, the three basic human needs of (1) safety, (2) satisfaction, and (3) connectedness don’t need to be abandoned, while it is essential to think about their socio-temporal ‘configuration’, which I call Awareness Intelligence:

  1. Access your spiritual source, your intuition, free from social conditioning, and as close to the source of life that has brought you here. You are part of the intelligent universe independent of your upbringing; what else could be safer.
  2. Meet others in the here and now openly, without past judgments and future expectations. Such non-transactional and unconditional love brings the highest satisfaction.
  3. Expand from separateness to wholeness. The future isn’t about physical survival as long as possible; it is about meaning and connecting to the whole humanity (even future generations) and our soul during a lifetime. With such a connectedness, future worries dissolve.

Resources:

[1] Kelly, Y., Fitzgerald, A., & Dooley, B. (2017). Validation of the Resilience Scale for Adolescents (READ) in Ireland: a multi-group analysis. International Journal Of Methods In Psychiatric Research, 26(2).

[2] Waaktaar, T., & Torgersen, S. (2010). How resilient are resilience scales? The Big Five scales outperform resilience scales in predicting adjustment in adolescents. Scandinavian Journal Of Psychology, 51(2), 157-163.

[3] Howell, G. T., & Zelenski, J. M. (2017). Personality self-concept affects processing of trait adjectives in the self-reference memory paradigm. Journal of Research in Personality, 66, 1-   13.

[4] McCrea, R. R., & Costa, P. T. (1987). Validation of the five-factor model of personality across instruments and observers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 81–90.

[5] Lazaridou, A., & Beka, A. (2015). Personality and resilience characteristics of Greek primary school principals. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 43(5), 772-791.

[6] Morizot, J. (2014). Construct Validity of Adolescents’ Self-Reported Big Five Personality Traits: Importance of Conceptual Breadth and Initial Validation of a Short Measure. Assessment, 21(5), 580-606.

[7] Shaw, P. s. (2016). Commentary: Mapping the young, resilient brain -reflections on Burt et al. (2016). Journal Of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 57(12), 1465-1466.

[8] Brendel, W. )., Hankerson, S. )., Byun, S. )., & Cunningham, B. ). (2016). Cultivating leadership Dharma: Measuring the impact of regular mindfulness practice on creativity, resilience, tolerance for ambiguity, anxiety and stress. Journal Of Management Development, 35(8), 1056-1078.

[9] Herman, J. L., Stevens, M. J., Bird, A., Mendenhall, M., & Oddou, G. (2010). The tolerance for ambiguity scale: Towards a more refined measure for international management research. International Journal Of Intercultural Relations, 34(1), 58-65.

[10] Bright, L. K., & Mahdi, G. S. (2012). U.S./Arab Reflections on Our Tolerance for Ambiguity. Adult Learning, 23(2), 86-89.

[11] Wilson, M. J., & Arvanitakis, J. (2013). The Resilience Complex. M/C Journal, 16(5), 17.

[12] Maslow, A. H. (1968). Toward a Psychology of Being. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

[13] Hartman, D., & Zimberoff, D. (2008). Higher Stages of Human Development. Journal Of Heart- Centered Therapies, 11(2), 3-95.

[14] Shullman, S. L., & White, R. P. (2012). Build Leadership’s Tolerance for Ambiguity. Chief Learning Officer, 11(10), 30-33.

[15] Einwanger, J. (2014). Wie riskant ist Sicherheit? (German). Pädiatrie & Pädologie, 49(4), 33.

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About mathias sager

PSYCHOLOGIST and Independent Researcher I'm born in Zurich and grew up in Switzerland. For many years I lived in Tokyo, and also in Pune/India. I'm passionate about developing human potential, which is an overarching theme throughout all my work that is based on research and supported by intuition and art. Through teaching, counseling, and leading indivuals and teams around the world my goal is to inspire with interdisciplinary, innovative, and cross-cultural approaches to personal and professional development for individual well-being and the common good alike. Happy if you reach me on www.mathias-sager.com, connect on social media, or email directly to goodthings@mathias-sager.com. Developing human potential is my passion! - Independent Awareness Intelligence Research (mathias sager - Psychology, global) - MSc in Psychology (University of Liverpool) - Postgraduate in Conflict Management, Leadership and Crisis Communication (University of Applied Sciences Winterthur, Switzerland) - Executive Master in Business Administration (EMBA, iimt Fribourg, Switzerland) - Bachelor in Education Sciences (Switzerland)
  • Mathias, I consider myself to be resilient and am a fairly dedicated introvert. I have never read a kind or encouraging word about myself (as an introvert) in a psychology article. I’d love to know why psychology is so against introverts… I would like to argue that my introversion is linked to the ability to be introspective, mindful, and to create a space to be curious instead of reactive. But maybe I am deluded?

    • mathias sager says:

      Hi Rowena. You make an excellent point. That’s why I don’t like these simplified black-and-white personality assessments, although they may sometimes be useful as a discussion starting point. People are never either x or y, but in between ranges of extremes such as described with, for example, extraversion and introversion. And you are right; introverts prefer to reflect before acting and tend to be more independent (critical thinkers), which I think is of great value! However, today’s (especially Westerner societies) seem to value extraverted traits as a matter of their (commercial?) culture. Sometimes, though, extraversion/introversion are falsely identified as success factors; there might be other factors at play as, for example, contextual and situational factors are often more influential. Because people socially compare, the happiest people are the ones who adapt to the predominant and average personality type present in a given culture. Therefore, I understand that introverts often don’t feel valued. Wrongly!!! Our society of loud social media etc., is in significant need of introvert qualities. There is research about that, and a good reading could be the best-selling book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain.

      Summary of ‘The book that started the Quiet Revolution’

      At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.

      In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

      Thanks for your valuable comment, and all the best
      Mathias