Resilience: Lessons from the School of Life

Resilience: Lessons from the School of Life

Evelina Dzimanavičiūtė

Evelina Dzimanavičiūtė is a brain-based consultant, therapist, and generative coach, using neuroscience to build resilience, improve performance and enhance wellbeing. She is a founder of Elite Mind and Elite Mind Academy.

We live in a world filled with change and uncertainty. While some people thrive and grow with challenges, others are struggling to cope under the same circumstances.

Have you ever wondered what makes the difference?

How can we develop this capacity for ourselves, and for our children?

My Story

As someone who had to start the new life in a foreign country, I understand the importance of being able to adapt to whatever life throws at us. I came to England in 2004, without speaking the language, having no money, and leaving family behind, to what was supposed to be a short summer holiday. Yet due to some unlucky circumstances, I was stuck here, without the option to return. No school education, no parenting lessons, no advice could have prepared me for what I was about to face…

The following years were full of sleepless nights and hard work, where I have battled through life building my career, learning the language, raising a child, studying for a degree and even volunteering for a charity supporting suicidal individuals.

It is there that it dawned on me – why do people react so differently to similar experiences? What is the difference between someone like me, who is determined to succeed against all odds, and other individuals that I ended up supporting, who seemed to have it all, yet they didn’t want to live?

I could not understand why people placed such different worth on their own existence, how their evaluation of the same experiences was coloured in myriads of contrasting shades.

For the first time, I felt lucky and grateful for being alive, while at the same time tormented by pain and sorrow that I had something those vulnerable individuals searched for in vain, yet I didn’t know what it was that I needed to give.

My feeling of hopelessness fuelled my curiosity to find what it was that could make the difference and kindled the different spark inside my heart to discover the reasons for this unfair disparity in individual resilience and such disparity in the strength of the mindset.

Digging into Behavioural Psychology, Neuroscience, and Interpersonal Neurobiology

I have embarked on a journey to research behavioural psychology, neuroscience, interpersonal neurobiology, and other disciplines that help to explain what shapes our character, habits and behaviours, physical and mental health and most importantly – the reason we respond so differently to our environment and the level of success that we are able to create in our lives and businesses despite adversity.

I have been testing my approaches and discoveries with the most successful leaders in business, helping them to push boundaries of what’s possible, as well as therapeutic practice with the most vulnerable individuals, helping them to feel better and make equal contributions to society.

So what makes the difference in individual resilience?

What makes the difference in individual resilience, and how do we tap into the best versions of ourselves when we need it most?

How can we develop this skill in ourselves, and in our children?

Over one and half decades of research and practical experimentations, I have discovered it all boils down to those key attributes:

  1. Our ability to self-regulate in response to external events, such as managing our levels of stress under pressure, controlling emotional overwhelm, impulses and cravings.
  2. Our ability to align our behaviour with relevant social situations, and navigate the labyrinth of complex relationships, the hierarchy of friendships, organisational politics, social norms and professional expectations.
  3. Our ability to achieve goals, targets, and maintain high performance without sacrificing your personal wellbeing, including physical and mental health.

It all starts with awareness

It all starts with awareness first – if we know better, we can do better. However, the internet today is overflowing with information, expert advice and blueprints for success.

But don’t be fooled. Knowing is not enough, we must apply. The problem is that while we think of ourselves as rational and intelligent human beings, in reality, we are driven by automatic habits, routines, impulses and subconscious processes.

So even though we know better, it is not easy to replace the fat slice of chocolate cake with kale and quinoa salad, and very easy to lay on the sofa in front of the TV with a glass of wine in our hand, instead of going for a run.

It is only by understanding our inner, subconscious drives and needs that we can learn to calm down our inner critics and build greater resilience.

The same applies to our work and business performance. Our brain is designed for survival, saving energy, and instant rewards, and not for hard work and deliberate effort.

So how do we overcome our primal impulses, reign those cravings, unhealthy habits, and emotional outbursts?

We don’t. We need to learn how to make it work for us, not against it.

So, what’s the solution?

It is only by understanding our inner, subconscious drives and needs that we can learn to calm down our inner critics and build greater resilience. This way, we can learn how to make the power of unconscious brain work for us, and not against us.