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How to build resilience and reframe negative situations

“If Tiwa can do it, I can do it!”

These were some of the words of encouragement that we heard from Tiwa Ogunlesi during the incredibly engaging and inspiring talk that she gave at the Triangirls x Confident and Killing It event in November. Just as it was for many of us, the start of 2020 was tough on Tiwa. She spoke about how staying positive and resilient helped her overcome her challenges and gave us lots of helpful advice on how we could do the same.

“What if challenges are here to grow you, not break you?”

Tiwa is an incredibly charismatic and engaging speaker. Her positive energy really shone throughout the talk and it was evident that she is someone who lives by what she teaches. Tiwa began by asking us to reframe the stories that we tell ourselves about our failures and to see setbacks as launchpads to success. She reminded us that failures are a natural part of our journeys and are not our identities. They have a start date and an end-date, and if we see them as moments in time or as part of the process, we can begin to move past them.

The science of well-being

Tiwa taught us about the 5 pillars of well-being:

  • Positivity
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishment

This is also known as the PERMA model of well-being. The basic premise of this model is that you may feel happier and more fulfilled when you give time and are intentional about each of these pillars. A way to work on the pillar of the relationship might be to invest more time in your relationships by scheduling non-work check-ins. This could help you feel more connected and supported, and ultimately, happier. A way to work on the accomplishments pillar might be to keep a track of your wins and to celebrate your achievements. Ultimately, each one of us will work on these pillars differently and to varying degrees, but setting aside some time to focus on them regularly will help us feel more positive as a result.

Busting 3 common myths of happiness

Perhaps the most helpful segment of the event for me was when Tiwa helped us challenge 3 common myths and beliefs we hold about happiness:

1. The myth that emotions are a sign of weakness.

Emotions are, in fact, simply energy in motion, and not an indicator of strength or weakness. Tiwa reminded us that both positive and negative emotions are healthy. The important thing is to not get stuck.

2. The myth that happiness comes after success.

Putting your happiness after a goal post is risky since goalposts are always shifting and changing. You need happiness in order to be successful, and not the other way around.

3. The myth that how you feel is who you are.

This is a challenging one for many of us, however, Tiwa reminded us that how you feel and what happens to you are two very different things and not part of your identity. It’s important to avoid internalising setbacks or failures and the negative feelings associated with them, as we are not defined by our circumstances.

Live in the realm of positivity

One of the key takeaways from the session for me was that resilience is something that is built by choosing positivity and always looking for a way forward. You may not be able to control the situation, but you can always control how you respond to it.

Tiwa wrapped up the event by reminding us once again to live in the realm of positivity and hope and said that if nothing else, we should quote her on, and remember this:

“Your worth is intrinsic. You matter simply because you exist.”

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Triangirls is a community for women and non-binary people who work in Tech. The community and events are run voluntarily by Rachael Grocott, Liz Hamburger and Liv Denyer and Katrina Dargel.

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Radhika Ankulkar

Radhika Ankulkar

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