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Toxic Resilience

Updated: Feb 14

Have you experienced it?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, where the line needs to be drawn on resilience. 

Yes we need individuals and teams that can persist, push through the hard times, roll with the punches and, well, be resilient. 

But what happens when you’re resilient for a long time? Or it becomes a stick you’re beating yourself with? 

Staff absence from work due to poor mental health is at a record high.

I can think of clients who felt their organisations used resilience to make them work beyond their capacity, stay late, stress about work, which impacted their personal lives, health, and in some cases lead to addiction, insomnia, depression and burnout. 

Lately the term toxic resilience has come to my attention and I think it describes this phenomena pretty well. 

Toxic resilience forces us to employ unhealthy coping mechanisms, and assume a façade of strength whilst suppressing our real emotions at the expense of our mental wellbeing.

Not everyone is in a working environment where they feel they can speak out. Some are afraid of losing their jobs, or not being seen to be ‘up to it’ or even ‘past it’. The job that used to exhilarate you now exhausts you, and there seems to be no way to step back. 

If this is you, then something needs to give: a conversation with your boss, some training for the team, a change in role or even job, a break to reset and reconsider, an organisational change such as extra headcount or role definition. If that feels difficult, think of the consequences if nothing changes vs you begin to make a change.

Are you able to be vulnerable at work, to express how you feel? If not, think about what effect that mindset is having on you and the people around you. Can you challenge outdated notions to create discussion and change?

What can you do to bolster your mental health in the meantime, what things or practices make you feel satisfied, alive, happy - that recharge your battery? How can you get them into your life / working day more regularly? Where have your boundaries overstepped and how can you re-set them?

I help people reset their sympathetic (flight/fight) system, calm racing minds, make adjustments to their lives, find a way forward where they feel back in control.

If you want help finding your way out of a situation where you’re experiencing toxic resilience, or you feel the organisation you work for might benefit from some mental fitness training / help with toxic resilience culture, do get in touch. I would be happy to help. 


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