Paula Barrett is an expert when it comes to building resilience to help navigate life’s ups and downs.
As a scholar and groundbreaking researcher in the field of psychology and resilience, she has been internationally recognised in the top 1 per cent of global publishers within her field and has received many awards throughout her career – including the Highly Commended Certificate in the Human Rights Medal of the Australian Human Rights Commission for her contribution to the well being of children, youth and the wider community.
This makes Paula Barrett the perfect keynote speaker for The Lady Musgrave Trust’s 2019 Forum on Women and Homelessness.
Why is resilience so important? Barrett says it acts as a foundation in our lives.
“There are always challenges throughout life that everyone has to be able to learn to cope with and continue to move forward and confidently embrace life opportunities, despite what has happened in the past,” she says.
“Whether that’s a challenge in the family, a career setback, an illness, a natural disaster or an unpredictable traumatic event, there are always life situations where we need to rise up and be strong.
“That means learning how to cope in positive ways and also finding support networks and developing healthy coping mechanisms.”
Barrett says that resilience “is really a collection of life skills”.
“It’s like building a reservoir of life skills so that you can approach challenges in a positive, confident way.”
And empowerment is key, she says.
“I really believe in empowering people with skills so they can have a stronger approach, more self-confidence, be healthier and have an enhanced sense of wellbeing – people from all sectors of society deserve this,” Barrett says.
“Some people are born more resilient than others, but we can all learn as a population to be more resilient.
“Just like we can learn to be better and stronger at any other skill, like swimming or singing, we can all learn resilience independent of age, cultural background, gender and other factors.”
Barrett says some of the most important skills to learn include developing and understanding emotions and feelings – learning how to self regulate and self soothe, developing empathy and compassion, and understanding emotions in others.
“It’s important to learn to pay attention to the five senses and the positive aspects of life around us,” she says.
“It’s equally important to learn to be able to adapt our thinking – about ourselves, others and our environment – from negative to positive.
“And there’s the capacity to be present, and mindful.
“Building resilience is a lifelong pursuit, but one that we can choose to learn at any stage in our lives.”
Paula Barrett is a keynote speaker at the The 11th Annual Forum on Women and Homelessness, which will explore themes around building resilience, surviving and thriving, in Brisbane on Wednesday 7 August, 2019.