Change is truly the only constant in life and we can’t stop it or avoid it. But we can strengthen our resiliency to manage it.
Resilience helps us to bounce back from setbacks, recover from stress, and maintain a positive outlook even in difficult situations. It enables us to adapt to change, overcome obstacles, and pursue our goals and aspirations with determination and perseverance. Having resilience helps us to maintain our mental and emotional well-being and live a fulfilling life, even in the face of adversity. In short, resilience is a valuable and necessary quality for personal growth, success, and happiness.
The acceleration of change in our lives today is pretty mind-blowing. From technology to the way we interact with one another, it’s clear that there is no “normal” anymore; it’s just a precursor to the next change. But change has always been here and it’s always constant because that’s how anything, including us, grows or progresses. Frequently, change means agitation, however. Think of the pearl in the oyster or the caterpillar in its chrysalis. Change isn’t typically a smooth transition, and most people are somewhat averse to it. But since we can’t stop change or avoid it, we need resilience to deal with the challenges, stress, and adversity that arise with change and are a natural part of life.
While there are other things that can cause us agitation and stress in life, such as major life events, crises, and even failure; if we take a more mindful approach by developing resilience, we can recover quickly from these experiences.
So how can we develop resilience?
We can start by focusing on our strengths, rather than our flaws. Self-esteem increases our resilience so be kind to yourself and remind yourself of your strengths. What are your top five strengths? If you can’t think of any, take a moment to jot down a few questions and then reflect on them so that you can answer. What do you love to do? When we love to do something, we tend to do it frequently and well, so it could be a strength. Or, you can try contrast to get an answer. What do you hate to do? That will probably be a weakness but the opposite of it could be a strength. Once you identify your strengths, bring them to mind often, especially when facing a challenge.
Build or maintain a support system to help build your resilience. Surround yourself with supportive family, friends and community members who can help you cope with stress and adversity. If you don’t a have a support system, think about ways to develop one. Join a group based on a hobby or religion or an activity like exercising. Start connecting with others to find the people to join your system. Keep in mind, too, that a therapist or coach can be part of your support system, so consider adding to your network.
Practicing self-care, by engaging in activities that promote physical, mental and emotional well-being, such as exercise, meditation and proper nutrition also strengthens resilience. Engaging in regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help build physical resilience, which in turn can help build mental and emotional resilience. Meditation can strengthen mental and emotional resilience by developing neural patterns of calm and centeredness. It also promotes responding instead of reacting which can be quite effective when adversity strikes. Practice mindful eating so that your body has the nutrition it needs in order to feel good. If you’re full of sugar and caffeine, your resiliency markedly declines. Just as with not enough sleep, when you’re in a weakened state, your inner resources are too overloaded trying to repair the mess and your bounce-back factor won’t bounce very well.
Learning and practicing stress-management techniques, such as deep breathing and visualization can help us better cope with stress and bounce back faster. Emotional intelligence and particularly self-awareness are the foundation for effective stress management. Through self-awareness, we can recognize negative stress as soon as it starts. Mindfulness helps us re-regulate while strengthening our overall emotional intelligence.
Practicing gratitude and focusing on the good in life can help us maintain a positive perspective, even in tough times. Remember that our brain responds to whatever stimulus we provide it, so when something negative happens, we can switch the hormones the brain will release by shifting our focus out of stress and onto possibilities. Even when something really upsetting happens, we can ask ourselves, now what? There is always learning and growing from adversity, so focusing on what comes next is an opportunity to look for a potential positive that could result from the negative event. Neeta Bushan was recently on the podcast to talk about her new book, “That Sucked, Now What? How to Embrace the Joy in Chaos and Find Magic in the Mess,” which is full of good information on resiliency and steps you can take to boost yours. The audio podcast drops on Monday and the YouTube version soon after. You can also find a link to her book on our website.
Certain skills help build resilience, such as problem-solving. Even simple problems help, such as doing a puzzle, watching or reading a mystery or doing home repairs. You can also build your decision-making skills by practicing which in turn builds your resilience. You make a thousand decisions a day, so start recognizing them and fine-tune the decisions that don’t work out so well.
Keep things in perspective. How you think can play a significant part in how you feel—and how resilient you are when faced with obstacles. Try to identify areas of irrational thinking, such as a tendency to catastrophize difficulties or assume the world is out to get you, and adopt a more balanced and realistic thinking pattern. For instance, if you feel overwhelmed by a challenge, remind yourself that what happened to you isn’t an indicator of how your future will go, and that you’re not helpless. You may not be able to change a highly stressful event, but you can change how you interpret and respond to it.
Resilience is a skill that can be developed over time and it’s important to be patient and persistent in building it. We know we have challenges ahead, that not all of the changes that are coming are going to be to our benefit, and that much of life is beyond our control. Developing a skill that can help us bounce back quickly results in our ability to continue to enjoy life, despite whatever is occurring around us.
The pastor Charles Swindoll said, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
We can’t usually control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond. We can best respond to any situation when we are mindful and have strong resilience. None of us wants constant change, upsetting events or difficult challenges, but they’re going to happen because they’re part of life. Remember, resisting “what is” creates suffering. Wouldn’t you agree it’s better to be prepared for what’s coming and get through it in a healthy, effective way? Consider building your resilience skills today so that whatever tomorrow brings, you’ll be able to bounce back and continue to thrive in life.