Be Resilient

Apr 2020

There's growing evidence that the elements of resilience can be cultivated and I wholeheartedly believe that being resilient is within our own gift.

The world has been thrust into an extraordinarily challenging circumstance, but I believe humanity, YOU can prove that disasters can be overcome—and can more than anything, make you stronger.

Resilience is about getting through pain and disappointment without letting it crush your spirit. While it isn't always easy, research continues to uncover what resilient people do as they persist after the death of a loved one, a job loss, chronic or acute illness, or other setbacks.

For instance, do you attribute personal and professional setbacks solely to your own inadequacy—or are you able to identify contributing factors that are specific and temporary? Do you demand a perfect streak—or are you able to accept that life is a mix of losses and wins? In each case, the latter quality has been tied to greater levels of resilience.

Stories of ordinary people thrust into extraordinarily challenging circumstances prove that disasters can be overcome—and can even make one stronger.

I put myself in this category, ten years ago I was thrust into a challenging circumstance and came out of it stronger. For me, I grew as a person, I became more patient, more kind and more giving. Ten years ago, I lost nearly everything, I was left with a number of suitcases, holding my 7-year old sons’ hand as everything I had was taken away from me. At that time, I didn’t have a lot of space to reflect as I was in full blown sink or swim mode.

I lost my home and business of seven years, all through a very unpleasant divorce, and the parting gift I received was a £97k debt that wasn’t fully mine to pay back. In all of this trauma, I didn't realise at the time, that I had also lost myself. Don't get me wrong, I was functioning, but upon reflection now, I would say ‘just’ functioning. When my whole world had been turned upside down, I chose to swim and with a tide of determination, I kept going until I could get a firm footing back on dry land.

Today, I am faced with a similar challenge, one that is threatening my business, but this time the challenge is not just happening to me, it’s happening to us all. I've spent this last week really exploring deep within me, on how I'm going to manage myself so I don’t fall into the same pitfalls I did all them years ago.

We are all experiencing what’s happening to us differently, but I hope by me sharing my learnings which are now my promises to myself, will inspire you to create your own.

1.Change the narrative – stop feeling like a victim. I'm not going to fall into the trap of ‘what about me’ and feeling sorry for myself like I did then. I've changed my narrative. I know this situation is out of my control and so instead of worrying and getting stressed I am going to surrender to the situation and allow what happens, happen. That's all I can control. Understanding what you can and can not control has given me a different narrative.

2.Face my fear – my fear was very present then and again last week. My fear is about the responsibility - I have to provide for my team, the fear of not being able to do that, was very loud. But I have chosen to face that fear, I shared my fears with the team, which allowed me to express it and instead of getting caught up in the drama of fear - ‘the what if’s’. I have chosen to trust in myself and the team, knowing, that we are all resourceful and creative and if we can pull together then fear does not need to be present.

3.Practice self compassion – This was harder then than it is now. Then, I was very judgemental of myself, my failings, my shortcomings, 'I should have done things differently' the critical voice thundered above and within me. However, I decided over the years to let the critical companion go, she was a friend who was not serving me very well, so she no longer resides within me. Don't get me wrong I still have moments of doubt, but when these arise, I choose to be kind to myself, I will take some time out, do yoga, go for a run and instead of beating myself up or judging myself, I say quietly and compassionately, “Gillian, You can do this”

4.Meditate daily – this is the greatest gift I have ever given myself, the beauty and joy of quietening the mind and moving from activity into silence has been life-supporting. So, when I need to move from activity (external) and go within (internal) I can re-ground, reconnect and just be. This is where my true self resides and when in this space I know I have come home.

5.Cultivate forgiveness – this was the hardest of all my promises to master. It took me a long time to even consider forgiveness to those who hurt me, questioned my integrity all them years ago, for those who scrutinised how much money I was spending on women’s hygiene a month (the debt collectors) and for those who ignored me and at times laughed at me in the street when I walked by (past friends and employees). But when I paid the £97K off I felt a sense of pride for myself, for how I had risen above it and through adversity I managed to honour what needed to be honoured. My integrity was intact and so in that moment I choose to forgive myself. After that it was easy to forgive others. Cultivating forgiveness, requires you to forgive yourself first, which creates space to forgive others.

As we are all faced with adversity, I invite you to create your own promises on how you are going to be in these times and beyond. So, you can, even though, you have been thrust into extraordinarily challenging circumstances you can overcome them, you can adapt and more than anything, you can come out stronger.