Resilience is not some magical quality; it takes real mental work to transcend hardship or challenge. But even after misfortune, those who are resilient can change course and move toward achieving their goals.
There's growing evidence that the elements of resilience can be cultivated, and I wholeheartedly believe that being resilient is within our own gift. It is a mindset that we can manage if we choose to.
On a regular basis we are thrust into situations that take us out of or comfort zones, these situations can be challenging, uncomfortable and leave us feeling a little confused and even lost. Sometimes they can overwhelm you, paralyse you, make you want to give up, throw the duvet cover over your head and hope when you do decide to get out of bed that all will be different.
But we all have it within us, no matter the circumstance and no matter how challenging YOU can overcome whatever you are faced with, the situations or circumstances you experience will also make you stronger.
So, What is resilience?
‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness’
Adversity is a fact of life. Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise.
Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make a person resilient, such as a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see challenges as a form of helpful feedback. Research shows that optimism helps blunt the impact of stress on the mind and body in the wake of disturbing experiences. And that gives people access to their own cognitive resources, enabling cool-headed analysis of what might have gone wrong and consideration of behavioural paths that might be more productive.
How to bounce back?
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, 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. Twelve years ago, I lost nearly everything, I was left with a number of suitcases, holding my 6-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, business, marriage all within the space of a six-month period.
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 with determination and a can-do mindset. I dug deep and pulled out everything I had, my inner strength, belief in myself and even when I didn’t want to face the world, I got myself up out of bed and pushed through.
Here are my promises I put in place to help me build my resilience.
1.Change the narrative – it’s very easy to feel like a victim. The key is to not fall in the trap, of why me! We can at any time change our story, but when feeling overwhelmed it’s not always easy – so the best thing to do is stay out of the emotional drama as possible. Resilience requires you to look at things pragmatically, to not feel sorry for yourself, and instead be practical. It’s important you bring in a can-do narrative rather than I can’t do. We are the authors of our own story, so at any time, you can turn over the page and start a new chapter. You can choose to be the hero in your story whenever you want. You may not fully to be able to control the situation but can be in control of how you respond to it – this is within your gift!
2.Face Your Fear – Susan Jeffers said ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway!’ Fear is a state of mind and is held in the mind. Now at times fear will be very present and can hold you prisoner. But if you lean into the fear, you will find that the fear is not as scary as you initially thought. A good way of facing the fear is to acknowledge it. Share how you are feeling with others; expressing the fear instead of getting caught up with the ‘what if’s’ in the mind, means you can rationalise how you feel – you can then acknowledge you are resourceful and creative, and you can find a way forward. All it takes in one single step to break the cycle of fear.
3.Practice self-compassion – This can be harder if you have a narrative of I’m no good or not worthy. I I was very judgemental of myself for years, for my failings, my shortcomings, 'I should have done things differently' the critical voice thundered above and within me. But when I started to change my narrative, I made a decision to let my critical companion go, she was a friend who was not serving me very well, so every time I went to critizse myself I turned it around and replaced it with words of compassion and kindness. This was hard at the start to do consistently, but now I treat myself like I would my best friend and give myself the compassion and love I deserve. So whenever you go to say something mean to yourself, turn it around and give yourself some love and compassion instead!
4.Meditate daily – Meditation has been proven to quieten the mind, reduce stress, build resilience, and improve overall wellness and balance to life. The beauty and joy of quietening the mind and moving from activity into silence is life-supporting and life-enhancing. Meditation will ground you, and that why we practice together after each lesson. It’s grounding and give you the opportunity to reconnect and just be. This is where your true self resides and when in this space you know you have come home.
5.Cultivate forgiveness –Forgiveness is a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or anger to others or yourself. When you forgive you don't gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offense – forgiveness does not mean forgetting, but forgiveness can help repair the damaged relationship you have with yourself or others. Being the forgiver can bring peace of mind, and give you a sense of freedom and empowerment. Cultivating forgiveness, requires you to forgive yourself first, which creates space for you to forgive others. So, start with yourself and take time to honour you and then give yourself permission to forgive yourself.