Adversity, tragedy, loss, rejection, trauma, stress … living a life free of negatives such as these is entirely impossible. Yet, despite it all, we hear sayings such as ‘life goes on.’ While it may be true that life, itself does indeed go on, most people may not find going through life all that easy. Psychologists have coined the word RESILIENCE to describe the characteristic that creates the fiber, we, as humans have to be able to deal with the curve balls life throws our way and come through to the other side. Resilience is the elasticity that keeps us bouncing back in the face of adversity and negativity. We can find resilience in disadvantaged young children who survive abusive or neglectful upbringings and still manage to become productive, contributing members of society. We can find it in people who deal with chronic illness or experience severe setbacks. And we see it with elderly people who choose to push beyond the physical components of aging, and work tirelessly to share their life’s knowledge and experience with others and to contribute to society selflessly.
Now that we’ve clearly identified resilience, it is something that many of us would like to develop more of in our lives. Below are ten tried and true ways to do just that.
• 1. Self Care 101: Nothing can stand strong on a weak foundation. In order to even consider building resilience, we need to first learn and maintain a sound routine of self-care. Exercise and proper nutrition for our physical self-care, find and do things you enjoy for your emotional well-being, and learn to relax, refresh and reinvigorate regularly.
• 2. Connect – connect – connect: Build your supports and you build your resilience. We all are faced with times in our lives when being able to bounce things off people who have our best interest at heart and truly want to see us succeed is a sure way to keep us handling the rough spots in our lives and help us get through to the other side.
• 3. Face adversity squarely: Disappointments, setbacks and other types of adversity are unavoidable. Learning to face it squarely and readjust our outlook toward a brighter tomorrow, helps us break through, stand tall and maybe even look forward to tomorrow being a better day.
• 4. Live the Serenity Prayer: We can’t move past something we don’t accept. By learning how to determine what we have the ability to change and what is out of our control, we can keep our focus on the things we can positively impact and off spinning our wheels and increasing frustration.
• 5. Think Small: We build resilience through developing small successes in our every day lives. Just one tiny step in the right direction routinely, builds momentum. It may not seem like much, but even Mount Everest can only be scaled one step at a time. Small, achievable goals build life times of success and keep us moving forward, even when we hit a bump in the road.
• 6. Reality Show: Some of the most recent data on stress indicates that what makes it so unhealthy to people is our attempted avoidance of it. When things are not going well, resilient people face it squarely and determine their next move quickly and efficiently, rather than stress and fret over how badly things are going. By getting past it quicker, they have more energy left to actually correct the problem and build resilience.
• 7. Think Happy Thoughts: Focusing on the things we want helps us achieve them and also distracts us from focusing on things that don’t go the way we want. There is loads of documented proof that positive affirmations and visualization builds success and resilience. If we haven’t yet achieved our goals, by picturing them and focusing our energies on them, we bring them to us that much sooner.
• 8. Perspective Means A Lot: By keeping things in their proper perspective, we avoid turning setbacks into insurmountable catastrophes . Keeping a ‘this too shall pass’ perspective in times of trouble, can be just the spoonful of sugar Mary Poppins was talking about that we need to get our medicine down, keep us going and help us to bounce back.
• 9. Self-Conviction and Confidence: There are very few things that build resilience as well as self-confidence and conviction of purpose. We hit on the perfect combination when we are able to believe in what we are seeking to accomplish and our own ability to get the job done. These two factors work together almost magically, helping to make us pretty much unstoppable. By combining these two factors, we can develop a surplus of resilience that can last for days.
• 10. Look at the Flip Side: Just like the old 45 RPM records, all life’s adversities have a flip side. For every weakening blow we are dealt, we also are shown a strength we didn’t realize we possessed. Learn to look for the strength that life’s adversities leave in their wake. Was that struggle one that helped strengthen or renew a relationship? Did that hardship help heighten your level of spirituality or appreciation for life? Find the positivity that exists in the flip side of the hurdle and you’ll grow your levels of resilience beyond your wildest dreams.
Resilience is not something we get and use up. Resilience is our emotional elasticity that we need in order to handle whatever life throws at us. And working to build it up is a life-long project. Start building your resilience today for more success, a stronger you, and someone who can keep standing even in the face of adversity.