Life doesn't always go as smoothly as we'd like. We all face challenges, moments of stress, and even traumatic experiences. The good news is that by being vigilant observers, we can learn to deal with difficult experiences.
Before we start the story of resilience, I want to make sure we have the same understanding of the term. The English word resilience can be understood in two ways:
1. resilience in the face of adversity
2. resilience, as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties
So in our post, we will understand resilience as the ability to deal with and grow beyond adversity. It can be learned and polished, which in turn helps us to adaptively solve life's difficulties.
How can it be built?
Here are the main tips.
Cultivate a close relationship
As human beings, we crave a sense of belonging. Having a social support network is strongly related to your mental and physical health. When it comes to facing adversity, these relationships will strengthen your resilience and provide a sense of relief, reassurance, and of what is extremely important: feeling that you are not alone in a difficult moment.
We often have a reflexive tendency to isolate ourselves in times of trouble. This is especially true of men who avoid admitting their weakness. The direction should be the opposite. It's a good idea to talk to a friend, family member, or mentor.
We all experience thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations that do not serve us well in dealing with situations. Developing the ability to change these feelings in your favor is a key part of resilience.
While you often can't control external factors, you can regulate your internal response to them.
One of the powerful tools that we often forget is our breathing. For example, by increasing the length of your exhalations, you can affect the sympathetic nervous system and return to a feeling of peace and security. At the same time, you turn off the instinctive response of the sympathetic nervous system called "Fight or flight".
People often try to over-control everything in their lives. It gives them a sense of security or power (and ultimately security as well). The basic element of resilience is the ability to accept those elements that you cannot control in a given situation and not to spend your mental and emotional energy on them. This practice of acceptance does not mean surrender, but it allows you to focus your energy on those aspects that are within your control.
I wrote about it much more in the post: Acceptance Coaching. What's more important: the journey or the destination?
Instead of focusing on what is missing in your life, try practicing gratitude. Gratitude allows you to see and recognize what is already present.
Research has shown that the practice of feeling grateful has many benefits, even on a physiological level. For example, it increases the production of dopamine (the hormone of good mood), reduces anxiety and depression, and lowers your heart rate so you can feel safer and calmer.
Being grateful also promotes a more balanced and realistic view and challenges extreme negative thinking.
By developing a more grounded mind, it also becomes easier to use your inner resources to solve problems and face challenges.
Connect with something bigger than yourself
"Something Bigger Than You" may be considered faith or spirituality, but that does not necessarily mean that you must be a follower of some religion.
Resilient people are connected to something beyond their immediate self, which could be God, Nature, the Universe, Idea, Mission, etc. By walking away and looking at the bigger picture of life, you can find a sense of meaning that is embedded in your experiences. This, in turn, gives you a sense of hope that will help you face adversities.
For example, please note that everything in this world changes and passes away. All. Therefore, trouble will also pass. Or circumstances will change and new ones will arise. Invariably and always, the day comes after night, sun after a storm, and spring after winter. This law and the cyclical nature of life cannot be questioned. And I think that it is very nicely captured in the simple folk truth "God gives the day, God will give advice".
I also like saying "The night is darkest just before dawn". It is indeed so. And in a metaphorical sense, this means that when it seems to us that it cannot get any worse, it is usually a signal that we are just approaching a way out of the crisis.
Because paradoxically, we need crises. For example, to cleanse ourselves of what is blocking us from reaching our greatest potential. Or to become aware of something important. Crises and difficulties are often powerful and extremely valuable development lessons. Interestingly, it is only thanks to difficulties that we can become aware of how much we can do and how much strength lies in us.
So if you feel you are in chaos, I have good news. Chaos is a necessary phase that separates the new and the old. Chaos means that the old is dying and the new is not yet born. It depends on you what shape it will take.