With so much happening in our fast-paced world of ever breaking news and social media, I can’t help but think about the idea of resilience. Resilience is defined as the ability to recover quickly from difficult situations. Perhaps because it is as a coach and consultant, I engage people who more often than not are struggling with job dissatisfaction, relationship issues, family drama, mental health, illness and general unhappiness. It’s a lot to take in. I would not be truthful if I said I was immune to these issues. My life has most definitely had its ups and downs, but what sets me apart is my ability to spring back. I am also a hopeless optimist and the daughter of a military father. Discipline, responsibility, consistency, failure and success were all concepts I learned how to deal with from an early age. So I started to think....how do we develop resilient behavior? This is the classic case of nature versus nurture in my counseling mindset.
My personal experiences and unscientific qualitative data collection suggest that it is a little of both. Our ability to handle difficult situations comes from what we know and learn in conjunction with who we are from birth. From our earliest moments as children, we recited nursery rhymes and songs that impressed upon us the idea that we should get back up and dust ourselves off if things don’t go right...Itsy Bitsy Spider? Ring Around the Rosy? Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill? The messages were clear. Bad things happen. Life is hard. Get back up and keep going. The sun will come out tomorrow
If it was only so easy. Life is complicated. So where does nature fit into this picture? As a Strengths Coach, I believe that we all have inherent talents that we nurture into abilities to handle situations dealt to us. Then there are personality traits to consider. There is no perfect advice to give because each person and situation is unique and will vary in depth and complexity. However, if life has handed you a basket full of lemons, take heed. Eventually, you will enjoy a tall glass of lemonade. So if you are struggling, here are some suggestions to SPRING back.
Stand up to the problem. Sulk for a proverbial minute or two. We all get to wallow in misery once in a while but don’t stay there. Once you have regained a sense of emotional equilibrium, face your issue head-on. Seek support from understanding family and friends. If you find yourself overstaying your welcome of free support, consider seeking professional help if needed. There is no shame in asking for help. Some clarity from a fresh set of eyes can go a long way. Ignoring your problem is the same as wallowing and may cause emotional burnout. Face the fear of dealing with the issue. In the end, it will be ok.
Plan and Perspective. Make a plan. Any plan. Whether it is getting out of your pajamas and facing a new day or thinking about the next steps in your rebound. Your plan just has to be forward-thinking. There is no sense in looking back. Formulate the next steps in your mind and create a roadmap of possibilities. Write it down. Commit to it. When you find yourself doubting the plan....adjust and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Forward progress. Once you have a plan, the perspective becomes clearer. They go hand in hand.
Reframe your thoughts. This may be the hardest thing to do. It is so easy to return to negative thoughts. Reliving the trauma of the situation can literally catapult you back into victimhood. You will find yourself replaying the situation over and over with no outcome of than the one you experienced. Sometimes closure isn't possible. There may be tears, anger and other stages of grief you may journey through. This is all to be expected. Reframing your thoughts from negative to positive may take time. When you catch yourself thinking about the situation, stop the thought and think about something positive that you are moving towards. Create a personal mantra to repeat if you must. Keep doing this and soon you will begin thinking about it less. Letting go may be the hardest part, but it is a healthy part of healing. Create a new story to replace the old one.
Invest in yourself. Find new joy by discovering new hobbies, interests or activities. Take the time to heal by investing in yourself. By seeking out new adventures, you will begin to re-emerge into life again. It’s ok to take a life break by mixing up your routine. Take a sick day, go for a hike or travel to a local spot you have wanted to visit. Take a class. Learn a new skill. Volunteer your time (helping others is a great way to focus on someone else). Read a book. Whatever you chose, chose an activity that is meaningful to you and that will bring you joy.
No excuses. Own it. Moving forward is a commitment. Your transition to a new and improved you is a journey...be patient and kind to yourself. Ask yourself the question, is what you are doing to move forward helping or hurting you? Stop with behaviors and choices that do not help you. You have the power to remove the barriers keeping you from being resilient. By determining if the action is helpful or harmful, you will begin to feel empowered by your choices. You get to own that.
Growth. I spend a lot of time with clients and groups talking about personal growth. With adversity comes the ability to grow. It’s so cliché and I hate clichés but what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger. With every experience comes an opportunity to reflect, correct and grow. Depending on the situation, if you don’t learn from it...then there may be an opportunity to repeat it. Human nature. Sometimes we just have to learn the hard way...but do your best to grow and become better for living through the situation. Trust the process and trust the journey.