Life can be soft, life can be warm, life can be fluffy; but, most of the time, it’s hard and spiky. The ups can be electric and exhilarating, but the downs can really drag you under.
Resilience is essential if you want to make it through to the other side relatively unscathed.
Work life can be stressful, relationships can be painful. People can be cruel, and nature can be unrelenting. Life wasn’t supposed to be easy, but we only get one shot, so we should do our best to make the most of it. Resilience can often be the key to happiness. It allows us to get back up again and see the brighter side.
The good news is, resilience isn’t a trait; it’s not a naturally occurring thing that you either have or haven’t got. Resilience can be learned, it’s about behaviours and ways of thinking more than anything.
What follows is a brief guide to building up your resilience in the face of adversity.
Not everyone is happy to except the help of others, but being connected to people who understand you can be the difference between sinking and swimming. If you are close to your family, get closer. If you don’t have that many connections, join a group or a society.
Knowing you have someone to talk to might be all you need when the beef hits the fan. Also, the more you talk to others, the more you realise that your problems aren’t uncommon and that others have it much worse than you.
By the same token, helping others through their difficult times can build up your own resilience levels too. You will achieve a deeper understanding of the nature of problems and life itself. Knowledge is power.
Don’t View Problems As Insurmountable
Remember when you were 15 years old and that girl/boy dumped you? You couldn’t imagine ever getting over that could you? But you did (probably within a matter of weeks).
Bad things happen; that’s the one thing you can rely on. We can’t stop them from occurring, but we can change the way we perceive them. Emotions are not permanent, unless you allow them to be.
Instead of viewing each problem as a life-threatening panic-fest, we can observe it for what it is – a bump in the road. Practice looking past it. Imagine how your life will be once this is behind you.
As you steadily deal with things, make sure to reflect on how you are already feeling a little better. Remember past pain and how it subsided.
Get A Purpose In Life
If you are currently experiencing some tough times, finding a new purpose in life can be a godsend. Similarly, having something that you are passionate about will build up your resilience ready for life’s next disaster.
Whether it’s a religion, some type of art, music, writing, sports or exercise, it will give you somewhere to send your thoughts when it’s all getting a little bleak.
Also, going back to a previous point, it will help you build a support network.
Having something that is important to you makes you a well-rounded person. It will help you to thrive in adversity because you know that whatever goes wrong elsewhere in your life, you still have another passion to use as a crutch.
If something in your life is blowing up before your eyes, don’t look away.
Stare it down. If you try to avoid it, it won’t go away. In our heart of hearts we know that hiding our faces won’t solve the problem, but it’s so tempting to bury our heads in the sand.
No, that won’t do. We need to analyse it, understand it and take decisive actions. No dilly-dallying. The time is now. The quicker we start dealing with the storm ahead, the quicker we’ll be out the other side.
Reminding ourselves that we can handle situations when they crop up will make us feel resilient, and, in the most part, people who think they are resilient actually are resilient.
Quite often, something in our life that we view as a disaster isn’t even a disaster at all; it’s just a change. Change doesn’t have to be bad.
Bring to mind a time in your past when you were terrified of a big change in your life, but when it happened it was actually, totally fine. We all do that. We fear the unknown, but when it comes down to it, it’s fine. Things change.
If life was static it would be incredibly boring. Embrace change and enjoy it. The more you remind yourself that things change and that it’s not always bad, the more likely you are to be un-phased by life’s bumps and scrapes.
Develop Your Mind
Practice problem-solving. Life is basically one long series of problems to be solved. Back in humanity’s cave days, our problems were things like making sure we had enough food, staying warm and staying alive.
Today, thankfully, for most of us those problems are easily solved. Today’s challenges can be much more technical and confusing. So arm yourself, do a daily sudoko, do crosswords, go to pub quizzes, learn new skills, read books.
The better you are at problem-solving in less stressful times, the better you’ll be in more stressful times.
Look After Yourself
Sleep enough, eat well, and move around a bit. The more physically well you feel, the more psychologically healthy you will be. And, like I said before, resilience is a state of mind.
It’s tempting to eat badly, sleep less and drink alcohol when we are stressed. We think we are self-medicating. In reality, we’re making the problem seem much worse than it is and reducing our ability to deal with it.
Even if you have nothing going on in your life that you’re dealing with, following the tips above will mean that when trouble does come knocking (and you know it will), you will be prepped and ready for action. Olympic athletes don’t start training when they arrive at the stadium; it takes work in advance.
Resilience can be learned. No problem is insurmountable.