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The world around us is so convoluted. Change. Ambiguity. Trying to control all the variables is humanly impossible. We cannot change this ocean of uncertainty, no matter how hard you try. So it’s best to learn how to sail in all conditions. We need to learn to bounce back after every setback. We need to develop the resilience muscle.
Resilience is well described in the famous quote of Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change”. You don’t need to be the strongest. You don’t need to be the most intelligent.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult experiences, from tragedy to illness to job and relationship problems, and more. Resilience is our capacity to cope with changes and challenges. It is never giving up even when things get though. It is trying even if we are not sure we’ll succeed. It is the courage to come back from failure. It is getting back up again when we have been knocked down.
The best about resilience is that it can be learned and developed. Remember what Carl Jung said: “I’m not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”
Building resilience takes work. Natural resilience is not that common. After a major life event, divorce or unemployment, wellbeing declines and bouncing back might not happen soon. Therefore you need to build the muscle intentionally. Here you have some techniques that will allow you to do so,
1. Build a positive view
To survive the external uncertainty, we need refine the way we see life. When we look for possibilities, we’ll find them. This is done by being positive.
1.1. Start with yourself
Our brain is wired to forget compliments and remember criticisms. To build resilience we have to fight this natural brain tendency by daily self-acknowledgement. We need to daily remember the good things we did the past 24 hours. Every morning, make a list of the 8 things you are proud of: you said I love you, your said sorry, you asked for help, you prioritize self-help, you made the scary phone call… By doing so you will build a more positive view of yourself.
1.2. Continue with your capabilities
Adopt a growth mindset. Believe that you can learn. Believe you can adopt new habits. Believe you can get better results. Play with the magic of the word “yet”. Instead of saying “ I cannot do that”, say “ I cannot do that yet”. This tiny word will boost enormously your resilience muscle.
Make your now abundant with possibilities and blessings. Gratitude is the key. Write down for 2 minutes everything that you are grateful for. While you are doing that, let your body open up and notice what happens. Make this a daily practice. This will help you to see the positive even when things go wrong.
1.4. The future
Worrying is a waste of the imagination. It’s praying for the unwanted. Concentrate on what you truly want to see in your life. Where would you like to live? What would you like to eat? What would you like to talk about? See all that. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between your visions in your mind and reality. As you cherish your vision, you will become more optimistic. This optimism will allow you to see the opportunities that will lead you to the materialization of your vision.
1.5. Re-frame all your negative thoughts
- Be the observer. Simply be conscious of yourself as a detached witness to your thoughts.
- Distract yourself. Do something that will occupy your mind so there’s no room for the negative thoughts.
- Name the thought. Acknowledge that they are nothing more than thoughts, not the reality.
- Acceptance. Simply acknowledge your thoughts, emotions and your life for what they are as they are.
- Just say no. When you catch yourself in worry, simply say: STOP, out loud.
2. Re-frame your view on setbacks
In Japan broken objects are often repaired with gold. The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object’s history, which adds to its beauty. Consider this when you feel broken.
2.1. Avoid seeing a crisis as unconquerable
Setbacks are unavoidable. Your reaction to them is under your control.
2.2. Ask better questions
Take a deep breath. Explore the situation with powerful questions: What can I learn from this? How can I make this perfect? How can I enjoy this? What would compassion say about this? What is the solution to that? What is this trying to teach me? Just then, decide which action to take.
2.3. Focus on what you can control
There is no point in stressing over something you can’t change. Move on and grow stronger. Use the serenity prayer constantly: God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference. Remember if you cannot change it, you can change the way you think about it.
2.4. Re-frame hardships as great gifts
The most painful tragedies and hardships always come with brilliant unexpected gifts. In those moments we can develop better relationships. We can develop a spiritual and emotional strengths even within the vulnerability. Setbacks are the best mirrors to look at yourself and get to know you better. Improving our self-awareness always results in increases self-worth and compassion.
2.5. Keep things in perspective
Take a step back and ask yourself: What am I complaining about? Remember the big picture. Will this be an issue in 5 years? In 10 years? The only certain future is dead, everything else is easy. In fact, this thought makes everything easy. When you feel you cannot deal with the situation, just take a step back. Don’t let the crisis steal your calm.
3. Maintain positive and personal connections
Being resilient is not about doing all by yourself. On the contrary, it’s about learning how to ask for help and build community.
3.1. Build strong support networks
Have at least one person who cheers you on and whom you can turn to in crisis. Build profound relationships with whom you can be completely vulnerable, with whom you can be at home.
3.2. Communicate regularly and effectively
Relationships are like a garden, you need to nourish your relationships with active listening, profound conversations and saying “I love you” and “sorry”.
3.3. Ask for help
When you ask for help you give the other the opportunity to get even closer to you, to love you. Open up to receive.
3.4. Build Community
Socialize and participate in your community. Meet others. Learn how they deal with life issues. Feeling the vitality of humanity will allow you to bounce back from anything.
4. Action boosts resilience
Even if thoughts can boost resilience, the most powerful way is action. Action has magic in it.
4.1. Move towards your goals
Any small progress is progress. Concentrate in regular action towards your goals. Every small success help you to move toward your goal. The success is in the process. Work hard. Take responsibility for your life and work hard, but don’t forget to ask for help when needed.
4.2. Take positive decisive actions
Problems don’t go away just by wishing so. You need to act upon them. They are great opportunities for you to learn and expand. Sometimes the strength within you seems nonexistent. Listen to your little voice telling you softly: “you got this, keep going.” Improvise.
4.3. Do one scary thing per day
When we do one scary thing per day, we are teaching our brain that we can survive the unknown. We are teaching your brain resilience. When we do something new, our brain perceives it as an anomaly. So we experience anxiety. However, when we complete this new thing, there is a sense of excitement. Our brain releases dopamine. Repeating this process is in fact training your brain for higher levels of resilience.
Take care of yourself. Remember, you are your most valuable resource. Taking care of your body, mind and soul will allow you to deal with any surprise.
5.1. Learn to rest
Resting is not quitting. Give it a new meaning. Resting is part of building your resilience If you get tired give yourself the gift of rest. Learn the outstanding benefits of sleep here.
5.2. Find purpose
You don’t have to continue wasting your talent in a job that takes all the vitality away from you. Start doing what you love. That is what you were made for. When you do so, you will automatically have the power to bound back after any setback. Look for a way to use your talents as best as you can. When your combine it with the enjoy of serving others, you will become even more resilient.
When you meditate you’ll use your entire brain. There are no restriction to the power of your intuition and your analytical mind. They are running free. This is the perfect time to find the creative solutions that you’ll need to bounce back anytime, every day.
5.4. Experience more positive emotions
Latest neuroscience's research tells us that experience rewires our brain. Experiences that generate joy and engagement help us feel and function better. In fact they increase resilience. Keep a log of your positive events and stark seeking those experiences on purpose. Create opportunities for games, laughter, jokes and relaxation.
5.5. Feel-good chemicals on demand
You can produce the natural antidote to stress, oxytocin, on demand. This is the one free drug that will help you build resilience. You can do it in different ways: place your hand on your hair for one minute or massage yourself at the base of your skull or hug yourself for 20 seconds or take 3 very long breaths. For more powerful effect, pair any of the mentioned methods with warm thoughts, feelings or images.
5.6. Practice being authentic
Learn to identify your feelings, body sensations and thoughts. Name them. Share them with your support network. Share what you experience without identifying with it. You are not your anger or your fear. Stay calm. Practice tolerating their discomfort. As you talk about them you will detach more and more from them. As you ask better questions, you will move towards solutions and possibilities, very quickly.
Do you want to do something magnificent with your one and precious life?
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What is missing in this list? What is your secret weapon to bounce back?
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