Updated: Dec 2, 2021
Do you sometimes look at other people and wish you were like them? Have the strength and courage to overcome whatever life throws at you? Or maybe you envy others that they have the money, connections, or resources unavailable to you that’s why they can cope with the overwhelm in their life?
A lot of inspiring stories we hear are from people who overcame unspeakable events, went through a rough path, and found meaning in their suffering. Their actions are heroic, of course, but they all have one thing in common: they built resilience.
That’s correct. They went through the challenges because they built resilience. Not a lot of heroes were born with a high level of resilience. They built it. And that’s the good news, because if they could, so can you. And looking at our world-changing in the eyes of pandemic, when you never know how your tomorrow is going to look like, building resilience is the only way to be your own hero.
What is resilience?
According to Webster's dictionary resilience is defined as ‘an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change’. Resilience means the ability to jump back and keep going even if it’s tough or we can’t see a clear end.
There has to be a certain level of acceptance in order to become resilient. Accepting that some things happen, and there isn’t a logical rule as to what happens and to whom, can help with viewing your life as a string of events which happened to you, but you pulled through them. Once we accept that the world is changing, that something turned out to be a challenge, we can go through a grieving process. A lot of us are stuck in their misfortunes because we can’t let go of the idea that life needs to be fair and sad things shouldn’t happen to us. But the sooner you accept that you have no control over politics, other people’s behaviours and actions, expectations, economy, or weather, the sooner you can move on.
Giving yourself permission to grieve is a very important step in becoming resilient. You need to grieve what is forever lost, who you no longer are, and shift your perspective on what is the new and who you become. The shift is a crucial moment because with it comes growth. Any challenging situation you need to overcome, any troubles you need to solve, any injustice you encounter (be it in your own view or the world’s view) encourages you to transform. And whit this transformation comes growth. Looking at how you can use this challenge as a possibility for your personal growth, you’re flexing the muscle of resilience. Because building resilience is like building a muscle. The more often you do it, the more of it you have.
So, let‘s look at some ways to build resilience.
#1 Build connection
One of the primary human desires is to belong. So, no wonder that building connections is a way to increase your level of resilience. To belong means to be a part of something bigger, that is why we gravitate towards people who are similar to us. But to build resilience you need to build meaningful connections. This has to be in person, deep connection, where you can show your true self to somebody else. Connecting with like-minded people is crucial to our health and wellbeing because it gives us that needed sense of belonging and helps us understand that we are not alone in what we’ve been through or going through.
According to research done by Robin Dunbar, the UK Professor of Evolutionary Psychology, our brains can only remember 150 people, this includes your family members and close friends. I understand you may disagree, especially if you have hundreds and hundreds of ‘friends’ on Facebook, but be honest here: how many of them are your real friends? People who you have deep connection, long-term friendship and you can be vulnerable with? Good chances are that not that many, if any. There is a place and time for social media connections, but they are not there to give you the depth you need. Our brains are not that great at multitasking so one on one connection is the easiest to build. Close connections will help you to validate your feelings, support you and offer help when you need it but also give you the feeling that you are cared for.
So how are your close relationships? Are you building lasting and meaningful connections or are you adding another number to your Facebook circle?
#2 Look after your own well-being
Wellness has become a hype word lately, but for a good reason. You know that your wellbeing is important, but there is always a good excuse as to why not to look after yourself. Looking after your well-being means to take care of your body and mind. Those two components are co-existing, and you can’t achieve one without the other.
Your self-care routine should be non-negotiable. If you strong within your body and your mind, facing any challenging situations comes easier. You can tap into your own strengths and resources because you are strong enough to do so. To get yourself through whatever life throws at you, you need to build resilience through your well-being.
There is always an unlimited supply of stress, and when you’re going through difficult times, your stress level can be easily elevated. Stress takes a big toll on your body and mind, but you can cope with it and resist the stress if you are in a well-being state.
So, are you prioritizing your own well-being? What stress management techniques do you have in place to help you build resilience?
#3 Positive Thinking
Positive Psychology is a field wellness coaching is based on. And although there is some skepticism towards the philosophy of positive psychology, positive thinking does not mean you need to think that everything in life is great. Life is all about choices, and positive thinking is a choice you can make. Positive thinking doesn’t mean that nothing bad will ever happen to you. It’s thinking that when it happens, you will be able to stand up to a challenge, that you have what it takes to pull through. There is power in thinking that you’re capable of facing the dragon and moving past it. Focusing on what can be done, rather than on what you’re lacking is resilience.
To start shifting and using positive thinking to your advantage, you need to see that positive thinking is accepting. Accepting that some things happen for a reason or no reason at all, that world will be always changing regardless of if you are ready for it or not. Some plans may change and what you wanted before may no longer be available to you.
Building resilience through positive thinking is also focusing on the things you can control, rather than obsessing about the things you have no control over. You can control your behaviour and your actions, but you can’t control others. Focus on building on that, and you will see how your level of resilience grows.
So, how is your thinking? Are you building on what is working well for you or are you going in circles because you can’t accept that change is part of life?
#4 Find meaning
If you’ve read anything by Dr. Viktor Frankl (especially Man’s search for meaning) you know what I mean when I talk about finding meaning. You’ve heard how people who have been through the unimaginable, were able to find meaning in the challenging situation afterwards. It can be hard, sometimes it may feel impossible while facing the despair of the moment, but I always go back to Dr. Viktor Frankl’s teachings.
But you don’t have to go through the unimaginable terror to find meaning. Be honest and ask yourself if what you’re doing in your life now has a meaning? More and more of us give in to the overwhelm, others’ expectations rather than holding our own keys to freedom and happiness. We wake up in the morning, wanting the day to be over already. Where is your purpose and meaning in this?
By finding meaning you build resilience. Understanding that the situation you are in at this moment is temporary, that the emotional state you are experiencing now is temporary, will help you to see that there is an end and create an outlook for the future. Sometimes it may feel like you can’t overcome the struggles but believe me: you are more resilient than you give yourself credit for. Have you been in a tricky situation before? I’m sure you were. What did you do? How did you react? What strengths and tools did you use to overcome the struggle? Tap to your past experiences when you overcome a challenge and build on it.
Building resilience is like building a muscle, it takes time and practice. It’s an ongoing process. But the more often you do it, the easier it gets. Building resilience is building a new you, growing, evolving, and creating life worth living. You might have not been born with a high level of resilience, but for sure you can build it.
Are you building any close connections and true, deep relations? Building meaningful connections is not about the quantity but quality. It doesn’t matter how many friends you’ve got if you can’t be yourself around them.
Are you taking care of your own well-being? What is your self-care routine to handle stress? Is your mind and body in a high state of well-being? You can’t build resilience if you’re not taking care of yourself.
What choice are you going to make when it comes to your way of thinking? Are you accepting that the world is changing, and you have no control over it, but you can handle it anyway? Shifting your focus on things you have control over, rather than obsessing over things you can’t change will help you with elevating your resilience level.
What is the meaning in all of this? Do you live your life full of meaning and purpose? Or are you focusing on the challenges and struggles? Are you being proactive about finding solutions to problems and taking the initiative to keep motivated or are you staying stuck thinking the situation will last forever?
There are many ways to build resilience, pick one and go from there, then add another and another and see how your life changes, becomes full of meaning and passion again.
So, how are you going to build resilience today?
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Find out more about Anna Doktor Wellness Coaching at www.annadoktor.com.au