Building resilience is something we all have to do at some stage in our lives, but I’d imagine (along with patience) never more than in the current world climate. A common definition of resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and toughness. Another is to recover in a timely manner with minimal impact on our daily lives and routines. Taking a deeper dive, we can also define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.
Now, while it may take us collectively, as the human race, a long time to recover from the pandemic and the difficulties it has brought with it, there are tools and resources we can draw on to build resilience while the world gets back on its feet.
The famous Japanese proverb, ‘fall down seven times, get up eight’, could indeed have been written for the years 2020 and 2021. It does indeed seem as though every time we stand up and things become brighter, another cluster of Covid appears, or another border closes, or another lockdown occurs. So, how can we take these hits and use them to build resilience and make us stronger?
Here are some suggestions.
Building Resilience Through Control Of Self
This refers to our emotional stability and how quickly we are able to calm our frantic or upset mind after a negative experience. Emotional resilience is something we all have within us, since birth, but of course, it varies between individuals. Some may have stronger emotional resilience than others, while many may not cope well with negative experiences at all.
Nelson Mandela famously said, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
If we can learn to rise again with each fall, it helps build resilience and emotional strength. It is not so much about bending and not breaking, but acknowledging that perhaps you may be broken and that you can sit with the acceptance of that brokenness and learn to live with it. You can build resilience to have a fulfilled life, despite having suffered through or encountered negative emotional experiences. Doing so allows us to adapt to disappointment and grow from it, without allowing it to affect our motivation or hope for the future.
A good exercise or mantra to help achieve this, is to remind yourself that you have survived 100 percent of all your bad days so far. In my mind, that makes you pretty resilient and certainly strong. If you find yourself struggling however, there is certainly no shame in seeking support.
Building Resilience Through Social Support
Having healthy relationships in our lives that are based on love and trust can indeed strengthen or boost our resilience. Typically, the first thing we do when we are in trouble or stress/strife, is to reach out to a trusted friend of family member. It may be that we simply need to vent, or we need their emotional support, or we may even need to call them in to come in to bat for us.
In so far as this goes, it is important that we create healthy, harmonious relationships in our lives in order to help us build resilience.
How to do this? Do an online search for local community activities such as fitness groups, book clubs, art classes … something that peaks your interests and where you may find like minded folk to created solid friendships with.
Optimism and Resilience
The link between optimism and resilience is a strong one. In fact, according to the Centre For Optimism, resilience is underpinned by optimism, and there are myriad thought leaders globally who say the same. The Centre highlights research by several leading American universities and centres, which have established a very strong link between optimism and longevity.
Dr Carol Graham of The Brookings Institution says “The link between optimism and longevity is strong.”
Why? It is believed that optimistic people are better able to balance their emotions more effectively and that they more easily bounce back from some of the many stresses that life offers.
Finding optimism if it doesn’t come naturally to you isn’t alway easy though! There are many tools you can implement into your day, such as gratitude journaling, noting your successes instead of beating yourself up for your failures, find an optimism ‘mentor’ or in other words, surround yourself with optimistic people, and do your best to challenge those negative thoughts that inevitably swim through our minds daily.
Building resilience tends to go hand in hand with having great problem-solving skills. No matter what the issue may be, people with resilience tend to look at a problem, identify it, break it down into manageable parts (i.e.: solve small parts of the problem at a time rather than tackle an enormous issue all at once), generate several possibilities that may be able to lead to positive solutions and then select the most appropriate option to apply to the problem. Obviously, the more we practise this, the more resilient we learn to become.
Emotional awareness and indeed building resilience in the emotional realm is the ability to adapt to stressful situations, and cope with life’s roller coaster. It’s important to remember though, that to build resilience doesn’t immediately erase stress or difficulty. Rather, it empowers you to better tackle or accept problems, live through adversity and move on with life.
Building resilience on an emotional level is aligned with creating a greater self-knowledge. It allows you to use your emotions cleverly, adapting them to each individual situation.
It’s natural and normal to have fears and doubts about situations that are essential for survival. However, each time we confront our fears or challenge ourselves to do something we were afraid to do, we grow as individuals and our resilience grows along with it.
Sense of Humour
Im a similar vein to optimism, using your sense of humour is a great way to build resilience. We can’t avoid day-to-day stress, but we can learn to cope with it by looking at the light side. Got someone who particularly annoys you? Why not create a ‘bingo’ with a friend for each time the person uses a certain phrase or word you can’t stand. Just keep it milld – none of us want to get in tourble from the PC police!
Having trouble finding humour? Fake it til you make it? Even a fake site eventually turns into a real one, and Thi can be the same as a sense of humour.
And remember …
Building resilience is like building a muscle. It takes time, intent and strategy. You need to set clear gl=oals and create a plan to achieve them. learn fro mothers – was what they do and how they handle tough situations. Challenge the way you look at yourself.
And of course at any time, feel free to ask for help if you need it. I am available for ZOOM calls and am available to support you.