How to Be Resilient: The Must-Have Quality
What’s a must-have quality to live fully? The older you get, the more challenges you will face. By using your life experiences, you can navigate through the sometimes treacherous terrain.
To deal with challenges, both big and small, develop resilience — an essential spiritual quality. When you’re resilient, you recover from setbacks. You adapt to changing circumstances. And fortunately resilience is learnable, regardless of your genes or temperament.
It’s been noted that US college students in recent years have become less resilient. They seek help from counselors for ordinary problems like fitting in to into a new environment, living more independently, relationships and life’s problems (like finding a mouse in you’re the dorm and having a mental breakdown).
Although genetics and early programming do make some people more resilient, all people can make changes in the way they respond. It’s important to become more resourceful and a problem solver, and not overly dependent on others. Resilience is not a fixed trait and you can shift your set point in this area.
Seven Ways to Cultivate Resilience
1. Be Flexible
Like a branch, you need to be bendable or you will break. To be resilient, you need to be flexible. On a physical level, this means keeping your body in shape by eating healthily, exercising and resting sufficiently.
On a mental-emotional level, you want to be agile flexible and creative too.
Psychologist Shannon Kolakowski notes,
“Sometimes you need to lean on others and get emotional support; other times you need to give yourself space to heal or grieve or let things cool off; and other situations need swift and strong action to advocate for yourself or confront a situation head on.”
2. Be Prepared
Children are taught to prepare for emergencies such as fires and earthquakes by practicing and rehearsing the actions to take in the event of a sudden, unexpected danger. That’s a good approach to your life as an adult too. What will you do in the heat of the moment, when disaster strikes? Whether it’s a big bill coming unexpectedly, a broken appliance, a car accident, a business failure, or a natural disaster?
A few suggestions to be prepared:
pause and reflect
have a positive word or chant
visualize a calming image, color or symbol.
Your preparation might include physical emergency supplies as well as a financial buffer. You need to be able to react intelligently and quickly so you can restore order.
3. Stay Connected
When setbacks strike, we may tend to hunch our shoulders and want to crawl into a hiding place. Retreating, however, is generally the way to dig yourself into a deeper hole. Instead, reach out to others. Ask for help and support. Just like you would want to help others in times of their need, plug in to your social connections or make new ones.
4. Breathe and Relax
There’s a reason one of the primary ways to meditate is simply focusing on your breath. Deep breathing relaxes you. Positive self-talk can be relaxing too. A calm mind can withstand much and soothes troubling waters, whatever whereas a reactive mind agitates an already difficult situation, and creates more chaos.
5. Do Strength Training
Strong body, strong mind. Too many people become frail and brittle in older age and then may fall and never recover. You can prevent that by strength training, lifting weights 2-3 times a week, which builds muscle, improves circulation and metabolism, and sharpens your brain too.
6. Reframe the Picture
Coaching and healing are all about reframing: seeing the situation from another perspective. Seeing the glass half full instead of half empty. Or better yet, seeing the whole glass. By viewing more possibilities, both positive, negative and mixed, you have better chances to choose wisely. Find a good path in the moment to go forward rather than staying stuck.
7. Keep the Big Picture in Mind
Goals and aspirations are by their very nature uplifting. As you face adversities, they can challenge, strengthen and educate you. You then naturally don’t bemoan your fate; instead you realize that you matter just like others do. You can get out of this slump and make a difference. You will lift yourself out of the mud and be the stronger for it. Such a committed approach supports the long-view of purpose, meaning and the happiness it brings.
What would the movie hero do? Become the hero of your own story!
Resilience then is a key skill of turning lemons into lemonade, in effect, letting you live a happier, more productive life. Knowing that you are resilient turns setbacks and failures into opportunities and new perspectives. It fortifies you to be a creator and not a victim.
Find out more about being resilient and The Ultimate Paradigm Shift.