I’ve always had mixed feelings about the word resilient.
It’s kind of a buzzword now.
There’s a lot of talk about how to build resilience in our kids, how to be more resilient in our service professions, how to be resilient in tough personal crises. And I think I know why the word kinda rubbed me the wrong way for a while.
I didn’t really know what it meant!
When I think of resilience, I think of being tough, taking a lot of stuff, dealing with it and moving on.
Well it looks like I needed Grammar 101! Did you know these definitions for re·sil·ience?
1. The capacity to recover quickly from experiencing difficulties.
2. The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
The key here is you don’t just “take a lot of stuff,” you experience difficulties.
You’re not just “tough,” you are changed, but you recover.
It might seem subtle, but I think it’s huge.
You see, we don’t just have to get through tough times, take stuff, pretend things are okay and move on. We can experience tough times, not be okay, adapt, learn and evolve back into shape (or even in a slightly different one).
You can probably think of someone who has dealt with something horrific but has found joy again. A lot of people have. The majority of people have. But somehow when we are dealing with struggles, it’s very easy to feel alone, not okay and that nothing will ever get better.
The good news is, even if you’re not feeling it right now, resilience can be learned—it's not something we either have, or we don't have.
So if times are tough right now, you can take steps to strengthen your resilience. And even if you're not currently struggling, adopting these habits can help you down the road when life throws something at you.
Let’s get at it!
1. Count Your Blessings
Feeling grateful, something we can actively work on, helps us cope with our troubles. There is something about expressing gratitude right when it would be easiest not to, that helps you! In studies, people who created a list of five things they were grateful for over the past week felt better about their lives as a whole and were more optimistic about their expectations for the upcoming week than those who recorded hassles from the past week. The happiness-boosting benefits of thankfulness even help people living with difficult health conditions.
2. Expect Things to Get Better
If you are going through a tough time, you may not feel happy the next day, or even the next week. Eventually, with time, flashes of light will work their way back into your life. Anticipate this with certainty. Practice anticipating it with excitement even. If you’ve planned a trip to the beach for next year, you don’t have to be there yet to be excited about it. Be excited about feeling better, even when you don’t yet. Optimism is medicine. Take it!
3. Keep Plugged In
While there is a good reason to be selective about the people you talk to, the news you listen to or the emails you answer, don’t check out of these communications. There's no shortage of reasons why having a support system helps us get through tough times. Friends and loved ones can provide an invaluable distraction from our negative thoughts. When we're feeling isolated, they remind us that we're attached to a group—and that we're important to someone. Social support from positive influences is among the strongest of factors in feeling more positive.
4. Give Your Mind A Break
Although it's natural for your mind to turn over events in your head, getting a break from negative thoughts can be restorative and healing. Keeping yourself busy can give you some much-needed distance from your troubles.
- Work helps you practice focus and feel productive and accomplished.
- Volunteering helps you shift your focus from yourself to others and could even help you see your troubles in a new light.
- Spending some time discovering a new hobby literally wakes up the neurons in your brain!
- And there’s nothing like a fun mode of exercise to get the blood pumping, and your mind distracted.
5. Make Yourself Laugh
Watch a comedy show even if you don’t feel like it. Tell Alexa or Siri or whomever your virtual assistant of choice is to tell you a funny joke. And then MAKE yourself laugh. Humor dampens down our natural fight-or-flight reaction to negative events and lowers our stress hormones. It also shifts our perception of a difficult situation. Often when we are calmer, we can look at it differently. Instead of focusing on “Why me?”, it can help you turn to “Why not me?” Was there someone else you had in mind that is better suited for your crappy job? <wink>
6. Yes, it’s cheesy, but “This Too Shall Pass”
It just will. By definition, everything passes. Good and bad. Sometimes we are not experiencing the best outcomes that we had always hoped for, but it’s reassuring to know that we are traveling down a path that is constantly changing and this too will change. I talk to a lot of people who, when first learning about a serious diagnosis, feel panicked. Totally freaked out. That feeling subsides when they learn they have support, they have the knowledge, options, treatments, things to do to work towards feeling better. Remember your first breakup? Your first true love. Guaranteed you don’t miss Li’l Johnny quite as much today as you did back in the day.
Resilience: The ability to experience difficulties and spring back to shape.
I'm not saying that everything always goes back to wonderful, but I am saying that things can be better than they are now and we can feel better than we do now.
Leave a comment below and let me know how you’re currently working on strengthening resilience or which new ways above you can start implementing today!
Cheers To Your Day!