Major disruptions are a “Gotcha!” that we all experience at one time or another in our lives. We get fired, laid off or passed over; a loved one dies, leaves or gets in trouble; a project stalls or gets cancelled. The list, unfortunately, can seem endless.
For some, the impact of these hard times is overwhelming. Recovery, if it comes at all, can be painfully slow. Others show resilience and are able to glide through these times fairly easily, bouncing back to a normal life again quickly. How do those lucky peeps do it?
Resilience—the strength required to adapt to change—acts as our internal compass so we can skillfully navigate life when the defecation hits the oscillation.
When unexpected events turn life upside down, it’s the degree to which our resiliency comes into play that makes these “make-or-break” situations an opportunity for growth. The good news is that each of us has the capacity to reorganize our life after life’s shizzle happens to us, and to achieve new levels of strength and meaningfulness.
Though it’s easy to feel vulnerable in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, life disruptions are not necessarily a bad thing, because they help us grow and meet future challenges in our lives. It’s a lot like a bone that was once fragile or broken, and is now strong from being used. Did you know that? Bones are stronger after they’ve mended. You can be too.
So how can you become more resilient?
Here’s a look at seven key characteristics of people who demonstrate resilience during life’s curve balls:
1. A Sense of Hope and Trust in the World – Optimism!
Resilient people rely on their belief in the basic goodness of the world and trust that things will turn out all right in the end. This positive attitude allows them to weather times when everything seems bleak and to look for and accept the support that is out there. This approach toward the world gives them the ability to hope for a better future.
Do you feel like you were born a pessimist? No worries. You can actually learn how to shift to a more positive perspective. Check out Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism – or check out an upcoming Jedi Juice call – if you want to learn more.
2. Interpreting Experiences in a New Light
The ability to look at a situation in a new way (a skill called “reframing”) can minimize the impact of a difficult situation. Resilient people take a creative approach toward solving a problem, and don’t always use an old definition for a new challenge.
I use this a lot when coaching my clients, taking them through different perspectives around an issue. I never cease to be amazed at the power of this skill.
I remember one client who was particularly resistant to trying on another perspective. She was insistent that her current perspective – one of being absolutely helpless at her situation at work – was “the truth.” She had essentially been back-stabbed at work, and she was at risk of losing her entire business. She said, “There is no other way to look at this – these are facts, and I can’t change that. There’s nothing I can do.” She even got angry at the suggestion.
This lasted for the duration of the session. However, later that evening she sent me a message:
Ana, thank you for helping me see that there was another way to look at this. I realized that I had a choice in how I responded to this, and that is making such a huge difference. I can already tell I am going to sleep better tonight than I have in a long time.
And she did;)
3. A Meaningful Tribe and System of Support
One of the best ways to endure a crisis is to have the support of another person who can listen and validate your feelings. Knowing that others care and will come to our support decreases the feeling of isolation, especially when tackling a problem alone.
It’s important to choose people you trust. Don’t be surprised if it takes several friends, each of whom can provide different kinds of support. Resilient people aren’t stoic loners. They know the value of expressing their fears and frustrations, as well as receiving support, coaching or guidance from friends, family or a professional.
4. A Sense of Mastery and Control Over Your Destiny
You may not be able to predict the future, but you can be proactive about a problem instead of feeling at the mercy of forces outside of your control. I like using the contrasting terms of RESPONDING instead of REACTING to life.
Resilient people know that ultimately the integrity of their life values – as well as their success – depends on their ability to take action rather than remain passive. Tough times call for you to tap into your own sense of personal responsibility – you have all you need within you, badass!
This is a lot of what I teach in my Ziji Up! Mastery Program because it has become so blatantly clear to me that creating your dreams – and staying focused on what you need to do to get there – has to do with inner radiant confidence = Ziji!
5. Self-Reflection and Insight
Life’s experiences provide fertile ground for learning – don’t waste them! Asking yourself questions that invite introspection can open a door to new understanding and appreciation of who you are and what you stand for. When we can’t seem to find the answer, we need to ask a different question.
Giving voice to your thoughts and feelings leads to insight and helps transform the meaning of a problem into something useful. Resilient people learn from life situations and do not succumb to punishing themselves because of decisions made in the past. So let go, and forgive yourself, yo!
6. A Wide Range of Interests
People who show resilience in the face of adversity are those who have a diversity of interests. They’re open to new experiences and ideas. Because their lives are rich and varied, it’s easier for them to find relief from the single-mindedness and worry that often accompany a crisis.
This was something I learned after getting cancer, when I couldn’t run to my usual refuge of the mountains to soothe myself during treatment. I dropped deeper into my other interests of meditation, spiritual studies, and yoga. I worry about people who only have one passion in life. It’s like putting all your eggs into one basket. Developing lots of things to love;)
7. Sense of Humor
Have you ever had a wry laugh during a difficult situation? I sure as hell have. Some would even call it inappropriate if they were watching some of those. The ability to see the absurdity, irony, or genuine humor in a situation stimulates our sense of hope and possibility.
Humor has both psychological and physical benefits in relieving stress because it encourages a swift change in your perception of your circumstances—and when your thoughts change, your mood follows!
Here’s the Bottom Line
When you look to improve these seven areas now—rather than when adversity pays a visit—you’ll be able to bounce back more quickly. So let’s get to it! Be proactive about learning these skills and cultivating more resources in your life.
Here are some simple versions of my personal favorite ways to get through a bad day:
:: Let myself feel shitty for a while – but not too long. I choose a fixed amount of time to wallow;) And I mean REALLY feel it. I let it wash over me like a tidal wave. And I surrender.
:: Do NOT drink alcohol or partake in other mind-altering substances other than the juice of meditation. When you are in a funk and are fully present with it, it WILL pass more quickly.
After the wallow:
:: Do not feel guilty for the things you thought or did while your were in your fixed-time of wallowing. You were just getting it out of your system.
:: Know myself – and what makes me feel good. It is almost impossible for me to feel bad with kick ass salsa music in the background. I can’t help but dance, and when I dance, my body tells my mind life ain’t so bad!
:: Exercise – the hormones released during exercise are GOOD for you. Even if it means just going for a walk.
:: Get outside and LOOK UP! This shifts your perspective and can make the biggest difference.
:: Eat a healthy meal – like an epic salad, or have a green juice. The chi flows through me and shifts my attitude!
:: Take a shower, bath, or jump in a body of water like a blue ocean, a mountain river, or an alpine lake. This takes my physical body and jolts it to the present moment
:: Play music that lights up my soul
:: Listen to a meditation by Pema Chodron or Hiro Boga. Their voices make me smile;)
:: Call upon my posse of girlfriends or my partner. Sometimes I need them to help me do all the above;)
Want more to help you create your own? Here are some recommended resources to start:
- Mindset by Carol Dweck
- Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman
- The Resilience Factor by Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte
Do you have a story you can share about a time when you got through a rough patch? Please share it with the tribe below and let us know what worked – and didn’t work – for you. What you share can possibly make a huge difference in someone’s life!
Onward, Freedom Warrior!