Resilience is about our ability to pick ourselves up time and time again after hardship and tragedy. It’s about persevering no matter how much rejection, pain and misfortune we may face.
We all face setbacks in life. It is normal and healthy to feel hurt, anger, sadness and pain when the unexpected happens. Yet there are those who after the grieving period make a decision not to be a victim, appreciate the lessons they learnt in their pain, realise their blessings and try to make their life better. And then there are others who keep playing the same tragic film in their minds and keep asking, ‘why me?’ Every failure and rejection is the world coming to an end. They may even stay in a pit that they can never get out of.
Here is a list I’ve made based on my own personal experiences, coaching clients and workshops I’ve run.
1. Find a purpose - When you are feeling down it’s hard to focus on anything but the pain, however many people who went through hardship reported back that it was through that time that they found their purpose. So, through this experience try to find your passion in life and have something to work towards and look forward to. Wake up and go to sleep thinking about how much you want this, how you will get it and master this new craft. This will keep your mind stimulated and excited. It could be a simple as taking up a new hobby like salsa dancing or surfing. It’s all about where you put your focus.
What are you most passionate about? What wakes you up in the morning excited to start the day? Or what used to wake you up in the morning excited to start your day? What will you need to do to get back there again?
2. Breathe and move - It is known that deep breathing releases pleasure inducing neurochemicals. Also, 70% of our body’s toxins are released through deep breathing. Physiology is another aspect that plays a big part in how we feel. Try doing this; hunch over, frown and hold your breath. I don’t need to ask how you feel. Your sad physical state automatically sends messages to your brain that you’re not feeling so good. Now try doing this; stand up tall, pull your shoulders back, big smile on your face and walk around the room like you’re a superhero. Even add a little dance in there. If you want to take the breathing and moving further, go to a local yoga session. I can almost guarantee that you will leave feeling like you’re on drugs.
Are you aware of the times you most often hold your breath, frown and hunch over? What are some daily habits that you can do so you can take your breathing and physiology to the next level?
3. Build self-belief - There are some people who have this type of conversation with themselves all day. “Hey Jenny, you know what, you’re totally crap at time management. You are such a loser seriously. Your life is always failing. You are pretty stupid too. I mean come on, you couldn’t even answer that simple question in your last job interview. No wonder why Kevin left you!! His new girlfriend is so much smarter and prettier than you!.........” Now imagine you had a friend like this? Would you keep this friend around for long? So why don’t you start changing this repetitive destructive conversation and start focusing on your qualities. Talk to yourself about what you’re smart at, your talents, achievements and even those times when you didn’t stuff things up and did a pretty fine job. Of course, there is always room for improvement and self-growth, but let’s focus on the good stuff first. Keep repeating this dialogue even if you don’t really believe it at first until you condition yourself to.
Make a list of all your skills, qualities and even achievements. Can you remember one of your proudest moments?
4. Accept life for what it is - People you love will eventually die, you may get heart broken, you will hurt people and others will hurt you back. You might lose some money and you may have to let go of some dreams. Once you understand that life was never meant to be easy and surrender to this fact, is when you could ever truly be happy. Because someday you might be asking why me? And the difference between those who continue to live and grow stronger and others who collapse mentally and never recover is that they accept that life was never meant to be easy, recognise the beauty in it, take responsibility for their own feelings and continue to look ahead.
What are some things that can go wrong in the future? How will you deal with these disappointments?
5. Remind yourself about how you got through this before- You have been in worse situations before that you were able to get out of. Just remember you pulled through last time and your life even got better. You’ve got this. You solved a similar problem and you were able to learn xyz through that time. Write down a plan and strategy of how you got through adversity in the past. A new and improved strategy this time, the lessons learnt last time, and the lessons you may learn this time.
How did you cope with disappointment in the past? What did you have to do to pick yourself up again?
6. Nurture yourself - Imagine you had a friend who was feeling depressed and neglected themselves all week. What would you try and do to help them feel better? Get them out of bed? Convince them to take a shower, eat some healthy food and maybe go for a nice walk on the beach? Perhaps watch a comedy that will make them laugh? You are your own friend. This is the time to focus on you. Make a list of all the simple pleasures that make you feel good and do them.
What are some things you enjoy doing? Do at least 2 of these things a day.
7. Look for resilient role models - Look for role models around you who were able to get out of hardship. Surround yourself with resilient people. Study them, their techniques and thought patterns. Listen to their inspirational stories and take lessons learnt in order to apply to yourself and life. Modelling excellence doesn’t necessarily have to be about just getting out of difficulty. You can model people who achieved success, health, wealth, business growth and successful relationships.
Do you know anyone in your life or famous who is resilient? What were some of their techniques to push through adversity?
8. Surround yourself with a supportive community - Regardless of whether you’re going through a dark time or not, surround yourself with those who want the best for you, help you grow, support your dreams and lift you up. However, having a good support system when you’re in pain is crucial. People who will be there for you and listen no matter what without judgement or ulterior motives. Talking through your feelings may will also help you release negative energy and come up with solutions to move forward.
Is there anyone in your life who you can confide in and talk through your problems no matter what?
9. Always be grateful - This is one of the most important steps on this list. If you’re not grateful for all the blessings in your life, it will be difficult to ever move forward. Studies show that those who have an attitude of gratitude are more resilient. Through my darkest days I kept a gratitude list religiously for at least 6 months. I wrote in my gratitude book at least 4 times a week. For example, I would write… “Today I’m grateful for: 1, nice walk on the beach. 2, feeling the sun on my skin. 3, conversation with my friend who helped me through my dark thoughts. 4, ability to hear the nice music I played at home.” I would write at least 4 to 8 simple things from my day that I appreciated. After several months my mood started to shift.
What are you grateful for from your life overall? What are some things that you are grateful for from today? Make a list!
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I myself have been through several dark times. At one point I couldn’t get out of bed, function or go to work for 6 weeks. I dealt with the pain, tried not to fight it and accepted my situation. But it came to the point where I refused to stay in bed and changed my environment, developed new found hobbies and later on a new purpose. I can’t say that my pain went away automatically, but when I did finally come out of that time, I came out more grateful, resilient and found my purpose. I still do have bad days as everyone else, and suffer from anxiety, but throughout the years and personal development work, I’ve developed tools to deal with it in a non-self-destructive way.
Just remember that many times negative experiences are often lessons which are there to help build our patience and resilience. We can either use those lessons to break, crumble and keep playing the same tragic film in our heads, or let go, look ahead and keep growing.
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Rana Kordahi - Founder and Director of Limitlessminds 12th October 2017
I am fully aware that when we are emotionally suffering, our body hurts, we lack energy, and our thoughts are invaded with self-doubt. Applying many of these steps can therefore be challenging. It is also crucial to feel the pain and accept it for the time being. Don’t try to ignore or block the feelings. Even worse, go out and drink your sorrows away. Because emotions will come back to manifest in even uglier ways later.
There are also certain types of mental illnesses, life experiences and circumstances that may make recovery time take longer. Some people may get stuck in the denial or anger stages of grief for longer than others. It is imperative not to judge ourselves and seek medical help if necessary.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments