Resilience is coined as the ability to bounce back after experiencing adverse life conditions. Ironically, attending and graduating from the “School of Hard Knocks” plays a key role in how a person learns to become resilient. Studies show that many kids who grew up in adverse living conditions seem to demonstrate a richer depth of resilience in adulthood.
Resilient people tend to have experienced numerous challenges in the course of their development and have come out the other side. Resilient people have traveled the rocky road of life and have managed to either keep their balance or pick themselves up when they have tripped and fallen. This skill set actually works best when it is internalized early in human development.
Ultimately, it seems to me, resilience is best described as an evolved and inwardly dynamic quality. If an individual has an internal mechanism for accessing their higher thinking, they can connect to dynamics such as faith in themselves, courage and hope for the future. They are able to tap into the resilience that quietly rests in the recesses of the higher mind until needed and then they become proactive during times of difficulty and oppression. The Rapid Advance Process, outlined and practiced in the Just Stop! series of books can provide the pathway to the resilient mind.
Interaction with your “inner critic” is the launching pad for how resilient you will be in the face of adversity. Always stay conscious of your “inner voice” that is constantly chattering away. One’s ability to overcome difficult circumstances is directly linked to this internal dialogue. When events become overwhelming, when fight, flight or freeze brain chemicals surge, when things go wrong, resilience can emerge as the capacity to still find the faith, determination and reason to cope, despite all odds and more often than not, help an individual to create ways to get through. Scientifically, this includes driving your neurological firing away from the danger center of your mid-brain to the upper left hemisphere, where positive emotions and rational thinking take place so that hope for improvement and a plan to get there will prevail.
Work on building the following resiliency skills:
1. Clarify your values.
Hard times usually offer an opportunity to clarify one’s values. Resilient people know the difference between a disappointment and a tragedy. Resilient people learn to ask themselves “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” If you really think about it, things are not as important as we give often them the power to be. Did you lose your job? There are a myriad of emerging job markets. Getting a divorce? Yes, it is painful, but are you doing things that help you find your true power and strength? Fighting with a friend? That hurts too. But if the relationship is worth anything, the willingness to have a peaceful interaction will usually get you to some type of resolution. Having financial problems in a tough economy? It’s a problem, sure. But it’s a problem that can usually be solved with some planning and diligence.
2. Build and maintain a network of caring people.
Tough times usually help us to recognize who are our true friends. Build upon this network of authentic people. Be present for others who are needing to tap into their resilience and they will be present for you when you could use some help. Resilient people make the effort to stay connected and to be on the giving as well as receiving end of the relationship. They are the kind of people who will offer up a useful referral, who call when they hear about something that is challenging someone, who write quick emails and take a second to check in with a struggling person. They make themselves available for someone who is sick and they are present during someone’s dark days. They are the people who manage to have breakfast now and then with a friend or bring goodies for folks in the office. This isn’t about “kissing up.” This is about rising above the level of a typical fair-weather friend. Good friends help each other through tough times. Who they are becomes truly obvious in the face of adversity. Nurture those relationships.
3. Practice mindfulness.
Resilient people can find their “center” and stay balanced during turbulent times. A resilient person is someone who finds a useful way to understand even the most difficult obstacle or hurt. Dealing with a painful event mindfully can help make us stronger. Suffering can help us develop compassion for others. A set-back may in fact pave the way for something better to happen. Does this sound like a bit much? …Fake it til you make it.
4. Develop your sense of humor.
Resilient people can appreciate the comedy frequently inherent in tragedy. Even dark comedy can make us laugh. When all else fails, resilient people can laugh at themselves.
5. Give other people some slack.
Resilient people set realistic expectations of themselves and others. They understand that people aren’t always their best selves when stressed, or hurt, or dealing with trauma. Their reaction when someone upsets them is more often curiosity than anger. Before cutting someone off or out, they want to know the facts and gather more information. They are patient and excellent listeners to the other person’s perspective And they want to work with the other person to make things right again.
6. Make a plan.
Finally, resilient people aren’t upset by change. In fact, they often use it to spring into action. Change is their impetus to create a plan. Resilient people proactively gather information, brainstorm their options and commit to a combination of possibilities that will help their situation to improve. They are open to thinking outside of the box.
Most of these skills may seem obvious to you. Learn the five steps of the Rapid Advance Process outlined in our Just Stop! series so that you can build and strengthen your resilience. The additional self-confidence that results is invaluable as you continue your journey down the rocky road called life.
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I am a firm believer in adversity building character. I am an alcoholic who also has mental health challenges, and I consider myself very resilient. I agree that it has a lot to do with rational and positive thinking but my faith in a higher power has been what’s gotten me through the toughest challenges of my life: child abuse, PTSD, hurricanes, homelessness, alcoholism and now recovery. I think most women just need someone they can reach out to and totally be themselves with; someone who might hold the hope for them until they are ready to take on the challenges of life. I also think it helps to look at the “bigger picture”, and then to take action.