Life is a flow of wonderful times, good times, not so good times and bad times. All we can be sure of is that there will be constant change. We never know how long our current troubles will last, or if they will get worse before they start to get better. The light you see at the end of the tunnel may well be another train!
Resilient people have the ability to keep going when the going is tough. They have reserves of inner strength that help them adapt to change. They understand that events in the world are neutral: then they choose how to interpret and react to them. They stay focused on what must be done, and they keep moving forward.
Of the many definitions of resilience, one of the best is, “the quality of being springy". How springy are you? Can you roll with the punches? Do you stay optimistic? Do you bounce back?
Use the guidelines below to build up your own resilience and get your bounce back.
Becoming a victim is a choice. Decide not to be a victim. Empower yourself with words like, “I can. . . I choose. . . I'll do it". When you say, “I can't. . . I have to. . . They made me. . . " you immediately give away your power.
Being resilient doesn't mean you ignore your unhappiness; it doesn't mean you never ask for help from your friends; it doesn't mean you feel strong every day! It does mean you understand the powerful impact of negative thoughts on your well being. You know that negative thinking and indecision drain your energies. You know that the longer you ignore a problem, the more you are going to worry about it.
Start to be aware of your thoughts. Challenge the negative ones. Are they rational? Do the facts support them? Use affirmations to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Choose your battles
It's hard to keep bouncing back, when your first attempts to fix a problem haven't worked. It's tempting to give up, ignore the problem and avoid thinking about future consequences. That never works! You get deeper into debt, end up in a career dead end, or find yourself in a relationship that's getting worse, not better.
Which of your problems still have to be resolved? Where do you need to bounce back? Identify priorities and decide on the action you can take. Then take it!
Resilient people focus on solving problems. They know when they don't know. They do not assume they have all the answers or that they have the right answers. When things go wrong they are the first to ask questions. When they know the facts, they form an opinion, then they move to action. People who lack resilience start off by blaming others for their misfortune. That only increases their feelings of being victimized and powerless. Their negative emotions take over, their thinking skills are paralysed, and they become less and less able to take positive action.
Learn to separate facts and events from your own emotional interpretations. Your problem solving skills will improve, and so will your self esteem and self confidence.
Realise you're part of the problem
If you're resilient you are aware of how you behave and the impact of your behaviour on others. You accept responsibility for your decisions and their consequences. You look back so you learn from your mistakes: then you take the learning and move on. You don't continue with self defeating habits: you don't indulge in self criticism: you don't put yourself down and you don't’ expect failure.
Accepting that in every situation, you are in some way part of the problem, is one of the toughest tests of your resilience. When you can do it, you are more likely to approach others without arrogance or accusation. When you communicate more openly, you share more information, and resolve problems more easily.
Look at the challenges you are facing. In what ways have you been contributing to the problems?
Make it safe to talk
Resilient people are courageous, not foolhardy. They know they need to get results. They also know that developing trusting, respectful relationships makes problem solving easier. They know how to make even sensitive conversations safe. They talk to the right people, no matter how difficult.
When you know how to make a conversation safe, everyone feels comfortable putting forward what they know, what they think about it, and even how they feel. With all that on the table you really find out what is going on. You can deal with reality. When people feel threatened and unsafe in a conversation, they don't speak up. Real issues aren't uncovered. No surprise then that the proposed solutions don't solve the problem!
How good are you at making conversations safe so people talk openly? Do others share their information, opinions and feelings with you? Do you know what is really going on?
Maureen Collins has a B. Sc.degree in Psychology from Edinburgh University and over 25 years of management and consulting experience in the corporate world. She specialises in communication skills in different contexts: leading and managing, teambuilding, handling change, and performance management. Her consulting practice, Straight Talk, trains people in the skills to handle difficult conversations, on difficult topics, with difficult people. Read more on http://www.straight-talk.co.za