Suzy Greaves’ column: How to be resilient

Times have been tough recently – what with the recession and all and some people are dealing it with it better than others. Why? Because some people are naturally more resilient.

Resiliency is a powerful attribute to develop in challenging times. Some people learn young how to bounce back – usually the hard way when they learn as children that they have to look after themselves and find a way to cope. Perhaps there was no one there to rescue them and they had to use their own inner resources to survive and thrive. The more challenges you face and find a way through, the more resilient you become as you start to build evidence that you are strong enough to handle anything.
Sometimes challenging childhoods can come in useful.

But can resilience be learnt? Yes! How? Start creating a new belief system that all challenges (be it divorce, illness, rejection) can be our greatest learning experiences and can be an incredibly life affirming and confidence building process.
After all, there is no such thing as something out there that will give us ultimate security. But adopt a belief system of ‘No matter what, I can handle it’ and you create your own inner security. 

Firstly stop wishing the situation is different. Accept what has happened. Face the facts full on. Then get very practical and brainstorm with loved ones/friends/colleagues with a solution focussed mindset on what you want to create next. Ask  – what has worked? What did you do well? What did you learn? If this was a new way to show you how to be/work/eat (or whatever), what radical action could you take now? Make sure you don’t blame anyone but rather take responsibility for your part and then make the decision of what you want to create next.

Beware of catastrophic thinking and projecting into the future. ( I’ll lose the house, the car, everything’) and keep bringing yourself back to the present. Make ‘I will handle this day by day’ your daily mantra. And get practical. Create a realistic 3 month plan of how you intend to handle your debts/redundancy. E.g. Which organisations can give you free advice? Which recruitment agencies can you contact? What other ways could there by of earning extra money? (ebay/car boot sales/starting a kitchen top business?) And then set yourself daily goals. When you find yourself worrying, go back to your list, and take one positive action. Keep repeating ‘I’m doing my best to turn this situation around and I’m making it happen.’

Resilience is a state of mind. We can all learn it. And in insecure times, we can discover the ultimate security – faith in ourselves.
Four ways to bounce back:
1. Plot your progress. You don’t just bounce back overnight. It’s a process. Officially there are four stages of dealing with loss: Stage one: denial, stage two: depression, stage three: anger and stage four: acceptance. You usually feel numb when in denial, utterly bereft in the depressed stage, aggressive and furious in the anger stage and calm and ready to move on in stage four. It helps to know where you are in the process as it helps you to realise that each stage won’t be like this forever. Let ‘this too shall pass’ be your mantra.
2. Ask the right questions – Keeping yourself stuck in victim mode by asking – why is this happening to me gets you no where. Empower yourself by asking positive questions like – what am I learning about myself right now? How will this make stronger? How could this be a very positive turning point in my life?

3. Rant, moan, wail to your best friend. Inform them that they don’t have to fix you, ask them just listen to you and nod. Get it all out of your system but set a time limit of 2 hours. Then write down 10 things for which you are grateful.

4. Focus on what is working. If you are constantly focussing on what isn’t working, you’ll get more of the same. Identify three things in three areas of your life that work beautifully and do more of them e.g. You love spending time with your partner so organise an extra date this week, you love your yoga class so book a weekend workshop this month, you love reading a new author you’ve discovered – buy their next book.

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