“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.”
– Elizabeth Edwards
Resilience requires constant attention. Unfortunately, it is not something that you can just learn one day, and that’s it, you are resilient forever and always! I don’t know about you, but with things that require consistent effort, no matter how low level that effort is, you eventually stray from the path, or become complacent. This is a phenomenon I have found within many areas of my life, from keeping an eye on what I’m eating, to my mental health, from having a consistent exercise schedule to finding quality time for my marriage. All of these things require a realignment of vigilance and focus from time to time.
Resilience, after what we have been through, and with the shift back to a more ‘normal’ way of living, is more important than ever. But what is resilience? And how do we go about building it within ourselves? You may already know. You may not, Or perhaps you used to know but could do with a refresher. Here are a few basic steps and tips to help you in doing just that…
1. You Cannot Stop Change
When a dream or a way of living falls away, it can be hard, distressing, painful. Change is part of life, and over lamenting the loss of something, or resisting a change that you have no way of controlling means that you take focus and energy away from the things that you can. Of course, we should give some weight to circumstances that alter and take time to process them. But to linger on them only fuels a spiral into negative thoughts and unhelpful energy.
2. Create and Nurture Relationships
Don’t take any relationship for granted. Even relationships family members and very old friends, who it would take a lot of bad blood to lose, need to be nurtured and cherished. Keeping trust and connection alive means that a support network will always be there when you need it. Being able to support others is also a huge part of feeling sustained and purposeful.
3. Be Decisive
Making decisions in a timely manner is a great way to stay on top. When we ponder and procrastinate, it is often because we fear getting things wrong. By accepting that sometimes things go wrong, and that is OK, you will be able to make decisions more quickly and to hold situations more lightly. Also remember, that failure is learning, and learning is another fantastic contributor to personal resilience.
Decisiveness also avoids the feeling that you have wasted time sitting on a fence.
4. Search for Learning
Seek out opportunities to earn and grow. This is a good mantra in both your personal and professional life. As a freelancer, I work on many short jobs throughout the year. When I consider a job, I ask myself four things…
- Is the workload worth the money?
- Will I enjoy it?
- Will it progress my career?
- What will I learn?
I need a ‘yes’ for at least two of these. But the question that arguably holds the most weight is usually the latter. Opportunities for learning are always of value because knowledge of your field, and of yourself, can only boost your confidence if you just remember to use those lessons to your advantage.
5. Like Yourself
Be kind to yourself. If you are feeling down about an aspect of your personality or skillset, make sure to remind yourself of what you think is great about you. We all have our flaws, but humans tend to focus on them over the things that make us great. Always try to remember what you love about yourself.
It’s an old tip, but one worth remembering. Exercise needn’t be an intense hour-long gym session five days a week. You can get helpful endorphins just as easily from taking a walk every day, doing a bit of housework (tidying also makes you feel productive, which lifts the mood) or taking ten minutes in the morning to have a good stretch.
7. Do Things You Love Without Judging Yourself
It is a societal issue that many of us feel a little guilty about doing things we enjoy. This can be because we live in a time where work is still king, or it might be because society says the stuff you are into is not the ‘right thing to be into’. Resilience relies on you being happy. So, do what makes you happy and free yourself from the potential judgement of others, but, more importantly, from your own self-judgment. Order the pizza. Watch the movie. Have a night out. Wear the dress.
By Chris Thomson
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