When challenges face you, the road gets rocky, or life simply feels overwhelming, what do you do?
Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness per New Oxford American Dictionary.
The Greater Good Science Center has studied resilience and offers these five strategies to build and sustain resilience. I have summarized their wise strategies and encourage you to practice any or all of them when it is needed in your life.
- Change the Narrative—when something unpleasant or negative occurs, one often replays or relives the event over and over in his or her head continually reliving the pain. This can be the experience of your mind spinning in the middle of the night.Suggested strategy: “Creative Writing” aka Journaling can help one move forward by seeing new insights or perspectives on the challenges faced in life. Reframe the situation by listing 3 positive things about the unpleasant, challenging, or negative event that took place.
- Face your Fears—a knee shaking, teeth chattering experience in the present moment or for the future. What fears get in your way of life (for example, public speaking, negotiations, heights, entertaining)? Fears are real and nearly impossible to ignore. We must face the emotions involved specifically.Suggested strategy: “Exposure Therapy.” Slowly expose yourself to the thing that you fear in “small doses” repeatedly. Over time and with practice, confidence and courage becomes greater in confronting the fear.
- Practice Self-Compassion—offering the same kindness and care without judgement one would give to a good friend or loved one.Suggested strategy: “Self-Compassion Break.” When one starts to feel overwhelmed by challenge or stress:
- Be Mindful—notice what you are feeling and say to yourself: “This is a moment of challenge, or “This is a moment of stress,” without overthinking or overanalyzing.
- Remember that You are Not Alone—others experience these challenging and stressful emotions and say to yourself: “Suffering is a part of life,” or “Challenges happen in every job,” or “Others feel this way.”
- Be Kind to Yourself—Place your hands on your heart and say: “I am enough,” or “I give myself compassion,” or “I am stronger than my excuses.”
- Meditate—making time to pause and bring our attention to the present moment. Much time is often spent on the past or the future, regrets, what went wrong or what will.Suggested strategy: Download an app for guided or meditation such as Headspace or “Body Scan.” Find a quiet space, sit or lie comfortably and scan your body head to toe or toe to head. Practice mindful breathing.
- Cultivate Forgiveness—holding onto resentment, grudge or negativity towards another or self holds one back and can act as a barrier to optimal mental and physical health.Suggested strategy: “Letting Go of Anger through Compassion.” Practice a 3–5-minute forgiveness exercise. Set aside a few minutes to create and generate feelings of compassion toward your offender, event, challenge, or self. Bring awareness that all humans can make mistakes, and all have room for growth and healing. Notice any areas of resistance. Meet these areas by reframing the situation with compassion.
Face life with a smile even in times of overwhelm. I sometimes ask myself, “Will this seemingly ‘big deal’, obstacle or challenge really matter in 5 years?” You, like me, are likely guilty of overreacting, overthinking and or overanalyzing at times; however, approaching life with a mindset of resilience makes the journey smoother.
As Tony Robbins says:
“No one’s life is a smooth sail; we all come into stormy weather. But it’s this adversity – and more specifically our resilience – that makes us strong and successful.”
Health & happiness,
Life & Health Coach
Inspire | Empower | Transform