How much better would your life be if you were unbreakable? If you knew that no matter what happened that you would survive and persevere — and that maybe you’d even come out a little better? We cannot escape pain, difficulty, failure, tragedy, and heartache. Sooner or later it will find us despite our best efforts to protect ourselves. Instead of trying to bob and weave what life throws at us, I’d rather have the comfort of knowing that I can take life’s best shot and be able to get back up and move forward. To me, that’s empowerment. Having that kind of personal fortitude and resilience is a game changer. Instead of being dogged by fear and uncertainty, you will have inner peace and confidence that you will survive.
The American Psychological Association (APA) focused their research on resilience after the tragic events of 9/11. Resilience, according to the APA, is the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, and from sources of stress such as work pressures, health, family or relationship problems. They found that a resilient person is not only able to handle the crisis of the moment more effectively, but that they are also able to recover and get back on their feet more quickly.
According to the APA, you can create more personal resilience with these ten tips:
1. Make connections. Personal resilience doesn’t mean it’s all up to you. Having good relationships with close family members, friends, or others is critical to resilience and well-being. When tragedy strikes, the worst thing you can do is avoid friends and loved ones. Start cultivating your relationships today, so when you need support, you have a whole network of people to help.
2. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. Don’t fall into the trap of all-or-nothing thinking, which says that everything is either perfect or terrible. There are always shades of gray. Focus less on the past and more on the future you want. Also, look for exceptions. In Solution Focused Therapy, exceptions are those times when the problem is gone or at least not as bad. Are there times in the current crisis you’re your problems don’t feel so insurmountable?
3. Accept that change is a part of living. Know that whatever you’re going through others have experienced before. You are not alone — change, in whatever form, is a natural part of life.
4. Move toward your goals. When the present is difficult, focus on a better future. What do you want your life to be? What goals do you have that you can start moving toward?
5. Take decisive actions. Avoid checking out by taking whatever control you have over your situation and doing something (however small) about it.
6. Look for opportunities for self-discovery. One of my favorite sayings is “Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn.” Tragedy and pain can be an opportunity to re-evaluate your life — where you’ve been and where you want to go. Ask yourself the tough questions and look for ways to grow.
7. Nurture a positive view of yourself. Be careful how you talk to yourself. Don’t accept blame when it isn’t warranted. Focus on your strengths and abilities to get you through.
8. Keep things in perspective. When something bad happens, it can color all aspects of our life. Your job is to put it into perspective. Don’t let one bad event taint your view of the other areas in your life.
9. Maintain a hopeful outlook. While easier said than done, just watch how you explain or think about your situation. As ancient Greek philosopher said, “People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.” When possible, take the more positive and optimistic view.
10. Take care of yourself. Do what you can to sleep well and eat well. Try to get some exercise and do things you enjoy. If you feel like nothing is enjoyable, do things that make you feel less horrible. In short, be nice to yourself.
Being unbreakable doesn’t mean that you can’t cry or need to act tough or mask your feelings by putting on a happy face. Being unbreakable means you give yourself the freedom to break, knowing you have the tools to put yourself back together again.
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