In the final of this series, I talk about ‘resilience’, and the soft skills that help build this particular trait. First though, consider your own levels of resilience by reflecting back over the past year. Can you recall the challenges you have faced and overcome? It’s probably more than you imagine. It's also worth reflecting on as a reminder of those inner resources you were able to pull out of the bag when you needed them most. You are stronger than you think. It's also testament to the strength of the human spirit. And whilst we are all super happy to say goodbye to 2020, I imagine 2021 will be very different. My sense is that it's going to be a rollercoaster of a year so let's try and enjoy the ride as best we can - here's the last of the soft skills that I'm sharing...for now!
What is Resilience?
When I think of resilient people, my mind goes to politicians - like them or not, they must get some of the worst flack, abuse and negative publicity and still show up the next day. That requires a very tough outer skin. It also puts our own perhaps more 'petit' dramas into perspective. Resilience then is having the ability to bounce back quickly from adverse situations – some people have more or less resilience than others. That said, your levels of resilience can be increased over time and even a small increase can make a significant difference to how you deal with the trials and tribulations of life. Below are some of the soft skills that when practised support you to be more resilient in your day to day life.
Notice your thinking patterns - don’t believe your thoughts
When a challenging situation arises or when things don’t go according to plan, it can trigger a stream of thoughts that only serve to cause you more pain and anguish. This default response is not based on fact but a collection of thoughts and beliefs that stem from past conditioning; very often they are not representative of the truth. Resilient people are able to bypass this circuitry – it doesn’t meant they don’t default with a similar response, it's just that they get back on track more quickly because they don’t dwell on the negatives or believe the story they've created. They shift into a different gear based on how to 'move on', 'fix it' and by asking 'what’s the learning'.
The Practice - In the last series, I talked about mind management and the action here is very much about mental discipline which gets stronger with practice. When you notice your thoughts going down the wrong lane, course correct and come back to centre, ask what’s the learning, what now and move on. For a more in-depth look at this, go to Mindfulambition.net which gives a really good overview on the subject.
Power of Self Reflection
Resilient people reflect on what happened, take the lessons learned, see the positives and apply the new learning, hence 'event plus reflection = progress'. And the key thing here is they progress and move forward– they don’t replay events over and over again. A quote from Til Keane reminds us that,
“Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a gift. That's why it's called the present.”
The Practice - Recall a challenging situation and simply note down whatever comes up for you under the following headings:
Adopt the F**k it approach
This is actually a thing – there is a book called 'F**k' it by John C Parkin and in one of his opening lines he explains that,
'when you say 'f**k it', you let go of your hold on something, usually something that's causing you pain'.
I haven’t actually read the book but I do use the phrase regularly. This is a particularly useful phrase to adopt when you are worried about what other people think of you or when a work colleague throws you to the wolves. The challenge is how to not let yourself be affected by other peoples opinions and this is one of the best ways I've found and it works pretty well much of the time.
The Practice - Instead of getting angry or upset and wasting good energy doing so, just say 'f**k it' and carry on with your day.
Fall in love with yourself - give yourself more self-care
When you care about your 'self' and feel grateful to your body and mind for what it gives you every day despite what we throw at it, you'll feel a sense wanting to look after it more. Resilient people practice self care - they look after their wellbeing in different ways, they have boundaries and know when to say no. They will notice when their energy is low and course correct, they surround themselves with people who will support their wellbeing i.e who they enjoy being around vs toxic people; they are constantly responding to their environment in a away that keeps them in control rather than succumbing to other peoples needs and demands.
The Practice - How aware are you about your wellbeing needs? Do you ignore them or do you hear yourself always saying you need to do x y and z and never get round to it. If you know you need to do something to improve your wellbing, taking action usually comes down to it being a priorty rather than a choice. If you had a tyre puncture on your car, whatever your plans, you’d make sure getting it fixed was a No.1 priority because so many things rely on the car being roadworthy – that’s how you need to think about your wellbeing!
Laugh more - don't take yourself or life so seriously
Is laughing really a skill I hear you say? Well....it might need to be relearned if you don't practice it much. As children we laughed up to 400 times a day and the average adult laughs 17 times a day - allegedly! Either way, when was the last time you laughed at yourself or had a really good chuckle? Laughing is seriously good for you. Most of the things we think really matter, don't actually matter at all. Letting go of what you think is really important is one of the most liberating things you can experience.
One of my practices is to be notice from time to time how much I laugh measured against my mood and level of seriousness. If I find I haven't laughed very much in a given period, I take action to remedy the situation. Sometimes it happens that we just get lost in the little world inside of our heads and need to remember to come out and smell the roses. That's one of the benefits of awareness - noticing and course correcting. Laughter has so many benefits - take a look at these (from floatworks.com)
Now that we know why laughter over seriousness is good for our wellbeing and resilience, here's the practice - next time you get offended over something or someone says to or about you, use the f**k it approach or choose to see the funny side of it by saying 'now, that's interesting..."
And on that final note, I wish you an awesome New Year!
With thanks to Unsplash - Photo by Sincerely Media
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