Can you get through life without getting hurt? No.
Can we outrun our troubles and pain? No.
One of my beliefs in life is that most everything that brings us joy and love also brings us sadness and pain. This means that life isn’t always going to be a bowl of cherries. There are going to be times where it is pretty ugly actually.
How we get through these difficult times depends on our ability to be resilient. Resilience won’t make our troubles go away, but it can help us look beyond our problems and see the potential for the future.
So how do we deal with life’s difficulties? We allow the shock, the sorrow, the frustration, the rage, and the anger to wash over us like rain and when it begins to taper we somehow know exactly what to do. It may take time to turn things around, but as we do we often discover that we are stronger than we were before.
So how are your coping skills? Do you fall apart at the first signs of adversity? Do you isolate yourself from the world until the rough waters are still? Perhaps resilience is something you’d like to develop in yourself or even strengthen just a little. Following are five strategies to help you strengthen your resilience.
Obviously, you don’t become resilient by ignoring or skirting around your troubles. Resilience allows us to roll with the punches when bad things happen. It’s not about soldiering through, toughing it out, or going it alone. In fact, in times of pain and discomfort we absolutely need to take advantage of support.
Young children don’t hesitate to take comfort from others. Yet as we age we often start to shy away from it. Unfortunately, it’s simply not healthy to isolate ourselves. Being resilient is asking for and accepting support. And it is absolutely OK to ask for exactly what you need, not what you think is most convenient for others.
I know this can be challenging for many of us as, we so often want to give so much yet don’t want to inconvenience anyone. Consider, however: if there were no receivers, there would be no gifts. In times of need please give yourself permission to ask and receive from others.
You can seek support from your family, friends, spiritual community, work place, or other groups you are involved with. Imagine that if someone reached out to you for support, you’d probably be the first in line to help them. Allow others to give this gift to you.
Also, if support from your communities isn’t enough to help you stay afloat, or if life starts to feel overwhelming or hopeless, it could be time to seek support from a professional. Guidance from a mental health practitioner can often help significantly when trying to get through loss, devastation, challenges, and pain.
2. Self care.
It’s critically important that you take time to care for yourself. Sleep, movement, and activities promoting rejuvenation such as engaging in your favorite hobbies, meditation, prayer, and yoga are some of the best things you can do during and after difficult times.
Treating yourself to massage, facial, reiki, or acupuncture are also excellent therapies as well. There’s nothing better than healing touch.
Also, make sure you nourish your body with healthy food. If friends and colleagues offer to bring you food, do let them know your preferences. If you’re craving comfort foods, so be it, but skip McDonalds and fast food all together. Do your best to get healthier, home-made, or from-scratch meals with salads and plenty of vegetables. Your friends would be honored to cook for you. Or another idea is to get meals delivered right to your door. Two programs you might want to check out are: http://www.freshology.com/ and http://www.healthychefcreations.com
3. Embrace possibility.
Without a doubt, change can be difficult, but change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, one way of looking at change is to view it as an opening to possibility and opportunity. This reframe of change in itself can cause a ripple affect of positive outcomes.
For example, I once had a client whose husband suddenly lost his job due to a buy out and budget cuts. They were both in shock and suddenly felt the heavy financial burden of being with one less significant income. When I asked about the work he had been doing, my client shared that he had been commuting for over 90 minutes a day. It turns out that this layoff was a blessing. Within two months he had found a new job that was less than 10 minutes away. That’s over an hour each day that he got to spend extra time with his wife and kids. Plus, as a bonus, he ended up loving his new job even more.
Sometimes life’s gifts come in strange wrapping paper and it isn’t always obvious how wonderful they really are until we embrace them.
4. Reconnect with you.
Even if you’ve experienced a traumatic event and feel traumatized, there is still a part of you that is strong, that is not traumatized. That’s the part of you that you want to connect with. Allow that part to take a stand for your purpose in life. If you’re not sure what that is, it’s time to define it now.
Your purpose, unless otherwise directed by the divine, is yours to declare. What or who are you going to be? How do you want to feel? What legacy do you want to leave in this world? It’s not about what you do, it’s about what you were made for, who you were meant to serve.
Consider writing a mission statement for your life. It should come from the heart with emotion, and when you say it out loud you should feel powerful with vitality, and ultimately it should be pulling you forward towards your greatness.
5. One step at a time.
Usually, problems don’t disappear on their own. And often, they feel so huge that they seem like mountains that you’ll never get over the top of. Instead of being discouraged by the magnitude of the work or struggle ahead, put your attention on the one step in front of you.
It’s good to keep in mind where you’re headed, but don’t get fixated on it. Putting your focus on the next step you’re taking will allow you to keep moving forward.
Being resilient can take time to develop; and remember that even if you feel discouraged or if you struggle to cope through crisis, resilience can be learned. Though I’ve mentioned a few strategies to use above, there are no right or wrong ways to be resilient; and keep in mind that resilience varies from person to person.