Resilience – what is it?

For those who follow me on facebook you will know I often talkabout resilience.   But what is it and how do you get some?  The following is the definition most of you agreed with on my facebook post:

The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties?

To me resilience is more than this and it interests me why some people seem to be able to  cope with horrendous experiences and bounce back while others don’t?.  I’ve just finished reading “The Choice” by Edith Eger and the theme of the book is that no matter what life throws at you, you always have a choice in how you deal with it.  Edith Eger is a Holocaust survivor and she tells her story of having her mother and father killed in Auchwitz where she was kept in apalling conditions with her sister.   The suffering they endured was heartbreaking but despite this she survived and today is a Psychologist who devotes her life to helping others.  She remains optimistic and positive despite everything she endured and witnessed.

How can you improve your Resilience?

Most of us thankfully won’t endure what Edith endured but we will have bad things happen to us from time to time.  Unfortunately that is life.  Sometimes it feels like some people get more than their fair share of the bad things and not enough of the good things but how we choose to deal with them can make all the difference in helping us cope.  I wouldn’t insult anyone by saying you can choose to not feel bad.  Some things are so bad it would be impossible to not feel pain but learning to be resilient can help you move on in as positive way as possible.  The following are some tips on how to strengthen and build up your resilience:

Be Aware – taking time to notice what’s going on in your head can make a big difference.  Sometimes we’re so busy being busy we don’t take time to just question ourselves.

Take control of your thinking – It’s estimated that  we have around 70,000 thoughts a day so trying to control them all is not recommenned.   However, it’s fine to just realise that they are just thoughts and not the real us.  Focusing on positive  optimistic thoughts can help and if practiced often enough can become the dominant thoughts.

Rituals – having positive rituals you do every single day builds your emotional strength and helps you cope when things go wrong.  These rituals can be getting up early, exercising regularly, eating healthy food etc.

Exercise your brain – it’s not just your body that needs regular exercise.  Keeping your brain active also helps and ways to do that are reading, doing puzzles, Sudoku etc.

Step outside your comfort zone – stepping outside your comfort zone helps you grow as a person.  Every time to face a fear you grow in strength and confidence.

Do what you love – doing what you love makes you stronger emotionally.  This can be knitting, hillwalking, collecting stamps, marathon running….. whatever it is that makes YOU feel good.

Embrace change – change happens to everybody and fighting against it only makes you feel worse.  Recognise that change is inevitable and embracing it will help you cope better.

Develop a strong social network – surrounding yourself with like-minded people will make sure you have people you can share your issues with and receive support from.

Building your confidence every day with small steps will help you become more resilient and able to deal with whatever life throws at you.  If you need help with any of this please let me know.