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Resilience – the workout for the psyche and soul

September 10, 2017

It’s not about growing a tougher skin when times are hard but developing resilience.

They say it’s not how one flourishes when the times are good but how one survives when the chips are down that is the key to success.

Fear of failure has some people so mired in the agony of the so-called “comfort zone” that they spend their years living with regret and dismay at not following their heart’s desire.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts,” said Winston Churchill and often when we look back at times that didn’t work out for us the truly wise can find a silver lining. Maybe something good came from adversity? In retrospect it was the best thing that could’ve happened? Or you developed strengths and skills you didn’t know you possessed until that hiccup came along?

But right now you may not see it that way. If you’re going through a tough time – heart ache, uncertainty, big changes and anxiety about the dreaded unknown it can be hard to see beyond this time to a better place; let alone see it as a learning curve.

What are your options? Well, you could rant and rage into the ether about life’s great injustices but crying “it’s just not fair” helps very little and is a weak salve that has an immature ring to it. You could nurture bitterness and cultivate a victim attitude with a “why me?” or “just my luck” self-pitying stance and who could blame you? Sometimes life delivers one bum hand after another. But who wants the crow’s feet?

Finally when all else fails you could follow up this tough time with a bout of despair and depression which could leave a lifelong legacy of cynicism and distrust in life. None of the above please.

But many people do cling on to mishaps, let downs and disappointments from the past as if they were a life raft for ever more. It is a way of hiding, throwing in the towel and not taking responsibility, it can provide a get-out clause or excuse for a life half lived. But it’s OK, say the fatalities of failure, I would’ve been a contender if it hadn’t have been for the unfortunate X, Y and Z that happened 20 years ago.

We’re all having to dig deep these days. But not just profoundly into our pockets but into our psyches too to help mend and make do in uncertain times. Redundancy, relationship crises, health issues and financial worries are becoming an increasing life burden.

When the future is foggy we struggle to find a rock to cling to. We want black and white answers when 50 shades of grey offers an unexciting and altogether unsexy prospect. So the buzzword to hold on to is resilience. Simply put it’s the ability to draw into ourselves to find the reserve we need to help us through tough times.

We all have choices in life and the most powerful choice of all is selecting which thought, attitude and belief we decide to go by. It’s not a “Pollyanna” positive attitude that is all about suppression of real feelings or denial of what is going here. No the key here is the wisdom to accept that which you can’t change and learn fortitude and patience through stormy weather. For even this shall pass.

The young poet John Keats described this strength through adversity as Negative Capability “that is, when a man (or woman) is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason…”. Research has shown that those with a strong developed sense of “negative capability” are the happiest as they don’t let set backs or the unknown drag them down into a spiral of despair and existential unraveling.

If you are currently struggling with something painful and beyond your control which is keeping you mired in misery then you have my sympathy and my offer of a free half hour coaching session applies. But also here are a few coaching thoughts to consider which will help build your resilience:

  • Don’t dwell on things you cannot control which will cause you the frustration and pain and try to find a place of acceptance of what is.
  • Have faith that things will work out eventually.
  • Gently release the pain, let it go and let life happen again.
  • Stay in the moment. The now is all we have.
  • Maintain a positive view of life and visualize what you want.
  • Remember how you survived a tragedy or crisis in the past. Many people report having more confidence in themselves after a crisis and some even have a deeper appreciation for life. You did it then you can again.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat well, sleep and exercise to keep yourself healthy. This is especially important during times of stress.
  • Have compassion for yourself. You are feeling frightened and unsure – acknowledge the feelings don’t fight them – this is how it is right now.
  • Work out a next step. Focus on what you can do then do it.
  • Concentrate on moving forward and finding the answer not rehashing “if only’s”.
  • Find the wisdom in what you are going through. Turn it into strength and learn from it.
  • Decide if you can survive this nothing can stop you.
  • And finally doubt kills more dreams that failure will.

Don’t give up the day dream.

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