While change is inevitable, you have the power to manage the process and navigate your way through times that feel tough. While you may want things to remain the same, that’s like asking for blue skies every day. It wouldn’t take long for the world’s seasons to be out of whack and drought to be the new norm.
Change usually needs a shift in mindset because most change can bring new opportunities, even if it doesn’t feel that way in the beginning.
To manage change, building the resilience to ride the waves of change through all the ups and downs – will help you not only survive, but thrive.
What is resilience?
Resilience is a state of mind and a state of presence.
Resilience is as much resistance to the desire to give up as it is to understand the science behind why change can be difficult to manage.
A resilient person has the skills to cope with stressful emotions when things get tough. These challenging times are our 'teachers' and so it's worthwhile paying close attention to our automatic responses and learning the skills needed to ease through change and stressful situations.
Most challenges follow similar patterns. Patterns that put you out of your comfort zone. It's here that you'll see your default thinking patterns that are influencing how you feel and what you may do next if you don't interrupt the old pattern.
If you let your thoughts control you, then your emotions can swing out of control leaving you to act in ways that compound any stress or anxiety you’re feeling.
One of the keys in changing this old story is by believing in yourself. Believing you have the ability to get through tough times.
While no one is ‘born’ resilient – you can learn resilience and by doing this you'll improve how you manage challenging situations.
Here are 10 ways to develop your resilience so you're ready when you need your personal strengths and self-belief to be most present.
1. Change your thoughts, change your results
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
Everyone makes mistakes during their life. The biggest mistake of all though is continuing to make the same mistake over and over again and not do anything different.
While each of us is programmed to an extent by our biology, we are not slaves to it. When mistakes turn into life patterns, the best thing to do is stop and work out firstly what the pattern is and then secondly the ways to break the pattern which will lead to different results.
This takes honesty. Being honest with yourself allows you to look at your responses to challenges and see how far they may be taking you from your core values.
Take a moment to write down your core values. Ask yourself why they are important to you. Reflect on your current situation. Write down how you want things to be instead of what you're experiencing now.
2. With changed thoughts, emotions are more easily managed
Instead of believing your emotions are beyond your control, flip your thinking and believe (because it's true) that your thoughts influence your emotions. If you believe you can get through tough times, you will.
Choosing to feel calm during stressful times takes skill. Skills are built through practice. Practice, just like any performer knows, leads to mastery.
Mastering the tiny moments, for example, when your breathing may be shallow and rushed is an important skill that will help you to monitor your emotions. Noticing your breathing, the gentle inward and outward flow of a steady breath helps calm your nervous system. When you're present to what your body is telling you, you're one step closer to building resilience during challenging moments.
Self awareness builds resilience so:
- Notice changes to your breathing.
- Notice changes to your thoughts.
- Notice changes to your heart beat.
- Notice changes to how the blood is moving through your body.
Remind yourself that the challenge you’re facing will pass. Remind yourself that you’ve overcome problems in the past and that those skills will help you manage challenges again.
Ask yourself what you did during previous times. Our past is usually littered with clues filled with resilient moments you can draw from.
3. Remain on course
Pretending nothing is wrong doesn’t work. Facing the challenge, acknowledging your fears and building a bridge to where you want to go by thinking through the outcome you want are resilience building strategies.
When you take the time to see the best possible result you desire, then you know you’re shifting your focus from problem-thinking to solution-thinking.
This is the hallmark of resilient people.
Once you know the outcome you want, then begin by asking yourself what’s one clue you could look out for that will give you the confidence to know you’re on the right path.
4. Challenges offer personal growth
While living the easy life is what most ideally prefer, true personal growth occurs through facing challenges and working your way through them.
The internal resources you have to navigate your way through tough times are inside you. It’s in finding them and recalling times in your life when you used your confidence and positive outlook to move above and beyond problems that had the chance of pulling you down.
The upside of problems is the growth of not only your personal strength and courage, but your insight into seeing how negative patterns have a habit of playing out in our lives unless managed with a positive intention.
5. Resist the ‘frozen’ state
Our body is wired to respond to challenges by ‘fleeing, fighting or freezing’. While running away from a problem is one response, it’s not always the most positive one (unless there’s a large hungry teeth-gnashing animal involved).
You may encounter times when fighting for what you believe is right, and it may be the best way forward (as long as the ‘fight’ is respectful).
And you may be familiar with the ‘frozen’ state where you feel as if hit by a ‘stun gun’ and your best efforts to do anything positive in the situation wither, leaving you unable to think, feel or act.
If you’re familiar with the frozen state and find it a ‘default’ state during challenging moments, then it’s time to build some better strategies.
Begin by 'dropping an anchor':
- Sit upright in a chair and press your feet firmly into the ground.
- Notice how you feel the heels and balls of your feet being grounded.
- Notice how the muscles in your legs are working.
- Notice your sitting bones touching the chair.
- Look around you and notice five things you haven't seen before.
- Listen for five sounds you haven't noticed previously.
Now check-in with yourself and notice if the frozen state is easing.
If not, repeat the process again.
6. Try, try and try again
Persistence builds resilience. Persistence builds courage. Persistence creates change.
When you feel determined to move positively through whatever is challenging you, then your refusal to fall down and stay down means you’re adapting to change and embracing the idea that while change is inevitable, you have what it takes to manage it in a way that’s right for you.
Building resilience takes time. So do most great buildings and pieces of art that stand the tests of time.
7. Acknowledge when you do things well
Rather than looking at how far you still have to go, consider how far you’ve come. Congratulate yourself on the small wins. Take joy in knowing that step by step you’re moving forward in a way that's helping you straddle the divide between where you are and where you want to be in a way that shows your resilience, perseverance and courage.
This is about believing in yourself. Start here. Be your own cheer leader, not your worst enemy.
8. Care for yourself
When facing challenges it’s easy to put your needs last. During these times caring for yourself with healthy food, ample rest and regular exercise keeps you strong. Dousing yourself in caffeine, sweet food and alcohol/drugs won't help you. All you'll achieve is an addiction and weight gain, which have the power to lower your resistance and taking you back to square one.
If you find the challenge you're facing is stopping you from sleeping, list your favorite things to do before bed that have helped ease you into sleep in the past. These may include having a warm bath, an herbal tea, reading, meditation or listening to relaxation audios.
Keep the list near your bed so that if you begin tossing and turning during the night you can remind yourself that you know how to fall asleep easily. Repeat this to yourself. It will convince your mind to slow down and relax.
9. Connect with others
During challenging times, the support of friends and family can make the difference. Everyone has moments of needing comfort, so instead of isolating yourself and trying to ‘tough it out’, keep up with social engagements and create time to relax with others.
Being resilient doesn’t mean shutting others out. You'd most likely want to be there for friends if they were going through challenging times. No one is an island. Community is important for your social well being.
10. Keep in touch with what’s important to you
Without meaning, challenges can feel like they’ll never end. You may feel that ‘this is your lot in life’. It’s not.
Problems can be opportunities to take a pause and rediscover what’s important to you.
Finding a reason, beyond yourself, that you can connect to could offer a bridge from feeling self-absorbed during challenging times to shifting your focus onto causes bigger than you.
Having a sense of purpose offers a way to see challenging moments in perspective – as part of a bigger picture.
These ten points offer a simple way to begin. Change can be complex, yet if you begin with the simple and take control of the things you can do, challenging moments can be made feel more manageable.
As you listen to your emotions, monitor your thoughts and act in a way that’s aligned with your personal beliefs and values you’ll discover important links between motivation and personal success.
Resilience is multi-faceted and offers keys to helping you draw on your personal strengths.