The year 2020 has probably thrown us more trials than the last decade combined. It has taken a toll on most of us, if not all, in nearly every aspect of our lives. The good news is, we can cope—at our own pace using mechanisms that work for us personally.
One skill that can help us is resilience. Resilience is the ability to not only bounce back from life’s setbacks and difficulties, but also adapt well to change and find profound personal growth from adversity. It’s something that, once learned, can impact our behaviors, thoughts, and actions. So whether we are going through a tough time right now or we just want to be prepared when trials come, here are 11 ways to foster resilience in ourselves.
Believe in yourself. This is the most important way for us to build resilience. We have to believe that we are worth it. We have to believe that what has gotten us this far in life are the lessons we have learned and the right decisions we made. We have to believe that we are capable of thriving.
If you don’t feel this way about yourself because of mistakes you might have made, remember the last time you were in a similar situation. Remind yourself of all that you have already overcome. Remember how hard you fought to get to where you are now, and how far you’ve come from where you started.
Believe in yourself because someone so powerful, eternal, and perfect does. Our Father in Heaven knows exactly what we are capable of. Within us are godly attributes and divine potential that can give us strength and confidence to overcome our trials.
Another thing you can try is positive self-talk. It feels so good when others encourage us or believe in us. But you can give encouragement and compliments to yourself every day. If you did great and no one noticed, give yourself a pat in the back and say, “Great job!”. If you think you didn’t do so well, thank yourself for doing all you can. Positive self-talk can go a long way!
Nurture yourself. Self-care is a buzz word in the media and on social platforms every day but it’s more than a buzzword because our personal well-being depends on it. Self-care means nurturing ourselves mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally and across all areas that wellness encompasses.
Self-care is very personal and varies from person to person. It could be an hour of quiet time daily or during the weekend for some reading or meditation. It could be regular exercise and healthy eating or a weekend of watching your favorite movies. It could mean a spa day, a bubble bath or a day without the kids. It could be doing something you love, or enrolling in a class to learn something new. It could mean a day with friends or slowly moving away from toxic relationships, setting boundaries and saying no.
Self-care can mean many things but one thing is for sure, it isn’t a guilty pleasure or something we should do as a last resort to regain our sanity. It’s a life-long pursuit to maintain vibrant health, harmony, and happiness in our lives. It can transform our lives for the better.
When we nurture ourselves, our capacity to endure challenges increases. Our mind, body, heart, and spirit are ready to take on challenges because we’ve already developed a routine to help us cope with stress and that can sustain us during difficult times.
Accept that change is inevitable. Whether we like it or not, change will always be constant, no matter how well we plan our lives. When we accept that change is a part of life, it helps us be more open to stepping out of our comfort zone and evolving as a person. We will be more comfortable and prepared when life suddenly alters something that we had planned or hoped for.
Knowing that change can happen anytime can also help us prepare for contingency plans and teach us to become more strategic when everything goes south. It fosters flexibility to rediscover ourselves—our goals, desires, what we need for our inner well-being and how to find personal fulfillment. We could even find ourselves embarking in new directions we never knew possible.
We also become more accepting when our goals are no longer attainable given our current situation and shift our focus to what we can do to make our situation better. Having this mindset will allow us to recognize the good things that come from change, or count the blessings that we receive everyday despite our difficulties.
Accept circumstances that can’t be changed. When things don’t go as we hope, we tend to dwell on the “what could have been” and “what if”. Often times we daydream of what we wished would have happened and get stuck on wishing for things that we have no control over. This can cause us a great deal of stress and exhaustion and keep us from growing and living our lives freely.
The truth is, there are things that we have no control over, no matter how hard we try. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we can liberate ourselves from the baggage of the past, boost our self-esteem and grow our confidence to pursue the very things that make our souls feel most alive.
It can be really hard, even scary. But accepting is easier when you focus on the liberating and exhilarating feeling of letting go and no longer worrying about the things that you cannot change.
Recognize that your struggle is valid, no matter what you’re struggling with. Our individual struggles vary. Even similar struggles can come in different degrees and forms. No struggle is the same. So the next time you hear someone say that you shouldn’t fret because others have it much worse, you shouldn’t feel guilty.
We have every right to feel that we are struggling, regardless of what others have been through relative to our experience. There will be others not affected by something that’s stressing us out, but it does not mean that what we feel is not real. The fact that others might be coping better does not mean that our struggle isn’t valid. Each of us deal with our struggles differently. So let’s be kinder with ourselves. The sooner we recognize that we’re struggling, the sooner we can take action to solve whatever we’re struggling with and move on.
Establish manageable steps to solve the problem. Once you recognize that you’re struggling with something, you must act. You can’t simply sit and expect the problem to go away. The first step is to define your goal, then develop realistic steps that will help you move forward toward your goal. You can also reflect on the things that you could have done better in that kind of situation. This will help you not make the same mistakes you might have made in the past.
And when you accomplish something that brings you one step closer to your goal, celebrate it! Give yourself some credit—even if it seems like it’s a small win. If things get overwhelming and you feel discouraged, focus on the progress that you’ve made thus far.
Proactively working towards solving our problems or reaching our goals helps us feel more in control of our lives. This feeling can empower and motivate us even in the midst of adversity.
Build and strengthen relationships. Even when we think we can do it all alone, social support in all its forms has an important role to play in our lives. Relationships that foster love, trust, encouragement, and reassurance of our worth can help boost our resilience. It helps us feel more at ease when we have people who genuinely care about us—in both good and bad times.
So strengthen those relationships—in whatever way you can. Drop a text or do a 5-minute catch-up over the phone. Share your milestones and celebrate with them in whatever way possible given our present circumstances. Support their businesses, give them a follow on their social media accounts so you stay connected and aware of what’s going on in their lives.
Strengthening a relationship is different for everyone, so explore what works for you and the people you love and care for. If you don’t have solid relationships yet, maybe it’s time to step out of your comfort zone a little and find someone you can do activities with—little steps that can flourish into a friendship you maybe never knew you needed.
Build on your existing strengths. We have all been on a rough journey—one way or another, but the fact that we are still here means we were able to pull through somehow. And because we have been through that rough journey, we all have strengths that have helped us to persevere in the face of difficulty, personal attributes such as the ability to stay calm in the midst of a heated argument, or the ability to see the silver lining in every situation.
When you face hard times, remember that you already have existing strengths that you can utilize and build on that will help you make it through.
Cultivate a positive attitude. Positivity means so much more than simply “seeing the good” in all things. It also means acknowledging that unpleasant emotions are part of life and are essential to our growth. It means that we can see the things that are not working, giving us the opportunity to improve them. It’s understanding that challenges are temporary and can teach us a thing or two about life. Cultivating a positive attitude requires conscious effort in the beginning, but with consistent effort, it will come more naturally when we need it.
Avoid negative outlets. It may be tempting to turn to alcohol, drugs, or other substances to temporarily relieve us from our pain and suffering, but these can do more harm than good. Or we may be tempted to go to places that are dark with banging loud music to shut our minds off but again, these kinds of outlets are all temporary and can even be damaging if we’re not careful. Some seek out people who are negative or sad themselves, thinking that they will understand them better, but such friends only increase the negativity in our lives, instead of helping us to heal.
The truth is, all these cannot cure our pain at all. Focus your time and energy instead on things that will help, and people who can guide you when you feel lost. Turn to people you can trust who will care for your well-being, exchanging negative outlets for more positive and encouraging ones.
There’s no other way forward but through. The sooner we realize this truth, the sooner we can get back up and pull ourselves together. It may be tempting to put our struggles aside and deal with them later but it’s like baggage we need to carry up a staircase. The more weight we take with us, the harder it is, and the more it will slow us down. So when a struggle presents itself, let’s face it head on. Some baggage will take only a little effort and time to unload and others will take a lot more, but if we deal with them as soon as we are able and act to make them a little lighter each day, we can move forward with less weight on our shoulders.
Increasing our resilience takes time and effort. It’s not something that we can develop overnight. In fact, it’s a life-long quest that we need to continue to pursue. As we do, our ability to bounce back from challenges and adapt to change will increase. It can even transform our lives for the better if we let it.