Resiliency is a hot topic these days and for good reason. Not only do we have the usual setbacks in our everyday lives, but the global economy has many of us spinning as well.
So, how can you bounce back from everything from the dog vomiting on your shoe to job loss to foreclosure? While there are many aspects to resiliency, here are the three top skills for you to use:
1. Practice acceptance
This is a broad topic, but here are the basics:
- Acknowledge your emotions about the situation. Sometimes people who have suffered through something like financial loss don’t really realize they are experiencing grief. Parents of kids with special needs sometimes have difficulty recognizing how resentful they feel at times. Losing your job can result in feelings of shame.
These are all difficult emotions and hard to embrace, but you can only move forward when you know exactly what you are dealing with.
- Practice non-resistance. Resisting what has happened to you is like being in a Chinese finger puzzle – the more you struggle against it, the tighter it grabs you and the more stuck you are. Only when you relax and move toward the center of the puzzle do you get out of it.
And try not to confuse non-resistance with giving up. It’s more about giving in and accepting your circumstances so that you can do something about them.
- Accept life as it is, not as it should be. We can waste a lot of time thinking about how life “should” be rather than accepting it just as it is. Being realistic will help you move forward faster.
- No one said you have to like it. Acceptance does not mean that you have to like what is happening to you. It’s actually possible to not resist something and dislike it at the same time!
2. Gain perspective
- Remember past experiences. This is key to your ability to bounce back from adversity. Recall other difficulties that you have had in your life and realize that, somehow, you made it through them. It’s likely you will also make it through this one, too. As a wise person once said, “This, too, shall pass.”
- Stop chewing your cud. The word “ruminate” comes from the Latin ruminare, the root of which describes a cow chewing its cud. This is what you do when you ruminate: Think about the problem, chew on it a bit, swallow it down, bring it back up, think about it . . .
It’s easy to get stuck re-hashing the problem over and over again, trying to “fix it.” But then your focus gets very narrow and The Problem becomes the only thing in your life. Let go of it. Widen your focus and see what else is in your life.
- Stay in the moment. Rather than fretting about something that could happen in the future or worrying about the past, try to stay in the present moment. This is where life is really happening.
- Use a perspective-changer. Some studies have shown that it really does help to think about people who are in worse circumstances than you are. I call these perspective-changers. A perspective-changer I often use is my memory of sitting with a dying client who was at peace with her own death. Being with her made everything else seem like small stuff.
3. Get social
This is not the time for you to suck it up and go it alone. One of the best ways to bounce back from hard times is allow other people to support you emotionally.
- Find people you trust. It’s important that you feel safe enough to talk with people about your situation, so pick family members or friends that you really trust.
- Talk. You don’t have to go into specifics of what’s bothering you if you don’t want to, but it’s important that you let the people in your inner circle know that you’re going through a rough time.
- Take your power back. The more you allow your problem to be a secret, the more power it has over you. By talking about it, you take the power away from the “deep, dark secret” and put it back where it belongs – with you.
You already know that life has its fair share of ups and downs. Try these three resiliency strategies and you’ll soon be bouncing back in no time.
Psychotherapist Bobbi Emel specializes in helping people face life’s significant challenges and regain their resiliency. In addition to seeing clients in her private practice, Bobbi is a well-regarded speaker and writer. You can find her blog at http://www.TheBounceBlog.com