When you feel like the world is throwing you punches and knocking you off of your feet, it's sometimes hard to gather the strength to get back up. There will always be times when it seems like nothing is going right, even when you plan and prepare in advance – life is unpredictable! However, it's crucial to understand and get to know yourself, so that you can work on personal methods in which you can learn to bounce back even stronger and keep going confidently.
Building resilience gives you the ability to cope with difficult life events through understanding and adapting your mind frame and outlook during tough times. Resiliency is a combination of thoughts and behaviours that can be learned and developed in all of us. Think about your day-to-day stresses and anxieties, then think about what it would be like if you were resilient against them, and confident in yourself.
Resiliency requires using a variety of strategies, including getting professional help, to find ways to get through tough periods of time. Take a walk down memory lane and remember the times in your life when you have been resilient against the odds, and then immediately think about what you learned about your reaction to that situation.
It is important to note that when people experience difficult life events, they feel varying degrees of distress – some cope better with stress than others. When building resilience, try out different strategies and then focus on the ones that work for you.
How to develop resilience and build confidence
1. Fixed findset vs. Learning mindset
If you accept this fact, as well as expect changes, then resiliency levels are naturally heightened in your mind. Expecting change also requires being flexible and realising that some goals may need to be altered. Focus on new possibilities rather than the difficulties!
Developing and maintaining a ‘learning’ mindset as opposed to a ‘fixed’ mindset is crucial. In the 'fixed' mindset, the assumption is that your traits and abilities are fixed and unchangeable. In the 'learning' mindset, the assumption is that everything is changeable. The 'fixed' mindset sees the world as unchangeable – whatever you try, it won’t make a difference. With a 'learning' mindset, the world and all events are treated as a learning experience, therefore taking advantage of what is happening in the moment.
2. Accept that change is part of life
Resilient people focus on what they can change either in the environment or in their thinking, while a person with a fixed mindset focuses on what is unchangeable. We can’t change the environment and situations that happen, but we can change how we view the situation. For example, a potential redundancy at work can be thought of as having a career break, and that the opportunity to change professions and have new doors opening will push your natural resiliency to strengthen further.
Don't dwell on the problematic situation as that won’t make it go away or make you feel any better. Ruminate in a productive way – focus on problem-solving and finding a solution. Once you have decided on the steps that need to be taken, take action. Here are simple systematic ways to think about developing resiliency:
• Use difficult times to learn about yourself and to develop further as an individual.
• Review past experiences and how they have shaped you today.
• Then focus on your ability to be able to be problem-solution focused.
• Accept difficult situations as they are without blowing things out of proportion.
• Keep focused on the positive things still in your life, no matter how small.
• Keep perspective, focus on the long-term future and on positivity – knowing that if you put the effort into making things happen, they will happen.
• Don’t compare yourself with those that you may think are better off than you.
3. Turn thoughts into actions
Build on your relationships and connections. At difficult times, it is necessary to accept help and support from those around you and to speak about your concerns as this will strengthen your resilience. Do something for others and they’ll thank you for doing it – this will help boost your confidence too.
Keep your goals realistic. Once you have decided what your realistic goals are, you will be able to find ways of moving forward with them by breaking them down into sections. As you complete each section, focus on the achievement no matter how small. You can also ask yourself the following question in order to help you to move along, “What am I not doing now, that if I were, would make a huge difference?”
Don’t focus on your fears or on worst case scenarios. Focus on the future and what you want. Use the process of visualisation whereby you visualise yourself being confident, assertive, using the skills that you have, in order to take you forward from being stuck in the here and now.
If you find yourself worrying, ask yourself the following, “Can I change what I am worrying about?” If the answer is ‘no’, then stop worrying about it as all it does is affects your mental and physical health. If the answer is ‘yes’, then think through ways of how to deal with what you are worrying about.
Make time to exercise regularly – this will aid in lifting your mood as well as motivation and strengthen your resilience. Set yourself tasks, including DIY jobs at home, or other things that you put at the bottom of your to-do list.
On another hand, humour is a coping mechanism that some find useful too! If you can’t find humour in your situation, then turn to other source for it, like watching a comedy at home. Other helpful coping mechanisms include: writing your frustrations and worries out – paper is great for absorbing frustrations. Writing can also help when thinking through future options. Some people find meditation and other spiritual practices to help build their resilience.
4. Have regular reviews
Check in with yourself on a weekly basis, as this will maintain your focus, particularly in stressful situations. Resilient people often use compartmentalisation as a way of surviving. To explain compartmentalisation, often the analogy of a submarine is given, as a submarine is divided into water-tight compartments. If it takes a hit in one area, it can still survive!
A resilient person often divides areas of their lives into 'water-tight compartments' and keeps their professional life separate from their family life; their social life separate from their health life, and so on.
The key is to find what works for you. Don’t give up too quickly if one of the strategies above does not work straight away – change can always happen! Remember to always focus on the solution rather than the problem at hand – turn every experience into a positive one and view it as a learning curve that will catapult you into new and exciting directions in your fruitful life!