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Resilience and Well Being

Some things about the idea of “resilience” are obvious. When you have it, you can manage stress better. You have more of a sense of well-being.

I believe resilience also protects your physical health, and that the relationships in your life are overall more healthy and rewarding than they would be otherwise.

So, if you don’t feel like you have resilience, how do you create resilience for yourself?

Here are a few ideas to consider.

Check your thinking style.

Are you a positive or negative thinker? Negative thinking will erode your resilience. Fast.

You can use one of our free downloads to see if one or more of those ways of negative thinking fit you. First, check out these forms of negative thinking that we call “cognitive distortions.” Then you can use another one of our handouts on changing negative thinking to help yourself notice and then shift the way you think about things to be more helpful, rather than harmful.

There can always be a silver lining, even in dark and difficult circumstances.

Use curiosity.

Curiosity leads us to learn new things, to explore options, and to appreciate another’s point of view. Our choices open up when we look at the world through curious eyes and it creates a very different way of seeing. Creative solutions to problems may come to mind, and you may find more of a sense of hope and courage as you approach difficult situations.

Change what you can, let go of the rest.

One of my most important lessons in life has been about control. There is a lot in life that we can’t do anything about. Bad things happen and life doesn’t always go the way we want. If you can separate the things you can control, and the things you can’t – then you are able to 1) worry less over things you can’t do anything about, and 2) keep your energy for changing things you can control.

Try this question, “What can I control, and what is out of my control?” when you are faced with a difficult situation. It may seem like a simple question, but there is a lot of personal power in considering this. Just asking the question shifts your focus to more helpful ways of thinking and acting.

Accept that you will be uncomfortable sometimes.

Being able to tolerate the less desirable emotions we “get to” feel as human beings is an important skill. Yes, we try to minimize feelings such as anger or sadness but they happen to us all sometimes. If you can tolerate those emotions and accept that you’re going to have to feel them once in a while, it is going to help you have more resilience.

There are a few helpful things to remember to help yourself tolerate uncomfortable emotions. 1) You aren’t going to feel that way forever. 2) Emotions are feedback about what is going on in life and are important survival skills. Sadness helps us to gain empathy from others we care about, and connect with them, for instance. Fear tells us there is something to watch out for and avoid. Use your emotions, don’t let them control you.

Surround yourself with people who build you up, not bring you down.

To some extent, the people in our lives are mirrors. We reflect things back and forth between us about who we are and how the world is. If you have many negative people in your life, or unhealthy people, this is going to tend to bring you down emotionally, rather than build you up. The things we expose ourselves to in life are a big factor in how we see the world and that definitely includes the people we spend time with!

Take a look at the most important relationships in your life – family, close friends, work friends, neighbors. Who are you spending most of your time with? Do you feel comfortable, or is it more likely that you feel anxious, angry, or depressed after time with certain people? Limiting time with the people that bring you down, or increasing the time you spend with people who build you up can help.

Do you have other ideas about how to build resilience in yourself?

Photo courtesy of Iosphere and freedigitalphotos.net