“One is doing well if age improves, even slightly, one's capacity to hold on to that vital truism: "This too shall pass.” ~ Alain de Botton
I've come to see one skill and character trait as fundamental to a good life; a life of success, happiness, health, and thriving relationships. One tool that's slightly above all others, which has the power to transform and tackle any challenge, shift any course, and make us the heroines of our lives. What is this life-changing tool? Resilience.
Resilience is the ability to respond to pressures and tragedies effectively, and quickly, and flexibly. None of us will get through life without being forced to deal with, or handle something we simply don't want to be saddled with. It's in these moments that our resilience will be put to the test.
Can we shift a perspective, sort through options, and stay open and trusting? Can we still, in the midst of it all, find some gratitude, empathy, and compassion for ourselves and others? Our aptitude for this can allow us to create something meaningful out of the meaningless; designing and storing an effective narrative and template for dealing with hardships. As a committed and daily practice, resilience greatly increases our chances of following-through on goals, stopping the bad habits, and making change when necessary.
TEACH AN OLD BRAIN NEW TRICKS
Hard-wired in the brain, due to evolution, and the drive to survive, individual resilience is varied and is dependent on learned responses. Our unique brain patterns have been forged by our responses and choices over time and becomes our "conditioning." How our brains have been “programmed” or conditioned to handle setbacks, pain, and challenges, determines whether we get back up like Rocky, or whether we stay down for the count.
What's exciting, and important, is that even if resilience isn't a well-honed response, you can teach the brain a new way. By increasing empathy, gratitude, and self-compassion, you can rewire the brain and essentially “teach an old dog” (or brain, in this case), new tricks!
You can teach yourself how to be more resilient; by practicing and improving how you handle the smaller stresses of everyday life, you can store up a plan (new programming) for the day when a larger storm rolls in. Resilience means that you'll move away from surviving and flight-or-fight, and will be able to actively apply techniques, processes, and an approach that will minimize the collateral damage to others, your health, and you long-term peace and happiness. It also means you become finely tuned to recognizing when you're off balance in the everyday and you have the skills to course correct with compassion.
“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning to sail my ship.” ~ Louisa May Alcott
HOW TO BE ROCKY:
Program the Brain:
The brain is malleable and can learn new patterns when you choose to engage in practices, thoughts, and habits that endorse resilience. You condition the brain by deciding how you want to respond, what you want to learn, and what you want to be able to say about the experience. You author the story in your favor, writing your own personal guidebook for future use.
You stay in the moment, and remain calm, and at ease in a crisis. You avoid blaming and becoming a victim. You do this by lasering in on present-moment choices and actions that support an improvement in the current affairs.
You get a clear picture of your reaction: what's happening, what needs to happen and the various moves to get there. You avoid making things more dramatic than they are. You're also willing to put the event in perspective against the larger backdrop of your life and see it as a temporary challenge, setback, or pain.
You may not see the outcome, yet, but you're open to the possibilities and choose to find grow, build new skills and gain wisdom.
You connect with others, and reach for, and ask for support. You know that you don't need to have all the answers, or be the expert, and you trust others to support you.
Perseverance and Courage:
You remember the other times you've been through difficulties, and you “call upon” what worked, learn from what didn't, and move forward, even, and especially when, you don't feel like it.
Rocky, a cancer survivor, and a kindergarten teacher all call upon these skills in different ways, and at different times in order to persevere despite setbacks, persist despite pain, and proceed in pursuit of the moment when the crisis has passed. Developing character, experience, and a trusted and trained response that will serve them day-to-day, and when faced with the larger blows in life.
Would you like help cultivating resilience? Life coaching is a great way to learn how to handle every day stresses and the larger challenges in life. I would love to hear from you.
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