How To Build Resilience: 3 Experts Share Remarkably Effective Insights To Overcome Your Biggest Challenges & Thrive in the Face of Adversity
“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo- far more flexible than you'd ever believe at first glance.”
― Jodi Picoult
A sincere thanks to all the awesome experts who shared their best tips, insights and strategies on how to build resilience.
A key component of being resilient (bouncing back) is maintaining mental flexibility and balance in your life as you deal with stressful situations.
I find that people are especially reactive to change in a way that does not promote well-being, due to a lack of mental flexibility.
Resilience is the ability to overcome and adapt well, when faced with hardship, or significant sources of stress i.e. trauma.
However, we actually exercise resilience on a daily basis, every time something doesn’t go as planned, for example- there’s unexpected traffic on your route, you wanted your coffee hot but they gave it to you cold, a co-worker is being unfriendly towards you when they’re usually friendly, you missed your scheduled gym class, the dinner you were cooking got burnt, the kids are not behaving well today.
You might be thinking these examples are trivial and not stressful, but they are trivial and stressful, nonetheless we overcome situations like this every day, we are likely able to adapt well to these situations as they are happening and not even think twice about them.
If you are thinking that these examples are stressful and difficult to deal with emotionally, they put you in a bad mood, then your mentality is probably lacking flexibility, and you have difficulty with things not going your way, trying new things and things changing.
Mental flexibility is the ability to adjust your thinking and change your behavior, when faced with difficult, different or new situations, so that you can remain emotionally stable and achieve the best outcome.
Being mentally flexible gives you the ability to see things from several different perspectives, allowing you to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty, adapt to change, take risks willingly and learn from your mistakes.
There are simple behaviors that can foster mental flexibility.
1. Question your thoughts
When is the last time you stopped yourself mid thought to questions your thoughts? Probably not that often, but we need to be doing this often. Pay attention to the thoughts you are having in situations where you feel like you just cannot accept it, if it doesn’t go as planned, fails, or changes; or in situations where you feel like you absolutely cannot agree, or compromise.
Ask yourself, “how come I am having these thoughts,” “what would happen if it doesn’t go as planned,” “so what if I fail,” “how come I strongly disagree with this situation,” “what would happen if I go along with it anyways,” “how come I cannot compromise on this.” The idea is to start thinking about things differently by questioning your current perceptions and where they are coming from. This teaches you the ability to see things from several different perspectives.
2. Try something new
It is easy to get stuck on autopilot, most of us have the same routine day in and day out- work, home, bed, repeat, with probably the same responsibilities in between. This leads to loss of mental flexibility, it narrows our experiences and we become fixed in our on world. We have created ultimate comfort, everything is controlled and predictable, but whenever anything burst the bubble of our safe world we become emotionally upset; we are not truly fulfilled, nor equipped to deal with stress, there is no growth here.
By trying something new we are breaking away from that routine and practicing flexibility. By choice we are challenging ourselves (growth) and learning how we think and behave in difficult, different or new situations, for example, going hiking for the first time, taking that road trip by yourself, finally trying that fitness pole dancing class, getting that puppy you feel you don’t have the time to care for and changing your schedule so that you can care for the puppy.
Trying something new is difficult, it’s different, it’s change, and therefore it is scary and stressful, but it is good stress because we are choosing it, therefore it is empowering and equips you with the tools necessary to be flexible and able to deal with adversity thrown your way.
3. Get comfortable with being spontaneous
No matter how much we want to be in control and we want things to go as planned, and we want everything to work out perfectly in our favor, we will be faced with the fact that often they simple don’t, at all in anyway, go like we want them to.
Being spontaneous is being able to change gears last minute, allowing you to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty, and adapt to change.
It is being able to say, “I don’t know what I’m doing this weekend, I’ll let you know what I feel like doing on Saturday,” “dinner got burnt, cool, lets just get take out,” “meeting got cancelled, no problem, I can work on my project instead,” “I missed my gym class, no worries, I’ll work out at home.”
Being able to go “with the flow” in trivial situations like I just described, sets way for being more mentally flexible and able to go “with the flow” in more adverse situations. Try not planning out your weekend a week in advance, try waking up this weekend and doing what you feel like doing at that very moment.
4. Learn that failure is necessary
We all fail, we can’t succeed without failure, and yes practice makes perfect, in the sense that each time we fail, we have an opportunity to learn from it and do it better next time. We learn from failing by being curious about the negative feelings that we experience when we fail to achieve a goal and by observing these feelings from a place of non-judgement and understanding. Instead of criticizing yourself, engage in thinking critically about your obstacles so that you can come up with strategies on how to overcome your setbacks.
Don’t be so harsh on yourself and get comfortable with the idea of failing because failure is necessary for growth. If you can get comfortable with failing, you will become more flexible and able to take risks willingly and learn from your mistakes. Being able to take risks willingly is an important skill to have when faced with situations we cannot control the outcome of.
In essence, mental flexibility is finding the balance between being in control and things going as planned, and adapting to how things simply are, turn out or happen to us. “The wind does not break the tree that bends”
Maribel V. Allaria, MS, CLC, CPI, NLP - www.maribelvallaria.com
It is obvious that humans do not do death well.
We appear to be organically challenged and yet, death is a cellular sequence of living. Death can act as an appendage to fear, not allowing us to have closure, leaving an unfulfilled hole in our souls.
The most innate instinct we have is to love.
Yet, on a larger scale, avoiding pain displaces love, intensifying our resistance to the sting of loss and pain. Grief is as personal as our genetic coding. Dismissing our grief leaves us in unhinged denial. What we cannot feel, we cannot heal.
When viewed from the Astral Plane, dying is not intended to be the end.
It is merely an extension of our spiritual growth without the physical body attached to it. When we shed our physical frame we are wholly cognizant of who we are and all that has constituted our prior existences on earth.
Our consciousness is embedded with knowledge that we carry for lifetimes.
There is an immense amount of despair regarding the conviction that we will never see our loved ones again. Still those individuals who have passed are very much with us. Once a person dies, they shed their physical shroud, and they continue to surround us. The love we have for them and they have for us will never cease.
Crossing over into the spiritual plane is merely a shift in consciousness. Death is a progression-it is a passageway into a greater awareness.
Every fiber of our being is energy. We are the manifestation of living energy as within our body, we come through our soul.
It is imperative that we listen to our deepest calling, giving a voice to our soul. We can then heighten our consciousness and our vibration to our greatest potential. Living our truth is a critical component in navigating every bone we are thrown. That bone becomes an exquisite mirror reflection in how we choose to deal with what is presented to us.
Life is extraordinarily precious.
Spend it without lament. Choose love over fear, and though fear may be present, revere your fear and take the risk, no matter what. Live life with amazement as if it will be the last inhalation you will ever take.
Take chances even it means giving in to your discomfort.
As we awaken, we rekindle hope and resilience.
Such rekindling let’s us live a more human-centered way of living, a way that touches the very springs of our soul, despite our loss. Resilience will allow us a gentle harmony.
This is beyond question what spirit wants for all of us-to love irrefutably, to live our questions and to trust that it all simply works out, because it does, even if it is not how you thought it would be.
Cindy E Barg, MEd, LMHC - www.gettingbeyondlifestuff.com
Have you noticed that some people seem positive, and hopeful no matter what difficulties they have endured? How can this be?
Resilience is the act of “bouncing back” despite life’s stressors and tragedies.
People viewed as resilient take each hard experience and use it to learn, grow, and evolve. They see each experience as an opportunity rather than a setback. It is as if they wear a different set of glasses from the rest of us. Is it as easy as changing your prescription to view life through new lenses to become resilient?
Feeling beaten down by life makes us feel powerless and hopeless. When we are resilient, we hold the power in our own hands.
The only thing we truly have control over each day is our reactions to what we face. Resilience is connecting to our personal power. It is the overcoming of fear, anxiety and worry. Each one of us has this ability. It is a trusting that we are protected and cared for by a force greater than ourselves. Resilience needs to be discovered, not cultivated.
What does it mean to “bounce back”? Must we have no negative reactions to difficulties to view ourselves as resilient?
Resilience is not about the absence of stress, anxiety, or fluctuations in our moods. We certainly have a right to our emotions and reactions. In fact, they are healthy. When we are faced with a trauma, loss, illness, or relationship struggles - to name a few - we need to connect to our emotions to understand how these are affecting us and what we will need to move through the pain they cause.
For example, if someone is having panic attacks and anxiety, their body sending a strong message that something needs to change in their lives. There is something they can do to feel better.
Perhaps they are in a job that is stressful and not in alignment with their purpose. This anxiety and panic are exercising the person’s internal voice, telling them what they need to do to get back on track.
When we are being resilient, we take a good look at these emotions and learn from them.
Listen to their voice. What do we need to do to feel better? Resilience is taking this information and acting upon it to feel better. Just because we may have times of sadness, panic or feeling hopeless, does not mean we are not resilient.
Waking up each day, facing our hardships, and exercising control over how to manage them is resiliency. However, we often forget we have this power.
People who appear to be resilient have a sense of faith that they are supported by the universe and all will be ok. Sometimes, we are not feeling very resilient. How can we connect to this?
Resilience is innate in all of us.
If innately, each of us has resilience, where is it hiding? Where does it reside?
Reliance resides in our higher self. The higher self is an all-knowing part of us that holds information about our past, present, and future. It is filled with wisdom, the ability to heal us physically, mentally and emotionally.
Our higher selves are resilient, as they are our direct connection to Source, the power of all creation, ideas, abundance and healing. Our human experiences and conscious mind can disconnect us from this part of us and our knowing we are resilient.
Our conscious mind is the part that fills us with fear and doubt.
Fear and doubt only reside there. There is no fear or doubt in our higher selves. Fear and doubt can disconnect us from remembering we are resilient. Resilience is to be discovered, not strengthened or created. Because we all have a higher self, we also possess resilience.
People who are consistently resilient are more connected to their higher selves. They have a knowing of being supported and cared for from the universe around them. The question becomes, for those who don’t feel resilient, how to connect to it? This is perhaps easier than we think. We can do this by using our Solar Plexus chakra!
The Solar Plexus and the Higher Self
What is the solar plexus chakra and how is this related to resilience and our higher selves?
Our chakras are the key to our physical, mental, and emotional health. These are energy points where energy is moving in and out of our bodies continuously, creating balance, stimulating organs and our endocrine systems.
The solar plexus chakra is one of our seven major chakras. It is connected to our stomachs, gall bladder, small intestine, pancreas, and muscles. This is our center for personal identity, self-worth, intuition, power, and resilience.
A person who has a balanced solar plexus chakra has the stamina to feel resilient and able to manage their experiences.
They are confident in their sense of self and how they relate to the world around them. Their identity is formed from the inside instead of the outside. A person who struggles in this area is typically defining themselves from their experiences with the world around them. They are more focused on their outer selves - their bodies, health, other’s opinions and comparing themselves to others.
When we focus inward, we can discover our intuition, power, compassion, love, and true beauty.
This resides within the solar plexus. The solar plexus provides access to our higher selves. Visualize a river flowing into an ocean. The solar plexus acts as the river flowing directly to the ocean, which represents the higher self. How can we balance our solar plexus and feel more resilient?
Balancing the Solar Plexus
What are some ways to balance the solar plexus?
There are several ways to balance the solar plexus and feel connected to our higher selves. The most powerful way is through Reiki energy work. There is a misconception about Reiki - that we must be attuned to Reiki to access it. This is untrue.
An attunement allows us the power to ALWAYS access the Reiki energy and guide it. However, without an attunement it can still be done. It occurs more randomly and without as much control. But anyone can ask Reiki energy to heal and help them.
Simply place one’s hands on the solar plexus chakra (the upper stomach), and with intention, ask for this chakra to be balanced and to strengthen your self-worth and personal power. If possible, going for a Reiki session with a practitioner will be more powerful and recommended.
Other ways to balance the solar plexus is though foods, essential oils, crystals, and yoga poses.
Certain foods, such as whole grains, legumes, spices - turmeric, ginger, cumin - lemons, bananas, and pineapple, all help the solar plexus chakra. Adding these to our diet benefits the flow of energy in this chakra.
Using essential oils, such as sage, juniper berry, and geranium topically or in a diffuser, can also help balance the solar plexus. Crystals also have healing properties. Citrine and topaz are excellent crystals for the solar plexus.
Placing a small amount of essential oil with a carrier oil on the stomach along with a crystal has healing effects. Do this while activating Reiki as a self-treatment for your solar plexus. Drinking water infused with lemon is excellent!
There are also several yoga poses helpful to the solar plexus. Cow pose, sitting spinal twist, and camel pose help the energy move in this area. These are easy practices to do alone.
Intuition, Meditation and Resilience
How does our intuition and meditation help us discover our resilience?
Once we have balanced our solar plexus, the gateway to our higher selves, we can travel down that river to connect to our intuition. Intuition is the built-in part of ourselves which provides guidance and wisdom. When we are connecting to our intuition, we are knowing without evidence. Think of it as a gut response. Everyone has intuition! Many of us ignore it or don’t trust it.
Because our intuition is connected to that all loving higher self, it helps us feel resilient.
We discover that we will be OK, despite what is going on around us. We also can discover the answers to the questions, “What to do” and “How to manage” our situations. When we have these answers, we feel resilient.
Meditation can help connect us to our intuition and higher selves.
When we meditate, we are slowing down our brain activity. This allows our conscious mind to become quiet. Once our conscious mind has been moved aside, we have access to our intuition and higher selves. Developing a practice of meditation does not have to be difficult. Just a few minutes per day has great positive effects. It can be helpful to think of our conscious mind and higher self in a pyramid.
Our conscious mind is at the bottom.
The next tier is our higher self and then at the top is the universal consciousness where all things are created. Remember, it is within our higher self that resilience resides. Once we can communicate with the higher self, it is possible to access to all our wisdom, love, strength and power. It is here that we will discover that we are in fact, resilient, brilliant and powerful.
Other Ways To Connect To Our Resilience
How can self-care, spending time with loved ones and the practice of manifestation help us feel resilient?
Developing a practice of self-care, spending time with those who care for us and manifesting can also help us feel resilient. Self-care is different for everyone. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive! The simple act of taking a salt bath is caring for ourselves. In fact, a salt bath is grounding and can quiet the conscious mind. Any time we quiet the conscious mind, we can connect to our higher selves and be reminded of our resilience.
Other simple forms of self-care are reading an enjoyable book, exercising, and drinking plenty of water. When we read, we connect to our imagination. Our imaginations are also part of our higher selves where our resilience lives.
Spending time with those we love is always helpful.
This reminds us we are not alone and are supported. Being with others keeps us from feeling isolated, and connects our strength with the strength of others. We can absorb this strength and be reminded we are powerful and resilient. Being with those we love also boosts our mood. When we feel supported by others and joyful, we are connecting to our higher selves and resilience.
A practice of manifestation can help us in a multitude of ways - in fact, with anything, including feeling resilient.
When we manifest, we are speaking to our higher selves. It is our higher selves that send our manifestation to the universal consciousness where all things are created. Why does manifestation help connect us to our resilience? Because manifestation is the act of creating.
When we manifest, we are part of the power that creates our own reality.
Connecting to this power reminds us we are resilient. It is knowing we have the power to create which removes fear, anxiety, and doubt, and reminds us we are resilient. Manifestation utilizes our power to make our desires fulfilled. Experiencing the creative outcome of our manifestations connects us to our resilience.
As we move through the stressors and difficulties of life, please know, one always has the capacity to bounce back and be resilient. This resides innately in each of us, always waiting to be discovered.
Kim Conway, LICSW, MSW - www.acenteredself.net