Life is going to knock you down. A long-term love relationship will come to a sudden end. The doctor’s prognosis will be devastating. A lucrative contract will be terminated abruptly. You’ll get a sack letter and drown in debts. A pandemic will come along unannounced and turn your world on its head.
Quite a lot of things could go wrong in a lifetime. And sometimes, all you want to do is throw in the towel and get away from it all. Don’t quit yet.
The challenges and obstacles that dot our journey through life and cause suffering are typical. When your worst fears come to pass, as they will sometimes, it doesn’t mean that your life has gone wrong. On the contrary, it goes to show your life is on track. It’s an ordinary plot twist in everyone’s story. The only thing you can do is to learn how to stand the storm.
The Importance of Resilience
Resilience is the singular character trait that makes all the difference. You must learn how to stay resilient in difficult times.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back after falling flat—the ability to experience high stress without it destroying your resolve or your fighting spirit.
Fortunately, resilience can be cultivated. Psychologists have been studying it for years and have come up with several ways to help us stay resilient under challenging conditions.
Here are 6 Ways to Stay Resilient in Difficult Times:
Plan for Tough Times
That’s right. If you must have the edge over life’s occasional blows, you must plan for when things go downhill. Things are bound to go awry, and those who survive better are those who have prepared. Those who have gone through the dangerous scenario before. Even if it’s only in their heads, they are not blown over when it suddenly gets rough.
That is not to say you have to go through life, always anticipating problems. But it makes sense to prepare for the worst while expecting the best.
When things don’t go as planned and your life takes a turn for the worse, you will feel like shit. It’s expected. But don’t stew in that state for too long. If you must bounce back, you have to up your mental game – hope. You must expect things to get better.
Expect good things to start happening.
Hope helps us cope better under trying times because it’s based on a sense of ability. It makes you feel you can turn the stressful event around for the better. Or even better, find a way to avoid a reoccurrence in the future.
Your resilience will take a beating if you persist in your dark thoughts. Because if you only expect the bad things and see only doom, you won’t have any reason to continue fighting. Since your situation won’t get better, what is the use?
A healthy dose of optimism will pull you out of adversity. It will force you to look for solutions to the problems pressing you on all sides rather than hide helplessly under the covers.
Feeling grateful is the most powerful way to maintain the emotional energy needed to be resilient when bad things happen. It will improve your general wellbeing and help you cope with your woes. And the best part? Gratitude is something you can work on and develop.
Being thankful was found to increase happiness in people with severe health conditions. A study of patients with neuromuscular disease showed that those who counted their blessings and wrote it down felt better about their lives than others who didn’t.
And here is the science behind the restorative powers of gratitude. Gratitude and resilience are linked at the neurotransmitter level. When we feel and express gratitude, our brain releases “the happy chemicals” – serotonin and dopamine. Again, the brain’s two regions that relate memory and emotions – the hippocampus and amygdala activate when we feel thankful. When you practice gratitude daily, you strengthen the neural pathways, which makes you feel happier and stronger.
So, amid your suffering, find a way to turn your mind to things you are grateful for. It will bolster your resilience and strengthen your ability to deal with your present circumstances.
Writing down your deepest thoughts can provide relief when you are passing through hard times. When you pen down your experiences, you will tend to ascribe meaning to them. This will open up portals that will help you understand yourself and the situation deeply.
With time, you may be able to see patterns in your behavior or emotional reactions and learn how to respond more productively in the face of setbacks.
Write in any format or medium that may be convenient for you. Some people prefer the old pen and paper, while others use a text file on their computer or smartphone. And do not feel pressured to write every day or pen lengthy essays.
The most important thing is to capture your highlights (low or high) and your feeling at the moment.
When things go wrong, we often tend to dwell on our often presumed negative roles in the negative event. Too often, we judge ourselves harshly and conclude that we are no good.
Self-compassion is how you resist the temptation to condemn yourself and treat yourself kindly – just like you’ll treat the next person. That is not to say you let yourself off lightly anytime you mess up. Instead, self-compassion is a call to accept the pain at the moment and our role in it, and then lovingly embrace ourselves and our imperfections.
Instead of chewing yourself out when you fail at something, find out what you can learn from the bad experience. Then buoy yourself up with the hope that you’ll pull through it, just as millions before you have.
So how does self-compassion help your resilience? Studies have shown that self-compassion protects us against the negative feeling we have about ourselves. It ensures we are not overwhelmed by negative emotions, which will only serve to perpetuate the unsavory circumstances.
Self-compassion will improve your well-being and reduces the impact of whatever thing you are passing through.
While working through the knots in your life, remember that you acted in good faith and did what was best at that time and under the circumstances. Instead of jumping straight to judgment, try to understand your actions and your reasons behind them. You’ll often realize that you acted well overall, which will prompt you to find a way forward.
Engage with people
When you face challenges, it’s easy to hide under a rock and withdraw into your shell. Your suffering will tend to alienate you, and you feel you’re a “special case.” But the truth is that there are many people with the same problems you have, and some even have it worse. You are not alone.
We have a shared existence on this planet, and we all go through hard times. Becoming aware of this and making efforts to connect with and engage others during your difficulties will open you up to unexpected love and connection. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good people really are.
Your efforts to engage and connect with others will make you see that yours was never a special case. No matter what you are going through, someone somewhere has already experienced it before. With this awareness and the feeling of connectedness, you will be strengthened to face up to your difficult circumstance and overcome it.
Because the present is the only thing that exists right now, it’s the only thing you’ve got. The past doesn’t exist except in our minds and in the present time. And the future too is non-existent except in our minds. And all the thoughts in our mind of the past and the future are all happening in the present.
Learn to stay in the now, especially when you are passing through difficult times. It will keep you from being swamped over by the imagined troubles and create a space where solutions to your problem may arise.
Resilience is a crucial character trait that you must develop. It is how you survive life’s turbulence and navigate challenging conditions successfully.
Even more importantly, resilience helps foster a feeling of control over your responses to external events, even when we cannot foresee or control what happens. And therefore, it is a strong fortress against anxiety and depression. Resilience is fundamental to success because it helps you stay calm when your boat hits a rock and empowers you to work your way through the thorniest of problems.