We all face challenges in life, but some people seem to weather “emotional storms” more easily than others.
What is resiliency?
There is an old quote by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche that states “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” You’ve likely heard some version of this saying, but do you believe it? Are challenges in life eventually food for the soul that make us stronger and wiser in the end?
Nietzsche may have been hinting at the concept of resiliency, a term used to describe the ability to recover from adversity, to essentially “bounce back.” We associate resilience with not only bouncing back, but the ability to effectively cope, overcome, and become more adept at facing life’s next challenge.
How to become more resilient
Some people are inherently more resilient than others, but the good news is that resiliency can be learnedand is a skill that can help you to overcome the stress that comes from the inevitable trials you’ll face.
Consider developing resiliency as a journey; a process to become a stronger version of yourself. The following steps are your path to greater resiliency and overcoming life’s challenges:
- Find your people. Studies show that having a strong social support system not only accounts for a large portion of our happiness but, you guessed it, makes us more resilient when life throws us a curve ball. You can connect with supportive people through friends, a support group, a religious or spiritual gathering, or maybe even through volunteering.
- Expect and embrace change. Change is inevitable. We all know this, yet somehow we still reel when it shows up. What if instead of being surprised or reactive when a change occurs, we remind ourselves that change is a normal part of life, regardless of how much we don’t like the change that is happening. Practice “leaning into” change or being willing to experience and accept it. Try to tell yourself that change is normal and is supposed to happen in life. For example, use self-talk like, “Change is a part of life and I’m open to this change and willing to experience it.”
- Use positive self-talk. One of the worst things we can do when we experience difficult changes or painful experiences is to knock ourselves down by being self-critical. It’s necessary to take responsibility for our part in the situation, but criticizing or punishing ourselves for things that are out of our control is downright cruel. Notice when you’re being self-critical and look for a way to acknowledge your pain and offer yourself comfort and understanding.
- Remember all the challenges that you’ve overcome and reframe your current difficulty as an opportunity to learn and grow. The fact is that you’ve faced many challenges in life and made it to the other side in one piece. Remembering that you’ve positively moved through past challenges, and learned from them, can help you to be stronger in the face of your current difficulty.
- Remind yourself that this challenge is temporary. When feeling emotional pain, it can feel like it will last forever. Most challenges we face are temporary and will eventually pass and it’s helpful to remind ourselves of this frequently as we move through it.
- Develop 3 coping skills ahead of time. Begin to brainstorm what coping skills you already have, or ones you need to develop, that will help to manage emotional distress and bolster your ability to weather the emotional storms in your life. Having at least three core coping strategies that you can reach for during times of stress is a way to be proactive, learn to soothe yourself, and help you to feel more in control. Examples of coping skills might include meditation, journaling, exercising, or calling a wise or comforting support person.
Remember, being resilient isn’t something you either have or you don’t. It can be cultivated. Next time a stressful situation falls into your lap, start building your resiliency muscle. You got this!
Jennifer Huggins, Psy.D is a licensed Clinical Psychologist in West Los Angeles, specializing in Trauma and Chronic Pain. In addition to these specializations, she helps her clients heal depression, anxiety, and reduce stress though the use of cutting-edge treatments and empowering them to thrive in their lives. Her passion is helping clients find hope when its been lost.
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