September 03, 2015

Building Resilience: 5 Ways

Building resilience is a phrase I came across a while ago and I thought of how apt it is. Indeed it is important to be resilient, to be strong enough that people's opinions and harsh comments do not land on an already sore spot, or their actions do not control you, or you don't give up easily and run away from every uncomfortable situation or play the victim e.t.c.
Recently I read a couple of posts on my blog and saw that a lot of them have to do with my process of building resilience and reserves of strength. Whether it was me learning I could only control myself, or learning to take control of my own happiness or learning to handle a tantrum thrower or difficult person etc., the reoccurring theme that stood out to me was how to become a resilient version of myself.
So maybe this might become a series over time or the theme of a book or some publication, but whichever way I use it, today I start with 5 ways you can manage uncomfortable situations by changing the way you react internally when you cannot change the person involved or the situation.

1. Emotionally detach yourself from other people's opinion of you.

Only yesterday someone passed a comment about my work. It started with flattering commendation on something I had done and ended with a flattening admission that this person felt I didn't always do the best work.

The criticism came right after the praise and guess which one stuck?  I had to consciously and continuously deflect my attention away from the negative comment, telling myself "whatever XYZ meant by that is XYZ's business" because for the life of me I couldn't justify the statement and so it sounded unfair, undeserved.

Besides it wasn't doing anything for me. If it contained information that helped me either clarify what this person expected or proved the accusation true, then I could admit it as reasonable but as it stood it was garbage. So what I did was to detach myself from this opinion and treat it simply as discardable garbage.

2. Before you agree that life has been a series of negative events, ask yourself what is happening right now that you can be positive about?

When you ask yourself this question you realise that there are a lot of positive things you have going for you and you only need to look up to realise that the drudgery and mundaneness of everyday is adding up- every day in little ways you are making progress even if it isn't obvious. 

For me answering that question proved every reason I thought I had to be blue wrong. It changed my focus from the past to the present and admitted as evidence the truth that all things are temporary and situations never remain exactly as they are but evolve. 

When we stay on the positive side of life and we see that we aren't getting the short end of the stick at all.

3. A negative thought/comment has no effect except you believe it.

Recently I was trying to navigate a turn on a crowded street, when another driver drove up to me and said "you cannot drive AT ALLLLL". I had observed a man gesticulating impatiently in a car that had to stop for me to be able to turn, it was this same man who took his time to tell me what all his antics were about.

I was startled more by his eloquent use of language and his clean accent than the deliberate put- down in his words. For a comment laced with as much bile to a total stranger, I expected a person with much less decorum. I mean I would only expect that brew of hostility from an uneducated, unpolished conductor in a moment of road rage!

As his comment landed, I flung it back remembering that mine and the safety of other road users was more important than impressing anyone, and mindful that I hadn't broken any traffic laws. 

I contemplated why an obviously proper gentleman will bother to be so uncouth, when it occurred to me that the problem was the car I was driving! He probably deserved to drive it more given his perception of his driving skills and I less given his perception of mine. Soon I had enough evidence to believe it was a dismissible comment and found myself feeling sorry for the man instead.

4. No matter what you've been through it can become beautiful in the retelling Elizabeth Gilbert on

When something negative happens. I actually get a sheet of paper and write at the top "my version of events", then I say what happened and explain my actions and rationale for them. When I look at my side of the story without all the harsh judgements of others involved, I can find a reason to be compassionate to myself and forgive any embarrassments or hurts that came my way as a result of the event.

But Elizabeth takes it further, saying that in the retelling you have the benefit of hindsight to dull or sharpen elements of a story and come out with an acceptable ending. It's your choice to retell that incident in a version that you can make peace with. Like drawing out the benefit or morale that came about as a result of the ugly incident or including the benefit of the doubt to one character's hurtful actions or justifying your reactions under the circumstances. 

5. Don't permit anyone to control the way you feel
 "Becoming a better you" by Joel Osteen and "Power thoughts" by Joyce Meyer.

In essence it is important that you do not let yourself be controlled by the anger of others. It's okay for someone to be angry with you, it is even okay for them to communicate their feelings to you but it is not okay for them to hold you to ransom, be mean, harsh or attacking, or to indirectly by passive aggressive behaviour try to register their annoyance with you.

When this happens you  need to see it for what it is, take responsibility for your part and apologise but leave the person to calm down and be civil again- this is their responsibility not yours.  


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