“Life doesn’t get better or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient” – Steve Maraboli
What a great quote, right? It’s a short sentence but carries in it so much truth.
If there’s one thing we know about this life, it’s that it’s unpredictable. If we forgot about this before, the year of 2020 sure reminded us. We face many obstacles and as soon as we solve one problem, another one tends to show up.
When life gets difficult, we have a choice. We can choose to succumb to the difficulty and hurt ourselves in the process, or we can try to stay grounded, and maybe even grow through the experience, even if it’s tough. One of the ways we do this as human beings is by becoming resilient.
So, what is resilience?
Have you ever met someone who remained so strong in the face of hardship, and wondered how they did it? Resilience is part of the answer.
To be resilient is to develop the ability to stay grounded, and cope effectively with anxiety and difficult emotions that show up when faced with adversity. It means to bounce back every time you fall and maintain a healthy mindset even in the face of adversity.
Resilient people grow through adversity and come back stronger.
It’s important for us to develop this quality, especially because we know life will be filled with ups and downs. It’s by no means easy, but worth it in the end. The more resilient you are as a person, the better you’ll be at handling whatever life throws at you.
I’m going to share with you some ways in which you can build your resilience.
Believe in yourself
“Just believe in yourself. Even if you don’t, pretend that you do and, at some point, you will.” -Venus Williams
I’m sure you’ve heard this many times already and it might sound a little cliche, but it’s golden advice, and I’m going to tell you why.
Sometimes we’re faced with problems we think are too big or impossible for us to handle. We feel like all the doors are locked and we’re out of options. We search left and right for help, but none is offered.
Believing in ourselves, our strength, and our ability to get through problems can help us overcome them.
Believing in yourself doesn’t mean you’ll have all the answers right now and it doesn’t mean you won’t trip up or fall short. It means that no matter what happens, you’re clinging onto a truth deep within yourself that you’re enough and you have what it takes to get through this; and that’s what helps you rise back up everytime.
You don’t have to feel ready to overcome what you’re dealing with, you just have to try. The confidence will follow afterwards. For now, keep listening to that voice inside you that reminds you that you have what it takes, and keep believing in yourself.
Accept what you can control and what you can’t control
One of the difficulties that comes with facing a problem is that often times, we feel as though we’ve lost control. As human beings, it’s in our nature to want to have as much control over our lives as possible, so how you feel is normal and understandable,
It’s hard to live with things happening around you knowing there’s nothing you can do to change them. It takes strength to let go and it might feel like you’re giving up, but you’re not.
What does wrestling and resisting things we can’t control do to us besides hurt us?
Resilience is looking at the challenge you’re facing head on, being honest about not being able to change or control it, but choosing to control how you’ll deal with it. And this starts with acceptance of the situation, and changing your perspective.
Say you’ve just found out that you’ve been diagnosed with an illness. You can’t control the illness going away right now. What you can control however, is the steps you’ll take towards getting better again. You accept the uncomfortable reality, and then try your best to do what you can with this situation.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you won’t be exhausted at times and want to give up. Again, it takes strength to let go of the illusion of control, but resilience will help you get back up every time you fall, and make you believe in yourself and your strength once again.
Be honest about how you feel
Many of us are taught that when we face hardships in our lives, we need to bear the difficulty with patience and a smile on our faces. In fact, we think this is the definition of resilience. That we have to stay ‘strong’ and that being emotional is weakness.
We’re taught it’s not okay to cry, to be angry, hurt, or express how we feel.
This isn’t true and only deepens the hurt.
You don’t have to pretend to be okay if you’re not, and this doesn’t diminish your strength in any way. In fact, it takes courage to be open and expressive about how we feel.
No matter what you’re facing in life, it’s normal as a human being that your body will experience different emotions: anger, anxiety, hurt , sadness and so on. You don’t have to push those emotions aside and try to put on a brave face, allow your body to experience and process these feelings even if it’s uncomfortable right now.
If you practise self denial and suppress how you really feel, these emotions will only resurface later on in life, even if your problem’s been dealt with. So be honest about how you feel, allow your body to process what it needs to, and get back up when you feel ready to.
Connect with people, especially your loved one
Going through a difficulty can feel very isolating. It seems as though no one fully understands the weight you’re carrying on your shoulders because they haven’t been through the same thing.
In truth though, even if someone hasn’t walked in your shoes directly, it doesn’t mean they don’t understand or can’t support you. Even the people who seem to have perfect lives are battling with issues of their own. We just don’t know.
That colleague whom everybody loves at work and you think has everything put together in her life could be going through a messy divorce. Your successful friend who seems to overcome every obstacle thrown her way could be battling with an illness. Your neighbour who lives in the best house on the streets could be grieving the loss of someone they love.
We don’t know the silent struggles people have. And this is why reaching out and sharing your worries is important. It’ll make you feel more understood and less alone.
Being around loved ones in particular will distract your mind from what you’re struggling with. It’ll put a smile on your face and remind you to laugh. It’ll even serve as a reminder that no matter how difficult things are, you still have people around you that you love and whom you love. Emotional support from loved ones is vital to build resilience.
Celebrate your small wins
If you know someone who’s going through something challenging, and you seem them try to remain strong and resilient, you’ll encourage them right? You’ll celebrate their strength and remind them how amazing they are. Well, remember to do the same for yourself.
Everyone handles hardships differently. If you’ve been severely depressed for a while and the only thing you achieved was taking a shower, celebrate that. Be proud of yourself for every step you take towards getting better, no matter how small the step is.
You can even go a step further and reward your efforts, by treating yourself to a nice meal or doing an activity you enjoy.
Make time for self care, whether that’s through journaling, exercising, doing breathing work or taking walks in nature. Your attention doesn’t have to be fixated on your problems all the time, take time for living too, and that is part of growing resiliency.
Resilience takes a long time to build, in fact, it’s a lifelong process. So don’t worry about falling short and making mistakes because that’s normal.
Wth time, you’ll notice it’s easier to cope and deal with problems, and you’ll be surprised at yourself with every milestone you reach.
If you’re looking for support on how to practically apply the advice above and deepen your resilience, I’m inviting you to check out my coaching services http://lifecoachingwithnarriman.co.za/where I’ve helped many women like you not only overcome their hardships, but thrive in their lives afterwards.