Working on Resilience
Author: Michelle Mamerto
A person who is resilient works through tough times and challenges by using their strengths and resources. They are able to cope with whatever lemons life may hand them, and they come back to the table with lemonade, lemon bars, lemon cake, and a lemon drop martini in a giant, garnished, sugared martini glass. People who are resilient, learn to look at obstacles as challenges. They focus on progress, not goals. They are able to distinguish between their beliefs about what happened and actual fact. How do we learn resilience? Here are a few exercises that may help:
When we experience something negative, many of us tend to ruminate: we think about the situation over and over again. That doesn’t help us move forward. Free writing is the practice of writing for at least twenty minutes about an issue that has been in your thoughts. In writing about a negative issue, sometimes we are able to gain new perspectives.
Practice Compassion and Forgiveness for Oneself
When faced with a difficult situation, are you being fair to yourself? Are you treating yourself how you would treat a friend? Many times we are our own biggest critics. Remember that you are at a rough point and that that pain is a part of life. Be compassionate of your situation, and treat yourself the way you would treat a friend- with love, patience, forgiveness, and understanding.
Facing Your Fears
My 12-year old was afraid of roller coasters. Not even a five-minute wait at Space Mountain during the best Disneyland trip ever could convince her to give roller coasters a try. (How could anyone pass up a five-minute wait in line at Space Mountain?) A couple years ago, she went to an amusement park with a group of friends, who talked her into facing her fears, and let her know that they would be with her every step of the way- especially through the long and boring line where she would typically find a way to talk herself out of the experience. She made it through the long wait and her friends were there to help her face her fear. They were also there when she finished the ride with a big smile on her face! She now loves roller coasters, and cannot wait for our next amusement park trip! Typically, one should face their fears in small doses. If someone is afraid of public speaking, maybe starting off making an announcement with a small group, then making their way towards giving a public speech could be a goal.
When you practice mindfulness, you are able to bring yourself out of the negative thoughts that ruminate and focus on the present. Mindfulness helps you deal with negative emotions when they happen. Rather than focusing your energy on something that went wrong or something that might go wrong, mindfulness helps you deal with negativity as it happens.
Resilience is a skill that we can all work on improving. In facing your fears, having compassion for yourself, taking the time for mindfulness and thoughtful writing, hopefully we can be that person who can take life’s lemons and still make our lives sweet!