Friday, 9 February 2018

Five Strategies to Build Resilience

When the road gets tough, what do you do?

Several years ago I suffered a severe lack of confidence after a hugely traumatic event. I remember becoming obsessed at staying at home and I refused to believe it was true or the event had happened. I struggles for 6 weeks to come to terms with this trauma and I tried my best to avoid thinking about it because I did not want those sad feelings to resurface. In other words, I took the very enlightened approach of pretend it didn’t happen—one that’s about as effective as other common responses such as getting angrypushing people awayblaming yourself, or wallowing in self-pity.
Even for the relatively self-aware, struggles can take us by surprise, but learning healthy ways to move through adversity—a collection of skills that researchers call resilience—can help us cope better and recover more quickly, or at least start heading in that direction.I had to make a fairly large decision one day and I still remember exactly where I stood and what I felt. I decided I needed to pull myself together and muster up every bit of resilience, determination and courage I had to overcome this event. I often wonder how much better I would have coped if I knew what I know now, specialising in confidence and resilience work. I do believe the following techniques would have helped me become future focussed earlier and possibly get back on track sooner.
Change the narrative
When something bad happens, we often relive the event over and over in our heads, reliving the pain. This process is called rumination; it is like a cognitive spinning of the wheels, and it does not move us forward.The practice of expressive writing can move us forward by helping us gain new insights on the challenges in our lives. It involves free writing continuously for 20 minutes about an issue, exploring your deepest thoughts and feelings around it. The goal is to get something down on paper, not to create a masterpiece. Allow the heartache, pain and memories to flow out onto paper and release the feelings associated with it.
Face your fears
The overcoming a fear practice is designed to help with everyday fears that get in the way of life, such as the fear of public speaking, heights, or flying. We cannot talk ourselves out of such fears; instead, we have to tackle the emotions directly.The first step is to slowly, and repeatedly, expose yourself to the thing that scares you—in small doses. For example, people with a fear of public speaking might try talking more in meetings, or chair a meeting. Over time, you can incrementally increase the challenge until you are ready to explore other options. Marginal gains is simply the better tactic here.

Practice self-compassion
Fears and adversity can make us feel alone; we wonder why we are the only ones feeling this way, and what exactly is wrong with us. In these situations, learning to practice self-compassion—and recognising that everyone suffers—can be a much gentler and more effective road to self-healing. Self-compassion involves offering compassion to ourselves: confronting our own suffering with an attitude of warmth and kindness, without judgement.

Here is a strategy you can do any time you start to feel overwhelmed by pain or stress. It has three steps, which correspond to the three aspects of self-compassion:
·    Be mindful: Without judgment or analysis, notice what you are feeling. Say, “This is a moment of suffering” or “This is anxiety” or “This is stress” and I accept it now.
·    Remember you are not alone: Everyone experiences these deep and painful human emotions, although the causes might be different. Say to yourself, “Suffering is a part of life” or “We all feel this way” or “We all struggle in our lives.”
·    Be kind to yourself: Put your hands on your heart and say “May I give myself compassion” or “May I accept myself as I am” or “May I be patient.”

Our most painful thoughts are usually about the past or the future: We regret and ruminate on things that went wrong, or we get anxious about things that will happen. When we pause and bring our attention to the present, we often find that things are okay. Practicing mindfulness brings us more and more into the present and it offers techniques for dealing with negative emotions when they arise. That way, instead of getting carried away with fear, anger, or despair, we can work through them more deliberately. One meditation technique that we can use throughout our day Mindful Breathing. It involves bringing attention to the physical sensations of the breath: the air moving through the nostrils, the expansion of the chest, the rise and fall of the stomach. If the mind wanders away, you bring attention back. This can be done during a full 15-minute meditation, or during a moment of stress with just a few breaths.

Cultivate Forgiveness
If holding a grudge is holding you back, research suggests that cultivating forgiveness could be beneficial to your mental and physical health. If you feel ready to begin, it can be a powerful practice. Begin by clearly acknowledging what happened, including how it feels and how it is affecting your life right now. Then, you make a commitment to forgive, which means letting go of resentment and ill will for your own sake; forgiveness does not mean letting the offender off the hook or even reconciling with them. Ultimately, you can try to find a positive opportunity for growth in the experience: Perhaps it alerted you to something you need, which you may have to look for elsewhere, or perhaps you can now understand other people’s suffering better.