How to bounce back from adversity and become more resilient
Everything in life is in constant movement and change. Nothing ever stops. The only constant is change itself.
Through our life, we experience change in many forms, from key development milestones, as we witness our bodies growing and ageing, to life-changing shifts such as having children or losing loved ones. In between is a myriad of other episodic life moments, where we experience the effect of change cast over a backdrop of a moving culture, a fluctuating economy and a constantly shifting environmental landscape.
Change can be hard to deal with, especially when it is dropped down on you in the most unexpected and abrupt ways. You can suddenly lose balance, disconnect from your inner resources and feel unable to respond adequately to changing circumstances. In short, you enter into a crisis.
This is what the typical life crisis is made of–the inability to respond adequately to change. It is when your inner world–beliefs, emotions and attitudes–do not reflect the outer world as it changes. Anxiety and stress often stem from this inability to deal emotionally with change. Ironically the wrong response to change is often stagnation.
Resilience and adaptability to change are extremely important life skills, often associated with emotional intelligence and a healthy attitude or perspective towards the self and life in general.
Here are eight ways to help you not only adapt to change, and deal with crises, but actually thrive in it.
1. Embracing change with excitement and curiosity
What is the first emotion you feel when you suddenly face an unexpected change that doesn’t have a known outcome? (basically you don’t yet know whether it’s good or bad). For most people, fear or anxiety is the first thing that comes up. Fear of the unknown is one of the deepest and most pervasive of fears. If you let this fear overcome you, it starts creating negative thought patterns and other unwanted self-sabotaging patterns.
Positive people usually get immediately excited about the prospect of change because their view on life is, in general, an optimistic one and therefore they expect that good things will happen more often than bad. They might initially hesitate for a while but then cheer themselves up and end up looking forward to it. They embrace change. They get curious. Curiosity is an important trait to have because it engenders movement and the power to get out of a comfort zone.
2. Avoiding patterns that create stagnation
People who are most likely to deal effectively with change implicitly know that life is in constant movement and they cannot stop and gather moss. They need to move and circulate the energy around, whether it’s the energy of their thoughts, money, body, work, etc. This is a secret very few people know and follow consciously.
Stagnation goes against life because life is–by its own nature–movement. When they face unexpected change, they make an effort to flow with it and keep themselves from getting stagnant. By stagnation, I mean following the same thought patterns and doing the same things. So these people think sideways, try new things, follow new paths or divert their attention away from the same patterns.
3. Being emotionally response-able
They own and take response-ability of how they are affected by a situation. Resilient people know that how they respond emotionally to life is everything. Experience is not something that happens to them but something they make out of a situation.
This simple but basic attitude changes everything and most certainly, it helps you deal with any form of change and disruption. When you are emotionally responsible you do not blame life or others. You try to find new ways to look at things and people. In fact, people who are emotionally intelligent find it instinctive to quickly change the energy of a situation, or people around them, by first changing how they feel about it. They know that responding negatively or falling victim to their own emotions is not helpful and will ultimately stop them from moving forward and adapting to change.
4. Keeping perspective
Perspective is key because it can change your feelings, attitude and will. Give two people the same situation and they will respond to it differently, if their perspective is different. Difficulty can become a useful challenge and an opportunity to learn. Disappointment can become a life lesson that teaches more about self mastery.
Everything can be turned around with the right perspective. Successful people will always look for the right perspective to get a better angle on an apparent problem. A sudden change can be turned into a springboard that helps you leap forward, if seen from the right perspective.
5. Knowing and respecting one’s fears
We often hear the cliché of facing one’s own fears. I think this is sometimes interpreted as being confrontational or aggressive. Successful people don’t bust their fears. Nobody really does. They understand them more, and respect them for what they are, but make it a point not to be controlled by them.
In fact, mentally strong people are ones who have a healthy internal dialogue. They do not push their fears away and they don’t fight or resist them either. They are just more conscious of which of those fears are holding them back, and understanding them. They befriend them, they talk to them and they might even give them names. In the end, they dance to the music of life by recognizing their fears and overcoming them (not fighting them) through self love, courage and faith.
6. Keeping the faith in one’s self
The last point above brings me to the following. To successfully deal with the currents of life, you have to most of all keep faith in yourself. Know that you have all the resources needed to deal with any life situation. Do not be side-tracked by your mind that tries to make you believe you are inadequate or that you need something from somewhere, or someone, to solve a problem. You don’t.
People who successfully deal with change and crisis, time after time, believe that they always have the resources to push through. They do not look outwards for answers–they look inwards. They have faith that they will always look into themselves and summon up the courage, the ideas, the will, the attitude, the answer. They believe that they are connected to a creative life force that they can always tap into, without any consensus from anyone.
7. Self love
‘Self love’ is always misjudged by many because it sounds selfish or narcissistic. It certainly isn’t. Quite the contrary, self-love is the key to opening up to the world, and others, with kindness and compassion. Self-love means being open to yourself. You allow yourself to be human, to err, lose and find yourself again. Most of all, it means not to be harsh to yourself by criticizing or judging all the time. This would only create a negative internal dialogue that would generate more negative thought patterns.
As mentioned earlier on, successful people have a healthy internal dialogue. They communicate with their subconscious and their feelings/emotions in a positive way–lovingly and accepting. They don’t judge themselves; they just learn and move on. So when the going gets tough and the world around you changes too quickly, the first step is to love yourself more.
8. Trusting life
This is very close to the first point, where I mentioned that resilient people are optimistic about change and unknown circumstances. They do not cocoon themselves in but open up their arms and trust the flow of life. They are, in general, optimistic because they choose to believe that life is supportive and not conspiring against them.
If bad things happen, they change perspective, take emotional responsibility and move on; but they do not lose trust in life because they know that once their attitude and perspective is good, life will respond and support them all the way.