As I wrote a while ago, here, here, and here, resilience is the capacity to recover quickly and well from difficulties and demanding experiences. Resilience is an important and powerful capability because it leads you to come back quickly to full strength after the inevitable setbacks and problems we all experience from time to time.
In addition, the more resilience you acquire and maintain, the stronger and better equipped you are to overcome your next challenges, including the ones you willingly seek out in various parts of your work and your life.
I continue to receive a steady stream of requests for additional information about developing more resilience, and – also always – when I have it I’m happy to share:
Accept the Difficulties
One of the biggest differences between more resilient and less resilient people is simple acceptance. You set yourself up for greater suffering and slower recovery when you ask: “What have I done to deserve this trouble?”, or “Why me?”
But here’s the thing: it’s not just you. It’s everyone. Ask around and you’ll begin to understand that almost everyone alive has experienced serious setbacks, difficulties, and emotional turmoil, and will probably experience more of these hardships in years to come. Troubles are an unavoidable part of life. Accepting them as normal is the first step toward successful coping and recovery.
This mindset of “acceptance” is intrinsically strengthening, healing, and nurturing. Faced with a situation that feels like drowning, you often have the choice to sink or swim – and choosing to swim is far more resilient.
Remember What’s Still Good
It’s rare that troubles destroy every part of your life. No matter how terrible the problems and how widespread the destruction you experience, in almost every instance it could have been worse.
Understanding this is a solid basis for resilience and recovery.
You actually gain strength when you pay as much attention as you can to what wasn’t destroyed and to what still remains untroubled in your work and your life. You also help yourself recover when you find reasons for – and practice – gratitude, which is far more healing and sustaining than feelings of loss and pain.
Paying attention to what’s still good has the twin effects of compartmentalizing the pain and penalties you’re experiencing, and also providing a positive basis from which to exercise your remaining power to recover, rebuild, and move on.
Stay With What Helps
Another strategy that strengthens your resilience and aids your rapid recovery from hardships is to self-monitor your thoughts and actions, and to make smart choices about what to think and what to do.
Simply put: It’s smart to avoid thoughts and actions that hurt you, and instead to stay with thoughts and action that help you feel better about your work and your life.
This makes sense, because dwelling too much on the losses you’ve experienced is likely to keep you feeling sad, damaged, and relatively weak. This will only prolong your suffering and sap your strength to rebound.
On the other hand, every minute you spend in touch with whatever’s still good in your work and your life is likely to help you endure your sadness, heal emotionally, and regain your strength of will and purpose. The result of staying with what helps you feel better will be faster recovery and superior ability to get yourself back to moving full speed ahead.
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