Resilience--Bend and Bounce So You Won't Break

Resilience is the ability to bounce back, adapt to adversity and roll with the punches. It provides you the flexibility to restore yourself and your life after difficulty, trauma and loss, and it is a quality in high demand during these rapidly changing times. Resilience is not something you are born with; you can learn, build and develop your resilience. A sense of humor can also be learned and developed, and it, too, can really help you to roll with the punches. Following are four strategies to help build your resilience.

1. Get connected and stay connected

Resilience does not mean standing alone through hard times. Relationships with others who are supportive and positive are essential to achieving and maintaining resilience. Mentors, friends, family, advisors and associates can provide encouragement, experience, strength and hope during uncertain, adverse or painful times.

Isolation creates brittleness and inflexibility—you’re more likely to sink into a negative state of mind when alone with losses, failures or trauma. And your connectedness involves not only receiving, but also giving encouragement, experience, strength and hope. When you reach out to support and share with others, you gain and build resilience and allow yourself a chance to heal. Get involved with support groups and the community, and remember to have fun. Fun does wonders for your sense of humor, your resilience and your health.

2. Look back, learn and—whenever possible—laugh

Allow yourself to review past events and reinterpret them, drawing strength from your experiences. As you review your life, step back and look at yourself objectively, as if you are watching a movie. Review your story. Find humor, inspiration and courage where you can. Give yourself credit for character and grace, and avoid blaming or judging yourself or others. Refuse to engage in beating yourself up. Accept the things you can’t change and take stock of the things that are within your power to change.

One thing that is always in your power to change is your attitude. Everyone has a story. Remember that you are the author of your life story. You can find your bearing and begin working toward a triumphant third act or conclusion.

3. Develop a plan of action

You will need a daily plan of action. Action creates motivation, and motivation creates more action. Always be proactive in the face of adversity, failure, loss, illness or injury. Advance in the face of difficulties or challenges, one day at a time. Set measurable, doable goals, and be consistent with your action plan.

4. Practice being optimistic

Always look forward to a bright future. Visualization is a powerful tool used by athletes, performers and people from all walks of life. At least once a day, take time to visualize yourself where you want to be, and celebrate it as though you are already there. Permit yourself to feel all the peace, exultation and joy that comes as you picture yourself in this specific happy situation, having reached your goal. It’s good to visualize the same thing each day; repetition programs your unconscious mind.

Write affirmations or use mantras. When you choose a mantra, be sure it’s positive. Practice mindfulness meditation, and develop skills to counteract negative feelings and mindset. Always remember that if you feel good, things will go better—and feeling good is a choice. You can change negative thought habits; this has been scientifically proven with behavioral therapies. Use positive self-talk. Direct your inner dialogue, allowing moment-by-moment opportunities to encourage yourself as a friend, mentor, coach and advocate.

Remember, it’s your life story. Resilient people view difficulty as an opportunity to adapt, create, innovate and advance in one or many areas of their lives. Does art imitate life, or is it the other way around? That’s up to you.

Marti MacGibbon is a certified mental health professional, humorist, inspirational motivational speaker, veteran stand-up comic, author and member of the National Speakers Association. MacGibbon can be reached at 310-210-4674.

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