Learning Resilience

With the ups and downs of everyday life, we are pretty used to having that one-off “bad day” and then waking up the next day back to normal. But what about when “back to normal” doesn’t happen, at least not right away? That’s where resilience comes in – it is the ability to deal with adversity in a productive manner and come out the other side better because of it. Being resilient isn’t something you’re born with, it is a learned skill that almost anyone can achieve. So, the next time life throws you a curve ball (or 10), here are some coping skills to use to build up your resilience.

  1. Identifying the root of the problem is a big first step to dealing with it. If you’re unhappy at work and want to quit your job, dig down to pinpoint exactly why you’re not happy. Is it because you aren’t getting along with your boss or a coworker? Maybe a huge project is overwhelming you or the commute is becoming too much to bear. Whatever the case may be, there’s more to it than just wanting to quit your job. Or, what if you haven’t been feeling well for a long time – have you been to the doctor? Have you run medical tests? Have you altered your diet or sleep patterns? Once you know what the reason is for not feeling your best, you can begin to deal with it and get on the road to feeling better.
  2. After you’ve identified the root cause, now you need to accept it. Your boss may be a jerk but there’s nothing you can do to change him/her. You’ve been diagnosed with a chronic disease and it is irreversible. No matter what the situation, denying it or trying to change it will not work. Acceptance is key to being able to move on to the next steps – it is what will drive your ability to adapt to the situation at hand.
  3. Now is the time to learn the skills you need to overcome the problem. In the bad boss example, maybe the right thing for you to do is to reduce your interaction with him/her. Or, talk with someone in HR and see if a transfer is available. Brainstorm solutions and then present them to someone trusted in the organization – together you can work towards a better work environment. If your health is the concern, look to your strengths within. Do you love to read? Gobble up every book and article you can find about your disease – both medical and narrative – to find solutions and inspiration. Are you a great chef? Learn new recipes with disease-fighting foods to help you feel better naturally.
  4. Get the support you need from family, friends, co-workers and even new people. Consider joining a support group for people in the job market or those with your same medical condition. Empathy can be more powerful than sympathy sometimes and it will help to talk with others who have been where you currently are. Expand your network until you feel adequately supported, but remember, you don’t have to tell everyone, especially if you don’t want to.

Despite life’s hurdles, such as dealing with Hurricane Harvey, a death in the family, a behavior-challenged child, etc., try to think of the positives. There is truth to the saying “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” and think of how much better equipped you will be to handle the next challenge that comes your way because of the skills you’ve learned dealing with this one.