At one time or another, most of us will encounter impossible circumstances: job loss, relationship break-up, economic struggles, loss of a loved one, physical trauma – the list goes on. They are defining moments in life that can either knock us down or make us stronger. While we can’t always control our circumstances (life’s curveballs are usually out of control), we can control our responses. Resiliency, or how well you bounce back, is a skill that can be learned and refined. Here’s how you can get started:
Have Reasonable Expectations
The road of life is paved with a few potholes, dead ends, and wrong turns. If you accept that you’ll hit bumpy territory at some point, you’re better prepared to negotiate it. But, if you expect to live a life without setbacks, then the first bump you hit is perceived as a failure. Those who are best able to recover from adversity accept that it’s part of living a whole life.
Change Your Inquiry
Resiliency means shifting the focus from what happened to what to do next. Most people focus on how they ended up in their challenging situation. Obsessing the details of your circumstances will keep you stuck in the same place, unable to move forward. The best question you can ask yourself is: What can I do for myself right now that will move me forward? Then you can apply what you learned to future situations.
What’s Within Your Power?
Another thought pattern that delays rebounding from adverse events is focusing on things you can’t control. Doing so will make you feel incapable, helpless, victimized, and stressed. Instead, focus only on what you can control. Sometimes, the only thing you have control over is how you choose to respond – and that’s big.
While positive events reinforce what we’re doing right in life, our most important life lessons tend to come in the wake of adverse events. Do bad things need to happen for us to learn? Of course not, but adverse events seem to have a lasting impact that causes us to alter our lives in more significant ways. What can you learn from your setback? How can you use it to improve your life (or the lives of others) in the future?
Consider Your Strengths
No matter what happens in life, there are certain things you’ll always own: character strengths. Each of us has certain traits that make us unique. They can’t be taken away (although sometimes we choose to give them away). Take a personal inventory of what makes you unique. Think of personality traits that have been consistent throughout your life and have helped you in previous situations. Are you naturally curious? Are you compassionate? Are you humorous or creative? Highlighting and engaging your strengths gives you the energy to rebound.