Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties.
How quickly you’re able to bounce back from adversity.
Bouncebackability if you will.
And in more ‘sciencey’ terms it’s psychological flexibility.
I like to refer to it as your ability and capacity to cope with what life inevitably throws at you.
However, it’s not just bouncing back to where you were but in my opinion springing forward into your next stage of growth where you feel even more strong and unshakable to deal with what life throws at you.
Adaptability through times that feel like you’re playing a very consistent game of whack-a-mole.
As soon as one issue is resolved, another one pops up unexpectedly.
Resilience is that feeling of being unshakable. Less panic and implode, more deep breaths and ‘I can do this’.
Basically, the more resilient you can learn to be, the easier every facet of life becomes.
Who doesn’t want a bit of that?!
Resilience to me is the calm amidst the storm.
It doesn’t mean the storm disappears. It just means you can navigate those choppy waters a lot more steadily and don’t let the fact there’s some choppy waters take over every other area of your life.
It’s a learned skill and a muscle to flex and grow and when you put the time in and understand that it WILL grow and WILL develop it makes it that much easier.
The growth that happens through the adversity itself is hugely powerful. Post traumatic growth for the win.
As I’ve talked about before, I always find it a huge comfort knowing that positive growth comes from being in the weeds of a situation that from the outside does not look or feel great.
It’s something I hold on to throughout.
That feeling of, ‘I wonder who I get to be on the other side of this.’ And, ‘I wonder what this could lead to for me in the future.’
But…You don’t HAVE to be in the thick of things to be able to build your resilience though.
Much of it comes down to learning to look at the truth of the situation.
Making sure you’re questioning your perspective and assumptions with curiosity. Making sure you’re really dealing in reality and not unconscious programming.
The ability to reframe and change the narrative to be about the potential positive lessons and growth you can experience rather than the pain or inconvenience facing you in the moment.
We all make mistakes at the end of the day and we all go through hardships.
Using the right tools and techniques is also very helpful in cultivating resilience, even when you aren’t in the weeds.
Breathwork is incredible for this. Specifically for me as a qualified Heartmath coach, Heartmath is my favourite technique and it’s so simple.
We call it heart focused breathing and also a balancing breath.
It works specifically with your nervous system and vagus nerve to increase your vagal tone and what Dan Siegal calls your ‘window of tolerance’. It literally creates homeostasis, in other words balance, in your nervous system.
It increases your vagal tone, which is your ability to move quickly and easily between states.
Between the sympathetic nervous system (Flight or flight) and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest).
It also increases your heart rate variability (HRV) which is known to be a measure of resilience.
HRV is the space between beats of our heart and can be a measure of our nervous system flexibility. More variability means more flexibility which means more resilience.
Your breath is incredibly powerful when it comes to resilience and one of the reasons a yoga practice can make such a difference.
Slow belly breaths too.
There are lots of ways to increase your HRV which I might go into in a future episode and lots of them are in The Positive Pants Toolkit too.
There are also some cognitive processes that you can use too to shift the way you think and create neural pathways for more resilient thinking.
One is allowing yourself to move towards the fear and pain instead of avoiding it. Allow your brain and nervous system to learn that it’s safe through giving it evidence.
Naming your emotions and learning to sit with them and let them be there.
Being in the present moment and looking forward with a focus of what IS within your control, rather than ruminating on what’s already happened that you don’t have control over.
Think of all the times you thought you couldn’t handle something and you did. This is such a simple but powerful exercise. Allowing yourself to really recognise what you’ve overcome and how far you’ve come already.
Think of the times that negative things have led to positives for you or paved the way to a new path that’s so much better for you.
It doesn’t mean that you’d love to go through those things again. It just gives you the evidence that you need that you are more than capable of handling it.
It also doesn’t mean that you start trying to take on more than you can handle on your own. You’re a human and we all have limits.
It means you start to recognise your ‘levers’. You start to utilise your community.
Those people and resources in your life that help make things easier. It means you’re more comfortable speaking up and saying ‘I need your help.’
Flip the switch and reframe potential outcomes.
There might be an initial reaction to something, often an assumption of what will happen, but there are likely multiple different potential outcomes.
Explore those and consciously ask yourself what is within your control to go towards those more positive outcomes.
Do not underestimate looking after your physical health when it comes to resilience too. Exercise is one of the many things that can help increase your HRV.
What you feed your body will also have an effect too.
As always, one of the most important factors in resilience is self awareness.
When you can catch yourself when you’re feeling stress activation or identify your emotions this is where you can create the biggest change in the shortest time.
The more aware you are of what’s going on in your brain and body, the easier it is to use the part of your brain responsible for conscious thought processing. Here you can challenge your thoughts.
Developing optimism is a huge part of resilience. I can attest to this as a previous Eeyore on a bad day. Asking yourself how COULD this become a positive in the future or what positives COULD come from this situation?
When I tell people now how negative and worst case scenario I used to be they don’t believe me. That’s purely as a result of doing this work.
The work has been building my confidence, working with my nervous system, understanding how I tick as a human and being, being able to objectively look at all the things i’ve been through and come out the other side.
Collecting the relevant evidence.
Leaning on people and learning that i don’t have to do everything on my own and it’s actually better for me if I don’t.
If I can do it, so can you. I believe in you.
Fran Excell, Success Mindset Mentor at www.franexcell.com – Helping Business Owners & Executives Overcome Stress & Self Sabotage so they can get back their time, get off the emotional rollercoaster and feel more in control.
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© 2023 Fran Excell. Success mindset mentor for entrepreneurs & executives.