As this marathon pandemic continues, we face almost daily change and challenges that require us to adapt and respond in new ways. How can we develop resilience or the ability to persevere through adversity? We all have some level of resilience from the day to day challenges we’ve survived in the past. Reminding yourself of how you endured and dealt with those challenges might bring new insights for strategies that you can use now. Recognition that you have survived all your past trials may boost your confidence in taking on new ones. If you find that more skills are needed, or you simply want to improve your ability to endure and persevere in hard times, read on.
First, reflect on how you survived previous difficulties, even if they were not significant issues. Often it’s small steps that get you started. Make a list of “ways you got through tough times” and what worked best. Evaluate if those strategies had positive or negative consequences and whether they might be helpful in your current situation. If some strategies were particularly beneficial, try them again and adapt them to meet your current needs.
Most importantly, challenge negative thoughts that you “should” be able to deal with this. These are unusual and extraordinary times, so give yourself the benefit of the doubt. You are doing the best you can under the circumstances. Focus your energy on what you want to improve in your life. If negative thoughts pop up in your head, acknowledge the feeling, challenge the negative idea, and concentrate on a positive solution or action.
Consider utilizing and expanding your social support network. Just like reflecting on how you have made it through tough times, consider your friend group. Who leaves you feeling positive and energized, and who saps your energy? Consider your effect on others as well. Sometimes reconnecting with a friend or family member to touch base may rekindle a positive relationship and support. Even if all you discuss is how you are getting by, it opens the door to more meaningful situations in the future, and the result is both of you feel less isolated. Find fun ways to connect, such as texting a joke to each other daily or sending a coded message your friend has to decode. Spontaneous kindness is beneficial for the giver as well as the recipient.
How do you develop and strengthen your capacity for resilience? Janna Cachola said, “Resilience is not about being able to bounce back like nothing has happened. Resilience is your consistent resistance to giving up.” Resilience has a lot to do with your beliefs and the power of your everyday choices. Developing resilience means you continue to focus on what you can do instead of what you cannot. It’s taking a realistic look at your current situation and saying, “How can I make the best of this?” It is reminding yourself that you have survived tough times, and this time is no exception. It is looking within at beliefs and thoughts that might hold you back and how you can change those thoughts to a more positive and productive one.
I like this quote by T.B. LaBerge, “You’ll have moments when you feel like a lion, and moments when you feel like a mouse. No matter how you feel, you still have a heartbeat and a soul worthy of love. So roar when you are feeling small because you are more than the feelings you have”. Become resilient. You are worth the investment.
©2020 Peggi White Behavioral Health