Have you noticed that some people seem to get right back up after a setback, while others take a really long time to get over it? Since the 1970s there has been a growing interest in research of resilience: the ability to overcome adversity. Psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and researchers have all found that some people are better at bouncing back from hardships than others. But why? What’s their secret? It turns out that there are strategies you can implement in your daily life so you too can bounce back quicker from stress and hardships.
Studies of author and researcher Brené Brown and other studies have narrowed down what makes some people resilient:
- They have good problem-solving skills
- They are more likely to ask for help
- They believe that they can do something that will help them to manage their feelings and cope with the situation
- They have social support available to them
- They have good relationships with family and/or friends
After interviewing people for her research, Brown discovered that all resilient people have another thing in common: spirituality. She defines spirituality as “recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.”
From this foundation of spirituality, Brown found three other significant components that are essential to resilience (Brown, 2006; Brown, 2010). Let’s have a closer look to what they can mean to our daily lives.
You’d probably think that hope is an emotion. However, in this case we are talking about a thought process. Hope happens when you set goals, when you pursue these goals, and when you believe in your abilities to achieve these goals. What does this mean for daily life situations? Every time you have a task to do, you should:
- Set a realistic goal: I know where I want to go.
- Figure out how to achieve that goal: I know how to get there, I am persistent, and I can tolerate disappointment and try again.
- Believe in your abilities: I can do this!
Just keep in mind that some tasks are fun, fast, and easy, and some are not. If it’s easy, it doesn’t mean that it has less value than a difficult goal and it’s not worth doing it. If it’s hard, it doesn’t mean that you’re not good at it. Each goal is different and not every goal will look and feel the same.
We often let our lives be controlled by shame which leads to having thoughts such as “I must be the ONLY one with…” However, when we zoom out from our flawed selves, we start to see many people around us with the same struggles. “You too? I can’t believe it! I thought it was just me!” Once we realize that we’re truly never the only ones with insecurities, we become better to reality-check our shame triggers and the thoughts that we’re never good enough. So next time you face disappointment you can practice critical thinking to deal and accept the emotions you’re having at the moment and bounce back to try again to achieve success!
When we experience hardships or stress, we sometimes engage in behavior that helps us to numb those negative feelings. However, there is no such thing as selectively numbing feelings. When you numb the negative, painful emotions, you also numb the positive emotions. Resilient people are not immune to numbing, but the difference is that they are aware of the dangers of numbing and have developed the ability to feel their way through high-vulnerability experiences. They have developed skills and emotional practice that is needed to “lean into discomfort”.
Next time you have a tough experience, you can analyze your own behavior with the sentence “Am I using eating/drinking/gambling/working sixty hours a week/spending to hide or escape from the reality of my life?” If the answer is yes, try to let yourself feel these negative emotions, understand them, and try to tackle them with realistic goals.
We live in a time where information about each others’ lives has become easily accessible. All the different types of social media have made it possible for us to constantly compare our own progress in life with others. This can cause stress and frustration. Those negative emotions can block your extraordinary mind and your capabilities from achieving great things in life. We are not only part of the Online Generation, but also of the generation that wants to do it all: have a full-time job, a family, a social life. Because of this, it becomes even more important to learn to keep your body and mind healthy. Being completely aware and having control of your emotions and actions is wildly empowering!