Written by Telana Simpson
“Life is difficult”.
That’s the opening paragraph in the book “The Road Less Travelled” by M. Scott Peck.
The second paragraph starts:
“This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
Yet even if this fact no longer matters, it is still a fact- that life can be very difficult at times.
One resource that is most useful to us is our ability to be resilient, our ability to bounce back after a difficult patch and keep living our life to the full. And a great thing about resilience is that it can be developed and cultivated.
One of the key aspects of resilience is ego-strength, which is our ability to face reality as it is. This is when we can accept what is- just accept that this is the current status of our life, without necessarily liking it. Just acknowledging that this is how it is right now.
When we have a strong ego strength, we are more able to take effective actions and handle what life throws at us.
We also need to develop an optimistic frame of mind. This is not just positive thinking. It’s more the opposite of “learned helplessness”, a concept that Martin Seligman developed.
When a person has learned to be helpless, they usually see the difficulty in life as personal (it becomes a problem about them themselves), pervasive in space (it affects everything in their life) and permanent in time (it is unchangeable and insurmountable). A resilient person, on the other hand, has developed the optimistic way of looking at things, in that they can distinguish the difficulty as being external in source (as in about “that”, not about “me”), temporary and happening now, and specific to a particular context.
With this optimistic frame of mind, and remembering to keep our self esteem unconditional and in tact, we are more able to not take things personally. This, together with stepping back to get a larger perspective, helps us to bounce back after a set back.
Another component is our trust in and ownership of our abilities. We have four ways, powers or abilities in which we can respond to something. These are our thoughts, our feelings, our words and how we language something, and our ability to take action.
When we understand that it is within our control to give an event meaning (through our ability to think and language something), we can then choose what meaning to give to the situation, so that it can lead us to take effective action. This leaves us in a place of feeling in control and at choice. And it’s much easier to bounce back when we feel we have the ability and choice to do so.
Secret to Resilience
In a nutshell then, being resilient involves facing the set back and accepting the loss or hurt involved. It includes working through the coping process, by applying an optimistic frame of mind to it, stubbornly refusing to make it personal, and getting some perspective by seeing it in the greater scheme of things. It then also involves the come back- where you remember what is within your control, and give the setback a meaning that allows you to take action and bounce back.
And with that secret to resilience in your tool kit for life, the difficulties of life need not keep you down.
To you being resilient,
About the Author:
Telana is a dynamic, transformational Personal Coach and Blogger who specializes in communicating and relating. She is fascinated by consciousness evolution and goes on adventures to push her boundaries and preconceptions. She offers coaching and training programmes to help individuals develop their ability to express themselves and their potentials and improve their relationships, and is a host of an online TV show.