While no one wants to deal with bad times, the truth is: all of us sometimes have to. But, you can use these phases to your advantage, instead of letting them destroy you.
Psychiatrist David Reiss uses the physical strength analogy to explain resilience. “Each individual is born with innate potential of differing degrees; early training, lack of training, illness or injury aids or inhibits potential,” says Reiss. “But wherever you start as an adult there are ways to improve your ability, at least, to some degree.”
Is the going getting tough for you? Here are six suggestions to help you build resilience:
Develop a support network:
Your social ties can protect you from the damaging impact of adversity. “While not everyone has a supportive family, everyone can develop a support network by nurturing your group of friends,” says Kenneth R. Yeager, associate professor, clinical department of psychiatry, Ohio State University’s Harding Hospital. Go out to dinner once a week or to an event to avoid staying home. Moreover, surround yourself with positive people who will help you bounce back from setbacks.”
Care about the world around you. “Volunteering and helping others for a cause that is near to your heart and values can help you build resiliency,” says Yeager. “Giving to others is frequently the path to receiving support for you during difficult times.”
Shift your reference point:
When the going gets tough, people start to suffer from ‘why me’ syndrome. “So many people get hung up on trying to understand ‘why’ its happening that they develop patterns rooted in anger and depression,” says San Jose-based psychotherapist Sharon Martin. Focus instead on how you can cope with the situation. Think solutions, not problems.
Are you sure your situation is really that devastating? Maybe not. “We usually tend to exaggerate when something goes wrong, calling it life changing, or a disaster, which may not be the case. So, take a moment and reflect,” says Reiss. Try to look at the situation from the outside, even when the situation is truly negative, this way you can see that the impact may not go as far in to the future as you fear.
Engage in positive self-talk:
Negative self-talk (like “This is the end of my career!” or “I’m going to die!”) comes to you naturally when you’re going through a tough time. Try instead to say positive things to yourself, such as “Let me be open to new possibilities” and, “I’m open and receptive to a new way of approaching my life.” “When you shift your self-talk to be more positive and open, your intuition works better in times of crisis,” – Lynn Robinson, author of Listen: Trusting Your Inner Voice in Times of Crisis.
No adversities in life? Try finding new challenges that will drive you out of your comfort zone. Dealing with new challenges, especially when you are successful, helps develop a sense of mastery, which may make it easier to find control when you are facing tough times in the future. Fear adventure sports? Give yourself some stress—try bungee jumping.
When you’re faced with a tough situation, it may help to remember the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous words: “That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.”