How to be resilient in difficult times

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“How you react to the issue, IS the issue.”

― Habib Sadeghi, Within

Difficult times come for us all at some point, right? What makes some individuals better able to cope with life transitions and change than others? After hitting some rough times, myself, recently, I’ve been pondering this question. Often it is in times of adversity during which we truly find out the truth about our strength—not only how much we can withstand, but also from where it is derived. Knowing that tough times will occur, we have some choices on how to deal with this fact. We all know some individuals who have resolved to exist in a state of perpetual worry and anxiety, believing that, if they think through every possible horrible potential event, they will then be adequately prepared for whatever occurs. This is a terribly ineffective approach, because, trust me, the way the event unfolds that will implode your life almost never occurs in the way you thought it would. It’s usually something that will happen on a random Sunday, when everything seems fine—this is what will take you to your knees. Another approach preferred by some, is to just expect the worst, and then if it doesn’t happen, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. This is also known as “hope for the best, and plan for the worst.” In my opinion, this is an anxious and depressing recipe for living.

A healthier option is to consistently cultivate your inner resources and outer support system. This just makes sense. If we know that life is unpredictable, and are able to accept that bad things happen to good people every second of every day, then the best use of our energy is to nurture the inner and outer strengths in our life. Inner strength would involve taking a look at your inner dialogue and spiritual relationship within the context of your belief system. Having self compassion is a big part of this.

Building your outer support system, has to do with the people in your life who accept you unconditionally. The trick here is that you have to actually allow them to fully know you, which involves full disclosure and vulnerability. I’m currently finding out how much I prefer to be the giver of support rather than on the receiving end of help. When we hold ourselves to a standard of perfectionism or isolation, it completely interferes with even giving others the opportunity to lend support to us.

Both of these aspects, our internal state and our external support system, have a huge impact on how we will be able to weather the difficult times in our lives.

I came across an article from “Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life” that has some nuts and bolts advice on how to cultivate resilience during difficult times. It suggests five strategies for resilience: 1) Change the narrative, 2) Face your fears, 3) Practice self-compassion, 4) Meditate, and 5) Cultivate forgiveness. Check out the article here. 

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