The word “resilience” in our vocabulary has had a specific meaning and/or connotation over the past few years. It is often found applied to a generation of young people along with the term “millennials”. As with all generalizations, neither term is particularly helpful to the individual. Moreover, at times the terms seem to be used in an unrelatable way.
Here is a dictionary definition of resilience that might be a more useful place to start:
the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
“the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions”
the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
If you are a resilient person you are far more likely to have robust mental health, which in turn has a positive impact on your physical health. Even the toughest, most optimistic, and positive individuals do have their breaking point, however, so it is worth looking at the way you deal with setbacks and disappointments generally. If you can develop a positive mindset towards dealing with difficulties in your daily life this can bring its own considerable health benefits to all areas of your emotional, mental and physical interactions. If you can train your mind to focus on the lessons to be learned from a setback, rather than focusing on what went wrong and who was to blame you will be doing yourself a massive favor.
How To Cultivate Resilience
There are as many techniques for doing this as there are individuals, and each person will have a slightly different attitude towards their own resilience and reactions to difficult situations. However, there are some tried and tested ways to retrain your brain so that you are no longer stuck in either “victim” or “catastrophizing” mode.
It is possible to, in effect, “rewire” your brain through a wide variety of interventions and actions. Our brains are immensely complex and medical science is nowhere near to explaining a fraction of the potential of this amazing organ. What is accepted, though, is that the brain can, through a process called Neuroplasticity, learn to compensate for a loss in one area by training a new area to take over the function of the damaged part. If, for example, you have suffered from head trauma and have lost the power of speech, your mind and body can literally train new brain cells, in a different part of the brain, to take over the language processing function.
How Does this Help with Resilience?
Let us assume that you are not happy with the way you deal with difficulties and setbacks at the present moment. The first thing to do, in order to begin the process of changing your mindset for the better, is to acknowledge the ways you react now. Do you often blame yourself for everything that goes wrong in your life? Are you more likely to blame others and refuse to accept your own part in the difficulty that has arisen? Do you react very quickly to negative situations without taking the time to stop and think? Are you often short-tempered and angry? Do you deflate and retreat from difficult situations to nurse your own feelings? Are you prone to self-pity?
To make this exercise a little more manageable, pick a situation that arises quite often for you in your life, to which you really wish you could react differently. Acknowledge the way you react now, without judging yourself, and then find a place to relax. Using soothing sounds, such as singing bowls and gongs is an excellent way to bring your body and your mind into a receptive and relaxed state.
Now take your awareness outside of your body and see yourself as a detached, compassionate observer. Notice how your behavior, the words you use, and the things you do have an impact on your own mood and feelings, as well as on the feelings of those around you.
As you stay calm, relaxed, and observing you can begin to explore different scenarios in your mind. For example, instead of allowing any negative or diminishing self-talk to arise when things go wrong, visualize yourself standing taller, breathing more deeply, and speaking with conviction about the best way to deal with what has happened.
Try out different scenarios for different situations. If you know that a certain person is able to trigger you through the way they manipulate language imagine that the next time they try it you decide not to answer them. You are not being rude, you simply make a non-verbal response and nod then turn away. This gives you the time you need to gather your inner resources and to react in a way that brings you a feeling of relief or satisfaction. It also gives you the chance to do the one thing that will really help you to build the correct mindset for maintaining your resilience…
Setting Resilience Boundaries:
What does it mean to “set boundaries” in this context? Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is essential for good mental health. In order to protect yourself, and your energy, from potentially draining and exhausting situations you need to indulge in some self-care and self-love. Many people like to do this as a ritual, a little like meditation but with a strong visualization aspect.
Imagine yourself surrounded by a bubble. The membrane of the bubble can be close to you, or it can extend outwards by many meters. This bubble is part of your aura or biomagnetic field and when it is invaded by unwanted energies, thoughts or vibrations you will feel the ripple effect as an uncomfortable feeling in your physical body and agitation in your mood or mind.
Relax your body and mind by breathing comfortably down into your lower belly. Use relaxing sounds if you find these useful, and concentrate only on yourself. Visualize energy rising up through the soles of your feet from the Earth and down through the Crown of your head from the heavens. Breathe in the energies and allow them to circulate throughout your entire body. Stretch out your arms and turn full circle. See the bubble rippling as your hands describe the circle around you. Extend the bubble down under your feet and up above your head. The membrane of your bubble is porous and will allow love, light, and positive vibrations to enter your energy field, and to emanate outwards from you to the world around you. However, it also blocks any negativity that may be coming your way and keeps harmful thoughts and energies from affecting you.
Devise a sign or “trigger” for yourself to associate your mind with this protective bubble. This can be a simple action, such as touching your forefingers and thumbs together. When you need to activate your energy shield you simply need to perform this action. Make sure that you use the “trigger” when you are fully relaxed, with a clear sense of the bubble you have created.
In order to make this exercise effective, and real, you will probably need to practice several times. It is, in effect, a form of self-hypnosis. This means that you can choose the images, colors, and symbols that are contained within your protective bubble so that they are meaningful to you. Decorate your bubble with whatever pleases you and makes you feel safe. Repeat this relaxation and visualization exercise as many times as you can to begin with. It will soon become your most powerful tool for building the resilience you need.