Dealing with change or loss is an inevitable part of life and is particularly important when faced with the breakdown of a relationship. Resilience is the quality that allows some people to be knocked by life and yet come back stronger than before. It is not about denying that painful experiences happen, rather about how you deal with them at the time.
Some people are naturally more resilient than others. But the good news is that we can all develop our ability to cope and recover rather than feeling overwhelmed and stuck. Some practical things that will help develop resilience are to:
Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems
You can’t change the fact that stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events.
- Distinguish between what you can change and what you can’t
Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on the things that are within your power to do something about.
- Focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want
When you find yourself going over all that is wrong with the situation, turn your thoughts to what you want instead – framed in the positive i.e.. what you do want rather than what you don’t want.
- Regulate emotions
Identify and label what you are feeling (this is also helpful for other people too, so if someone is emotional, just your being able to witness and label what they are experiencing can be very helpful. E.g.. “I know this is really hard for you and you’re feeling betrayed right now”). Be mindful of how you feel and don’t judge or deny your emotional experience. You aren’t a bad person for feeling angry, sad or fearful. Allow the emotional experience and work through it.
- Move toward your goals
Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a tiny step— that moves you towards them. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?”
- Look for opportunities for self-development and awareness
People often learn something about themselves and find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.
- Nurture a positive view of yourself
Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience. Remember past achievements and notice how things have often turned out better than you imagined.
- Keep things in perspective
Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion. It can help to think of how you will view this situation a year or five years from now.
- Maintain a hopeful outlook
An optimistic outlook enables you to begin to expect that good things will happen in your life. Discipline yourself to visualise what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.
- Take care of yourself
Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find nurturing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.
“You may not control all the events that happen to you,
but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”