Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness; the ability to bounce back. This applies to both the body and the mind. I like to think of myself as a resilience coach in that I teach people ways to keep going, to try again, to take that next small step.
So, what goes through your head when you stumble? Do you give up, question your goals, or blame others for the difficulty? Do you expect that things should go smoothly or that something must be wrong with you because there are obstacles that you didn’t plan for along the way?
If we can stop asking ‘why’ and ‘what is wrong with me’ and start asking questions like ‘how can I learn from this’ or ‘what is the next small step forward I can take’, we can move through life with more ease.
In her book Grit, Angela Duckworth refers to a Japanese saying: Fall 7, Rise 8. Through her research, she discovered that success comes from passion and perseverance rather than purely through talent levels. That means that success in anything can be achieved if we want it badly enough to keep on trying even when the going gets tough.
If you google “famous failures”, you will find a LONG list of successful people who refused to give up and who overcame all kinds of obstacles on their journey toward their goals. Yes, they may have talent, but everyone does in some area. The success came from their trying again and again. When you look deeper into “overnight success” stories, you typically find that the overnight success came after years and years of hard work and effort.
Yesterday, I was having a discussion about resilience with a mental health client of mine. She was talking about how “hard” it is to keep trying. I then asked her two questions:
- What do you expect the journey to look like? This helped me to get a better idea of her perspective, expectations, and mindset. She was coming from a view that many people have: that we should be able to go from point A to point B and it should be one straight, smooth shot with no obstacles along the way. We discussed the reality of life doing its own thing regardless of her expectations and desires, as well as how little she really has control over. This was also where we addressed her concern that something is wrong with her simply because life is difficult. Once we started talking about it out loud, she was able to shift her perspective and see that everyone experiences challenges every day.
- How badly do you want it? This was so that I could gauge her committment to feeling differently and working toward that goal. We discussed her desire to change and how she would be much more uncomfortable staying where she is than putting forth the effort to reach a different outcome.
I have found that many people believe that happiness and success in life should just come automatically; that there should be no effort that has to be applied in feeling happy. They believe that some people just are happy and that they are not one of those people. But, the universe is not set up to make you happy. There are many things that happen on the journey that are very challenging, but those are the things that force us to grow and to become the next best version of ourselves. And when we are on the verge of growth, the challenges multiply and grow in force as if ask us if we are really willing to put in the effort for the payoff.
So, where do you begin? With one small step. Keep trying. Get back up. You don’t have to change it all at once or reach your goals in one day. Plot out where you want to be and then reverse engineer the baby steps to get there back to where you are today. Celebrate the small victories and remind yourself that it has nothing to do with you personally- life is just challenging and we weren’t given a handbook. However, I am hopeful that this helps.
You are more resilient than you give yourself credit for.
Take one step today. I will be getting back up right next to you.
Chat again soon,