When ‘Everyday Resilience’ Becomes a Habit, You Can Bounce Back Better
When resilience truly becomes our default mode and habitual way of relating to the world, life starts to take on a truly different meaning and feeling. What do I mean by that? When we think of the traditional definition of resilience, we often think of, ‘the ability to bounce back’, ‘flexibility’, ‘getting back up after challenges’, etc. I would like to expand that definition to include ‘with a sense of appreciation for all of our experience and having learnt something new about ourselves / the situation / the world / other people. In a sense you could say that not only is it the ability to bounce back, but to bounce back stronger and wiser than before.
The key here is that resilience isn’t just about being better at recovering. True and meaningful resilience also contains within it:
appreciation of all of life’s experience and,
a willingness to learn and grow from whatever life throws at us.
In this way resilience isn’t just something that we do, it is a nuanced set of mindsets that we cultivate over time that enable us to relate to ourselves and our experience of life in healthier and happier ways.
In a world where complexity, change and surprises are the new normal, surely nothing could be more important than maximising our potential, our wellbeing and our happiness through cultivation of the skill of Resilience.
The good news is that everyone and anyone can train themselves to meet the opportunities and challenges of life in healthier ways. Today we would like to share some techniques with you that are specifically designed to maximise your ‘everyday resilience’ in ‘everyday resilience situations’ such as:
How can I maintain a constructive mindset when dealing with agitated customers all day long?
How can I manage my emotions when I’ve just been presented with an unrealistic deadline?
How can I reset myself when I’ve just received some unexpected feedback from a team member?
How can I refocus on what’s most important when the objectives of the project I am working on have just changed?
The reason we call these situations ‘everyday resilience situations’ is because some of these at least are common challenges that most of us will come across in our normal day to day at work. We can differentiate these from the larger tests of resilience in life that we will experience at one time or another such as losing someone close to us, experiencing a serious illness ourselves, getting a divorce, losing our job, or struggling to pay the mortgage. What these ‘everyday resilience situations’ have in common is that:
a) they aren’t about life or death, but our brains often trick us into believing this is the case, and,
b) if we don’t practice our resilience skills with these smaller situations, it’s going to be a lot harder to pick ourselves up when the really tough life changing situations do come along.
So, here’s our Everyday Resilience techniques to help you manage each of these situations:
1, How can I maintain a constructive mindset when dealing with agitated customers all day long?
THE 16 SECOND RECOVERY & CONNECT – The first part of this technique is taken from the world of professional Tennis, and is perhaps the simplest technique of them all. In between calls, take 16 second to focus on your breathing. Breathe in for 4 counts and breath out for 8 counts. This will calm your nervous system and allow you a simple yet effective ‘reset’ and downshift of your nervous system. As an added bonus, see if you can visualize yourself greeting your next customer as you start the call as you ask yourself in your own mind, ‘what would be of most service for this person right now.’
2. How can I manage my emotions when I’ve just been presented with an unrealistic deadline?
CHANGE IT UP – use this technique when you are feeling stuck. On a post-it note, write on one side the current challenge you are facing. On the other side, write the solution to the challenge, even if you don’t believe it can happen or is true. So, you might write on one side, ‘I don’t have enough time to do this’, and on the other side you might write, ‘I have enough time to be able to finish this task and meet my deadline’. This simple technique challenges us to open to possibility, literally tricking our brain into seeing new possibilities for achieving the deadline. Just try it and see what happens.
3. How can I reset myself when I’ve just received some unexpected feedback from a team member?
SETTLE THE SURPRISE – In a world where change is a constant, it can be easy to get knocked off balance by unexpected challenges, setbacks and their resulting thoughts and emotions. Learning to create spaciousness in our minds and bodies when we experience something we weren’t expecting, can be a great way to manage our emotions and mindsets more skilfully. For this technique, we suggest sitting for a few minutes and observing your thoughts and emotions, without reacting to them. If you can, label each emotion or thought that comes up, as this will help you to see it more clearly. This observer capacity allows us to create much needed perspective when we are triggered by strong emotions, settling the mind and the body, to enable a more skilful response.
4. How can I refocus on what’s most important when the objectives of the project I am working on have just changed?
WHAT’S CALLED FOR NOW? – We’ve all been there haven’t we. We’ve been working on a project for months and suddenly everything changes. Objectives, deadlines, project team and deliverables. When we’ve already invested a lot of time and energy into something it can be easy to feel deflated, demotivated, frustrated and annoyed when this happens. This is natural. When we are feeling like this it is difficult to see clearly and to know what to do next. For this technique, we suggest the following: Settle your mind by focusing on your breath for a few moments, then widen your focus to your entire body, just notice how you are feeling. For the last part of the technique, just ask yourself in your own mind a simple and powerful question: ‘What’s called for now?’. Just see what comes up for you and then after you have finished, write down what came up for you as you asked that question. When we stop for long enough to reflect and get a different perspective, often the right way forward reveals itself to us with little effort.
Each of these everyday resilience techniques allows us to reset ourselves and to create the space not only to recover from our setbacks, but to learn and grow from them, with an appreciation of the inevitable complexity of life. Let us know how you get on with trying out these different techniques and remember that building new habits takes time, patience and a healthy dose of self-compassion.
Emma Carbery, Managing Director, Mindfulness Dubai.