We have always lived in a time when the ability to be resilient in the face of pain, tragedy, illness and disappointment was an asset. Let’s face it – having the ability to be resilient in our every day life experience can be an asset. How many times during a single day – are we faced with a change of course – or a challenge?
So – what is resilience? Resilience is the ability to bend without breaking – and the good news is that it can be taught! And I did teach resilience when I was a teacher of kindergarten children in a very rough section of the Bronx. So – no matter what you are going through right now – infertility – a relationship difficulty – or a work issue – you too can learn to bend without breaking! So here is what I taught the kids – maybe there is something in there for you:
Tools For Resilience:
1. “How did trees get to be so tall?” I would ask my class? After all – “There are very big storms! The winds can blow very hard” – The answer? The trees that grew tall – learned how to bend with the high winds without breaking. They learned how to move with the weather. So you are not in Kindergarten – where are the high winds in your life – how can you move with them instead of against them or until the weather changes? If it helps – get out some crayons and draw a picture!
2. What can you do to take your mind off of the stress that the situation is causing you? Can you distract yourself in some way? Go for a walk? Call a friend – play a mindless game on Facebook?
3. Take stock! Is the stress real? Is what is happening in your life at this moment really happening – or is it a story that you made up? Sometimes we actually make up stories in our own heads that can cause us stress. Is your friend really mad at you – or just distracted? Is your boss having a bad day in his own life – and does it truly have nothing to do with you? Is your co-worker pregnant or does she really just not want to drink wine at the company picnic because she simply does not feel like it? Try not to make up stories that can cause you stress for no reason!
4. No one knows all the answers all the time. We are often confronted with situations where we don’t know what to do – or what to say. When you are in this situation – my suggestion is to be gentle with yourself. Often people deal with trauma, stress or upset by either avoiding their feelings or pushing themselves harder into activities like work. Sometimes – we simply need a time out. You don’t have to answer the phone to take that difficult call if you are not ready. Let it go to voice mail. You can sometimes be in control of when you deal with a crisis. Take the call when you are ready. Take a break from the situation – give yourself a glass of milk and some cookies! Breathe.
What do you do when you are in difficult situations? Do you have tools of resilience that you could share? Perhaps your Kindergarten teacher had a few life lessons? Please leave them here!