How to become more resilient in 2014

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Resilience is the term used to describe a person’s capacity to cope with changes, face challenges and bounce back during difficult times. Most of you reading this will know someone who always manages to smile despite adversity. Indeed, you too will at times have demonstrated resilience in the face of difficulties. Look back to a time when you faced problems in your life and somehow managed to cope using your own resources? How did you manage it? What kept you going?

What I aim to convey in this piece is how to shore up and galvanise your resources to help you develop greater resilience. It may be that you are doing this already, then well done. What better to time to give it some thought though than the beginning of 2014.

Here is a description of the qualities of resilience we are aspiring for:

“The person who is resilient will be able to recognise and manage their own emotions, and acknowledge that others too have feelings and understand what they are going through. The person who is resilient will be able to stand alone, with a strong sense of self and self-worth. They will be able to make decisions, solve problems and be able to rely on their own resources to do so. They will have a clear sense of direction and purpose in life.”

Does this sound like a tall order? Well, this is something to aspire to, and should be viewed as “work in progress.” If you understand the principals it will be a set of skills you can aim to master (a bit like learning to ride a bicycle or driving a car).

Here are ten tips:

1. Even in the face of setbacks try to develop a “positive mental attitude”. Step back and look at the bigger picture if possible. Is there another way of looking at this? Can you see any other way of looking at this setback so as to draw some positive from it?

2. Believe in your own abilities and trust your own judgement. Be open and honest with others.

3. Communicate with others whenever you can and try to give positive feedback and encouragement. Try not to be critical, harsh or judgemental. Remember, they too are trying to do their best and just like us, they might get it wrong sometimes.

4. Work to build, maintain and develop support networks. Find someone you can turn to who can become a role model or mentor. Find someone to trust and confide in. Support those around you and allow them to support you.

5. Aim to foster mutual respect between those around you and the wider world. Recognise the pressures and outside influences on others. Take time out to explore new places and meet new people.

6. Take every opportunity to learn and develop yourself. Assist in the learning and development of others.

7. Strive to foster inclusion and belonging. Involve others in decision making wherever possible, celebrate diversity and promote mental well-being in your community.

8. Take time to have fun and be fun. Learn to laugh at yourself and see the funny side of things. Try to take life “less seriously” when you don’t have to.

9. Involve yourself in community projects and activities to help others. Seek opportunities to think and act in enterprising ways.

10. Remember, above all, you are “good enough” just as you are. Expect that some days won’t be great. Stop comparing yourself and embrace your failures as opportunities to learn, we all have to.

Until next time, Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

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