Dr. Denise E. Hall
I found this article I wrote in 2012 and I thought it would be very timely given the challenges we are facing with COVID-19. We have lots of organizations and web resources to provide support during this time, but I thought there were some excellent tips in this article. I am hoping you and your loved ones and friends are managing OK. Things are rapidly changing and unpredictable and in the short term we can usually manage OK. There is no telling how long we will be dealing with these extraordinary circumstances. This article might offer something for you:
What does it take to survive and thrive in challenging times? How can we develop “hardiness’ to weather life’s inevitable challenges? It looks like rapid change and unpredictability are here to stay. Developing skills and focus that will serve to keep us floating above the surface instead of being pulled into the current and sweeping us down the river.
Joan Borysenko PhD. in her book It is Not the End of the World cites Diane Coutu’s definition of resilience:
“Resilience is a reflex, a way of facing and understanding the world, that is deeply etched into a person’s mind and soul. Resilient people and companies face reality with staunchness, make meaning of hardship instead of crying out in despair, and improvise solutions from thin air. Others do not”
She suggests there are three secrets to resilient thinking:
1. A resolute acceptance of reality
2. A deep belief that life is meaningful
3. An uncanny ability to improvise
In #1, “A resolute acceptance of reality” accepting reality is important. No matter how we try to avoid or escape reality when and if we wake up, it will bite us. If we are no longer 25, we can no longer really act like a 25-year-old. If we have bills to pay, we cannot avoid them. We cannot wish them away or fall into addictions to blot out the truth. The longer we avoid reality the harder it is to make changes that need to be made. If we are unhappy in our job, we need to do something about it. No amount of wishing and waiting will necessarily change the fact.
Resilient thinkers deal with issues. No matter how hard or challenging the situation they face things head-on. It might take a little while to get there, but they do, and the crazy thing is, sometimes the fear of facing reality is worse than actual reality.
#2 “A deep belief that life is meaningful” suggests that having a meaningful life is important. Friedrich Nietzsche said ” those who have a ‘why’ to live for can bear with almost any ’how’.
Whether you believe in “karma” or “that everything happens for a reason”, or in organized religion, most people have created meaning for their life and life events. They find spirituality provides a source of strength, whether it is the deep belief in nature or the Koran.
#3 “An uncanny ability to improvise” suggests that when “we get lemons, we make lemonade”. We are able to “roll with the punches” and “pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off” and find creative ways to move forward. How many people have found their job has left them for one reason or another? It was devastating but for many of us it has been the best thing that has ever happened. We ended up taking a different direction in life that turned out to be much more rewarding than what we had before. Alternatively, we created a new product, became an entrepreneur, or went back to school.
Improvising means using what you have and making it work for you. You have a skill or product that someone else might want. You can barter or trade services. You do not need money when you improvise; you create something out of your own resources.
These three secrets have one thing in common. They are all display optimism; “the glass is half full not half empty”. This requires quieting the committee of negative voices in our head and focusing on our strengths.
Resiliency is the key to navigating life challenges. Believing in yourself and your strengths will go a long way to turning challenges around and moving on. I am offering telephone and video counselling at this time. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Take good care of yourself.
References: Joan Borysenko PhD. It is Not the End of the World, Hay House Carlsbad, CA.