The Psych Central Report

Resilience:
Strategies in Developing a Resilient Mindset

SS8282
July/August 2005

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In Part 1, we have learned that resilience is a set of assumptions or attitudes individuals have about themselves that influence their behaviors and the skills they develop. These behaviors and skills, in turn, influence this set of assumptions so that a "dynamic process" is operating continuously -- they feed on each other.

Part 2 discusses various strategies we can implement to develop a positive, more resilient mindset or attitude.

Here in Part 3, I describe in more in-depth details of these strategies.

Although it might seem like a lot, all of us have used some of these strategies at some time or other, but what I suggest is for you to focus on these exercises when you do them.

Make Connections and Develop Support System

There is no shame, or embarrassment in asking for support when you need it. Seek out family members or friends whom you trust. Find a counselor or therapist to help you cope with your problem(s) or issue(s). You can even search in the internet for support groups. Everyone needs help sometimes – EVERYONE.

Be Empathic

Try to see from other people’s perspective, This way you can understand their thoughts and feelings, and this, in turn, can help you feel less resentful or other negative feelings towards them.

Communicate Effectively: Active Listening and Validation

Communication involves listening and speaking, and it also includes both verbal and non-verbal language (i.e. body language).

How you talk to people, your words, tone of voice, and body language, is important in how people interpret what you say. The same goes when other people are talking to you.

Validate what they say. It does not mean agreement, but rather understanding without belittling. Acknowledge that what they say may be true to THEM. Then clarify what they said you if need to.

Follow Your Own Advice

It is often said that it is easier to help others than it is to help ourselves. Talk to yourself as if you are someone else who has come to you for help. What would you suggest if that person has the same problem?

Avoid Seeing Crises as Insurmountable Problems

Ask yourself, “How ‘big’ is the problem? How does it affect me comes next month, next year? What can I do to solve the problem?”

Deal Effectively with Mistakes

Resilient people tend to perceive mistakes as learning experiences and growth. They do not “sweep them under the rug.” Do not blame other people for being “incompetent.” Attribute mistakes to where they really belong. Perhaps they are due to uncontrollable circumstances, or perhaps, they were due to poor communication. Sometimes all we have to do is to say “I’m sorry” to make things better, and learn from our mistakes.

Accept That Change is Part of Living

Things change, from second to second. Being flexible and adaptable to changes will help you go a long way. It is much harder and more stressful to resist change. For example, you have been working alone in a cubicle for a few years. One day, your company has hired a new person and has decided to expand your cubicle space to accommodate a desk for the new person. Now you have to share your “space” with someone else. It is easier to ‘adjust’ to sharing your area than trying to have that new person sit somewhere else. It would be helpful to be optimistic – perhaps something good would come out of having another person sitting next to you.

Establish Goals

Set some goals and ways to achieve them. Then do them.

Take Decisive Actions

Make a decision and do it. Sitting on the fence does not help. Some decisions are established for you (i.e. your job). Think carefully and, if appropriate, act on it.

Look for Opportunities for Self-Discovery

Self-development helps boost self-esteem. The higher your self-esteem is, the higher your confidence is in yourself, and your resilience gets sturdier. Take courses, or read books, on how to increase your self-esteem, be a better communicator, etc.

Nurture a Positive View of Yourself

Find a few things that are good about you. Ask people whom you trust to give you a few suggestions. Once you have a few “good points,” build on them. Do something with them. For example, if you like helping people, volunteer at a hospital.

Keep Things in Perspective

When something negative happens, it is very easy to think it is worse than it really is. Try to view it as objectively as possible. You might even need to take a step back, or wait a day to think about it.

Maintain an Optimistic Outlook.

A pessimist believes that nothing good will happen, so he or she would not even try. He or she will constantly be anxious, unhappy, and stressed.

On the other hand, an optimist believes that good things will happen, or see something positive in every situation. This kind of person believes that dreams do come true. The optimist is more at peace with him or herself. He or she is happier and is more satisfied with life.

Take Care of Yourself

Everyone needs some TLC, and the best person to give you that is yourself. You are also the person who knows what you need and when.

Take time to de-stress and recharge yourself. You can do that by doing some exercises, gardening, taking long baths, listening to music, doing some yoga, or meditate. Take a break and relax.

Accept Yourself and Others

You cannot like yourself if you don’t accept yourself. You are who you are. Find something positive about yourself and build on it. Nobody is perfect.

Learning and accepting yourself are big step into feeling better about yourself and others around you.

Develop Self-Discipline and Self-Control

Think before you act. Think about what you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve it.

You are in control – what you think, what you do, and what you say. You are responsible for your own actions.

Changing the Words of Life

All too often, we get into the habit of negative ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. This way of thinking only restricts us of our potential and enjoyment of life.

Here are seven steps to change your thinking:

  • Identify your negative thoughts, and own them. Take responsibility for your thoughts and change them.
  • Define short-and-long term goals relevant to the issue at hand.
  • Think of positive thoughts or action plans that support and promote your goals.
  • From those new thoughts, choose the one you believe has the greatest chance of success.
  • Anticipate potential obstacles and ways to handle them.
  • Act on the new thought you have decided on and evaluate its effectiveness.
  • Change goals/thoughts or approach if the selected course of action does not work. Keep trying until something works.

Choose to Become Stress Hardy

Stress is your reaction to “life”: what you need to do (i.e. – getting out of bed), to what is said or done to you (i.e. – being attacked). You are responsible to your own action. What you feel is valid, but what you choose to do as a result of those feelings is in your control.

Maintain a Resilient Lifestyle

Practice the above exercises. The more you practice, the easier they will get.

The purpose of the above strategies is to help you develop a more resilient mindset and attitude. They help build your confidence and feel better about yourself, both emotionally and physically. It is known that how you feel about yourself and how stressful you are have an impact on your physical health. The more resilient you are, the more immune you are to illnesses, such as colds.

Keep in mind that there may be times when something happens and you feel as if your resilience has gone down. That is okay. Give yourself time, and rebuild yourself little by little. Go talk to someone for support.

One of the most important things to remember is that we all, everyone, is, to varying degree, are resilient. If we work at it, we can all strengthen our resilience.

References:

"Resilience to Stress"; CME Texas Medical Association

"The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life"; Robert Brooks, Ph.D. and Sam Goldstein, Ph.D; The McGraw-Hill Companies, 2003.

'The Road to Resilience" Brochure by American Psychological Association and Discovery Health Channel.

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Jun 2005
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

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-- Jim Loehr