Resilience and coping with change (Part 2)
As promised … here’s the next five tips for increasing your resilience levels when experiencing change ….
6. Use role models to inspire you through this transition. Find examples of people who inspire you to manage a challenging period in your life. It may be someone you know personally who can mentor and guide you if they have experienced a similar loss/change and have successfully moved on in their life. Just by listening to the news we hear about extraordinary or brave people who manage to maintain belief and optimism in the face of adversity. Reading autobiographies of such people is another way to more deeply understand what kept that person going – you don’t need to do anything as extraordinary but try to identify with the strengths and qualities about the person and see if you can find that within yourself too. Talk it through with someone else if that helps.
7. Practise relaxation skills, meditation and mindfulness. ‘Meditation’ and ‘mindfulness’ are praised for their health benefits in achieving a calm, balanced state of mind through accepting the idea of impermanence. When we accept that all things change, we allow ourselves to live in the present moment, which can profoundly affect how we manage life transitions. It is not to say that mindfulness distracts you from such changes as avoidance or denial of it can also be detrimental. But it might mean that on some days when you feel completely consumed and trapped by the feeling of sadness, mindfulness reminds us that pain and sorrow, are equally impermanent emotions, which means our sorrow may not have to feel so all-consuming. There are many resources on the internet and/or classes and groups available where you can learn such techniques. Aim to create a fixed time of the day when you can regularly practise – the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
8. Think about a time when you have successfully managed a previous transition. As you face a new challenge, use the knowledge that you’ve managed to cope before to give you strength. You can generate more positive thoughts if you take the time to remind yourself about transitions and challenges you have already experienced. Make a list of the ways you’ve been resilient in your life, and consider what traits and actions might be able to see you through the current challenge. By focusing on your strengths instead of your weaknesses, you will feel more empowered to cope with the change. Sometimes it’s too easy to become fixated on events over which we have no power. But rather than focus on blaming others or ‘giving up’ over what feels like an impossible situation, evaluate your level of control over it by asking, “What can I take responsibility for in this situation?” When you look for opportunities to empower yourself and work towards change that is possible, you’re less likely to feel stuck during difficult transitions.
9. Try to seek the personal development opportunities from change. We can all find inner strength that we never believed was within us. Our fight for survival can test us to our limits and lead us to develop new strengths that we can nurture for ourselves and/or to support others. In other areas of change and loss, life-span developmental science demonstrates that getting stuck in life’s routines have been shown to be detrimental to cognitive growth. Changes in our comfortable routine can serve as stimulation to your stagnant nervous systems and allow you to grow new neural pathways. Although life transitions are often difficult, they provide us with an opportunity to assess the direction our lives are taking and are an opportunity to grow and learn.
10. Identify your values and life goals. Sometimes, a change or major life transition can offer the perfect opportunity to realign ourselves to what’s important for us at that specific time of our life. In some cases, it might be the first time we have ever really taken the time to understand ourselves better. Talking to a family member, friend or a professional can be helpful to gain this insight but you can also try writing down what your top 3-5 values are in life ie. What drives you? What belief system do you live by and does your current life reflect this? What are your strengths? What do you enjoy doing? What do you want to be doing more of in your life? Often, when we experience major change, we re are forced to re-evaluate our life – even in our most difficult moments, we can still find something good to harness and nurture.
I hope you found these tips helpful – remember that change doesn’t happen overnight. We need to keep working at it and repeating new patterns until they become the norm. With persistence and perseverance, you can get there! Don’t beat yourself up if you feel unable to practise all of it all of the time, but try to slowly incorporate the techniques back into your life so that they form part of your new habits.
We can gain much strength in the knowledge that we can overcome difficulties and major life changes through tapping into our internal resources – anyone can overcome change if they are determined not to be beaten by the challenges that life throws us!