What’s it like to be resilient? A person who is resilient means they are able to survive and/or recover swiftly from difficult situations. There was a time for me that I was not resilient at all. It was back in 2010 when I lost my home during the recession. I had to move in back into my parents house. It was difficult for me because I was a 24 year old newlywed, and a mother of my firstborn who was not even 2 years old. I wanted to show my parents I was capable of living on my own. But I lost my job and did not have any money saved up for situations like this.
But you know what? I was able to overcome it. The bad news is it took me almost 5 years to recover. You may be asking, why so long? I did not have the right support and right ways to cope during those times of difficulty. I had to search and search. I had to try and try. Most of them were a complete flop, and only a few were able to help me carry on and survive another day.
This is why I am here to share 8 steps to become resilient in life. It is not going to take you 5 years like me, trust me.
But before I begin, I want to talk about the book Deep survival by Laurence Gonzales. I love that book because it typically talks about survival, but it can be embedded into many challenges one might face in their lifetime. It could be about coping with the loss of a job to living with a chronic disease or recovering from some type of addiction. It has helped me tremendously during my loss of financial independence. I felt like it was giving me little life lessons on survival. It also reminded me of The Chicken Soup series I used to read when I was in middle school. But Deep survival is at a whole new level of life lessons because it can be applied to your personal life and your professional life. So I am going to share what I learned from reading this book.
8 Steps To Become Resilient In Life
Recognize and Accept
To deal with reality you must first recognize it as such.
When facing difficulty, the first step is to recognize the problem or situation as quickly as possible. Denial is the most common phase when you are facing a bad situation and it is the most difficult to pass through it. If you continue to live in denial, things will get worse and it will come to you fairly quick. But when you know you are in a bad situation, you have the opportunity to act and do something about it.
Control Your Emotions
To survive, you must develop secondary emotions that function in a strategic balance with reason.
What is the first thing that happens when something bad is approaching? You start to panic. Panic, stress, and anxiety are the main antagonists to reason. When you panic, you cannot think clearly. Irrational decisions are not good decisions. Irrational thinking does not help with your every day decision making. A resilient person accepts a difficult situation. They remain calm and analyze things rationally so they can make a grounded plan and act on that plan.
Throw In The Towel
Survival is the celebration of choosing life over death. We know we’re going to die. We all die. But survival is saying: perhaps not today. In that sense, survivors don’t defeat death, they come to terms with it.
Someone who is resilient knows when to bail when it comes to life or death decisions. They know their own limits. They know when to push themselves up to their potential, when to stop and let it go. If you actually think about it, when you know for sure something will not go in your favor no matter how much time and effort you put into it, you become more at peace with it. You will not hit yourself in the head for not trying harder. You will not hate yourself for wasting so much of your time for nothing.
Laughter, then, can help to temper negative emotions. And while all this might seem of purely academic interest, it could prove helpful when your partner breaks his leg at 19,000 feet in a blizzard on a Peruvian mountain. It is not a lack of fear that separates elite performers from the rest of us. They’re afraid, too, but they’re not overwhelmed by it. They manage fear. They use it to focus on taking correct action.
Delusions are not based on accuracy. If the goal is to become accurate, then your goal is not much of a goal to begin with. Successful people have had failed goals every now and then. The difference is when a goal does not work, they move on to the next goal until it does work. The concept of control and the notion to control have a tendency for a higher risk of failure. But it also motivates them to keep trying even when they have failed.
Arrange, Assemble, Construct
We construct an expected world because we can’t handle the complexity of the present one, and then process the information that fits the expected world, and find reasons to exclude the information that might contradict it. Unexpected or unlikely interactions are ignored when we make our construction.
This quote I retrieved from the book, but originally from Charles Perrow, a known sociologist. This step is interesting because survivors most likely have been there, done that. They are prepared for whatever comes. It is contradicting because no one can really prepare for whatever comes, right? But resilient and like-minded individuals know how to have healthy productive habits and remove useless habits. Healthy, good habits do not burden your determination and your drive just like intentional and conscious actions. Healthy, good habits help increase your resilience.
You just have to keep constructing a plan, a path, for what comes next even if you are in the middle of a bad situation. But know how to do it so that it is right for you. What others have done to arrange their lives does not mean that the same arrangement will work for you. You can use it as an inspiration and make it your own. Keep in mind that bad prepping is worse than not prepping at all.
Work, Work, Work
The word ‘experienced’ often refers to someone who’s gotten away with doing the wrong thing more frequently than you have.
The first thing that people do when they are scared or stressed, they back off and find a means to distract themselves from the problem. Sometimes it is a good thing to help calm your emotions when you feel overwhelmed. Just do not over do it. The problem will still be there when you come back to reality. And then what? A person who is resilient knows that if they remain busy, it not only gets them closer to their goal but it is also the smartest way to remain calm.
Make It Interesting
Shit happens, and if we just want to restrict ourselves to things where shit can’t happen… we’re not going to do anything very interesting.
Learn from your mistakes. Learn something new to improve yourself. Learn a new habit or skill that will help you to take another step closer to your goal. Make it into a pattern that is right for you because this will help you achieve your goals. The right pattern is a core ingredient in the success of life and the accomplishment of what you strive for.
Celebrate Small Wins
The maddening thing for someone with a Western scientific turn of mind is that it’s not what’s in your pack that separates the quick from the dead. It’s not even what’s in your mind. Corny as it sounds, it’s what’s in your heart.
This one is very important. I have to remind myself sometimes. Resilient people celebrate their little successes, no matter how small. All this means is you are just one step closer. You overcame that obstacle. You climbed over that wall; you opened a new door.
This step is so important because it creates a feeling of motivation and that ugly feeling of hopelessness is pushed further and further away from you. It provides a moment of relief from all the stress and the pain. It creates a sense of self-empowerment that you have succeeded and that you have now become a survivor. That is what makes you stand out from the rest of the world. That is what makes you, You!
Check out Laurence Gonzales’ book Deep survival. I really enjoyed reading it and anybody can benefit from this book to build up resilience in your life.