Being resilient is a corner stone of mental toughness. Being able to successfully manage the relentless waves of distractions and obstacles, as well as bouncing back from the inevitable setbacks and failures, creates a firmer foundation on which to build more positive outcomes. I am constantly in awe of people who demonstrate daily resilience and look for articles and posts that provide reassurance and advice.
I was interested to read a piece by Meg Jay, clinical psychologist and Associate Professor of Education at the University of Virginia, who challenges the notion of ‘bouncing back’ from adversity.
“People do not feel understood when someone says, ‘Wow, you really bounced back from that.’ They don’t feel seen in all of their complexity, in terms of how hard it can be,’” she says. Instead, Jay likes to describe resilience as a heroic struggle. “It’s really a battle, not a bounce,” she says — “an ongoing process that can last for years”.
I have distilled her advice to produce my top 5 takeaways from her post.
- First, recognize that your struggle is valid, no matter what you’re struggling with.
Don’t be ashamed of what makes you stressed. “A lot of people say, ‘Well, I wasn’t in a war…’ They have to learn what the most common adversities are and see those as being legitimate chronic stressors.”
- Then realize the ways you’re already resilient.
“You may not have alcoholism or drug abuse in your home, but I’m guessing you’ve been through something. Think about, ‘what were the three toughest times in my life? How did I get through those things?’ You probably already know something about being resilient.”
- Don’t wait for the situation to fix itself.
“Resilient people tend to be active copers. They say, ‘What am I going to do about this?’ versus, ‘When will I be released from this?’ It may not be solved overnight, but every problem can be approached somehow.”
- Know your strengths and use them.
“In general, resilient people tend to use the strengths they have. For different people, those are different. Some people have a great personality. For other people, it’s smarts or some sort of talent or a real work ethic. They use that to grab onto, to get through whatever’s in front of them.”
- Find your favorite way to take a mental break.
“Many people use fantasy or books, or dive into their hobbies, or hang out with their friends to take a mental break from a situation that they cannot solve overnight. You may not be able to fix that problem, but you can protect yourself from feeling overwhelmed by it. As an adult, you can do the same: read a book, pick up your Frisbee, hang out with your friends, turn off the news alerts on your phone. There’s a lot in the world right now that feels overwhelming. Resilient [people] fight back where they can, but they also learn to take a mental break.”
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