This past week, I received three inquiries about “resilience”. Time for me to organize my notes, as I get ready to finish my new book: Resilience: Using Your Emotional Intelligence to Turn Adversity Into Value. Thus this blog as a primer.
How will you be changed by difficult times/disappointment/adversity? Will the changes in you be intentional or random behavioral reactions with little sustainable merit? Will you use the experience to further discover your uniqueness, strengthen resolve, reveal and use untapped potential, forge new relationships and design dreams and turn them into reality?
The following 8.12 tips will allow you to use difficult times as stepping-stones for growth and greatness. Your organization, your family and you, may need you to demonstrate the greatness you have within you during times of challenge.
Raising your Emotional Intelligence to prepare for times of anger, pressure, stress and disappointments is about the most productive thing you can do. Those with high EI act with clarity of intent, authenticity, decisiveness and appropriate compassion while simultaneously bringing personal meaning into all of their life’s events. They resist the impulse to respond impulsively without first having accurate awareness of the information that comes to them from their emotions and their intellect. The following tips enable us to access our EI.
1. Feel Your Feelings Through.
Understand what your experience really is. When dealing with an adversity, emotions come into play. Usually these emotions include: shock, anger, disbelief, jealousy, sadness and loss. You may feel victimized, incapacitated, and even stupid. Listen to what is going on inside of you. Be brutally honest with yourself. Write down your emotions. What is behind them? Usually fear. Give the fear a name. Now you can face it, versus suppressing it and being emotionally reactive. Once you name your fear and feel it through you will start to gain perspective, strength and the courage to deal with it.
2. Choose Your Frame of Reference
Your subconscious mind is extremely powerful so be careful of what you feed it. We tend to exaggerate the negative. You may assume a weight to be 50 pounds when it may only be 5 pounds. You feel defeated and de-energized before you even start to act. If your self-talk is consistently negative you could live as a helpless victim. Choose where to put your thoughts. You attract toward you and become that which you think about. Keep your self-esteem, holding yourself in good regard despite “unfairness” and imperfections.
3. Regain Control
During tough times you often do not have to like what you do – but you know you have to do it. Now is the time for you to prove yourself to you and to others. Remember that we teach others how to treat us based upon how we respect and respond to ourselves. A basic human driver is the need for autonomy. However when dealing with difficulties we often tend to blame others and this leads to a lack of autonomy/control because we cannot control them! Rather face that this is current reality and that you will assume self-responsibility and control. Get clear about what you want and need to do to get it and then take one, just one responsible action each day. You only need to have self-discipline for a few minutes to accomplish a forward action or thought. Or to resist the temptation to wallow and feel helpless…. just have self-discipline for three minutes at a time!! Then the next three minutes. This is not overwhelming. Never make a major decision when you are out of control.
Invest in your life – not consumerism, not multiple scattered activities. Determine what is really important to you and “spend” on those values only. When you simplify, life is less complicated and gives you an opportunity to build your courage. Let go of the things that clutter, exhaust and complicate your life.
You have the right to be happy. Lead a healthy life by investing in the right foods, exercise, sleep and relationships. Tough times often are the wake-up call to start taking care of yourself. Times of change are exactly the times when you need to eat properly to maintain a good energy level, sleep to quiet your thoughts, have some solitude to provide centeredness and nourish your mind, exercise to get clear perspective and seek support from people who care for you.
6. Focus on Your Priorities
Return to the basics. Write down your values. Keep the list of your values in a place where you can quickly review them daily. Each night before you go to sleep write down your priorities for the next day and do not deviate. Focus. Focus. Focus. With clear focus you will have freedom to think and choose your actions in a guided manner. Have unwavering commitment, diligence and discipline for your defined focus. Focus is the key for success. You cannot eliminate difficulties but you can focus on what you are certain about. Clear focus will absolutely energize you. Do not let other people or events chose the road you will take. To transform yourself as a result of adversity – focus on a single purpose.
Help others. Do something good for someone else. It is not all about you…others are facing adversity too and you have the resources to help them have perspective. Engage in those random acts of kindness.
8. Practice Resilience
- Keep a journal of your strengths and refer to it often.
- Act as your own coach. What would you advise someone in your situation to do?
- Visualize past the difficult time…see over the mountain. Feel what it is like to have made the successful climb and reached the top.
- Write “it” down and then break “it” into small, manageable pieces. Act on a piece each day.
- Ask yourself: What is the worst thing that could happen?
- Ask yourself: What is one thing I can do about it?
- Ask yourself: What is the lesson I can take from this?
- Remember, this is only temporary, even though temporary may be an extended time.
- Delay gratification.
- Do not aim for perfection, a perfect resolution. Aim for focused, attainable action.
- Do not let a day go by without seeing something beautiful.
- Believe in yourself. Have hope based upon purpose. When you have clear purpose you have peace, passion, power, perspective and can use your potential to persist, persevere and perform.