The idea of resilience is like experience – you only get it right after you need it!
I believe we can practice resilience, make it an art, flex it like a muscle, grow it from an idea into reality. Practice.
Like anything, practice takes time. A small part each day allocated to focusing on being resilient, just like you might be focused on what you eat, what you are doing, what you are planning. We take time out to focus on goals, to say affirmations; it is not such a reach that you might spend a similar portion of time to focus on resilience.
How to build it in practice? Take something that is annoying you and break it down. Why, who, what? Get honest with yourself and your reactions. Are they a result of the action that was taken, or the person who undertook the action? Are your emotions mixed because it reminded you of something in your past, or because your beliefs were challenged? Are you affronted or are you annoyed? Getting really clear on what has challenged you can then allow you to explore the why of it – why has it gotten under your skin?
Do you need to speak up and let the other person know of the result of their actions, or do you need to take responsibility for your reaction and clean up your own thoughts? Do you need to let it go because it is allowing another person to control who you are being in that moment?
An example of this is the classic road rage scenario. Someone cut you off while driving to work. You are focused, already thinking about the day and then suddenly you are confronted by rude behaviour which snaps you out of your thoughts, your focus on your life. How rude! How dare they? Who do they think they are? All of a sudden we are focused on them and what they did, and we are allowing it to impact our day. We might carry that annoyance into the workplace, creating a ripple effect of crankiness that is passed around like a plate of stale donuts at morning tea time. We might snap at our employees because we are cranky at what happened on the way to work and haven’t yet let it go. We might decide to answer the phone with less than our smiling voice and pass it onto the customer we are supposed to assist.
Or, we might decide to practice resilience and let it go. Release the anger and not allow another person’s actions to impact who we are, and who we are being in that moment. We might say a few choice words about their behaviour and then forget about them. Let the impact of their intrusion into your day become meaningless and irrelevant to the big picture of your life. We might laugh and feel superior and think that we are better than them as a careful and considerate driver. We might choose to get back to focussing on our lives and the outcomes we are striving for and forget about the rude person who briefly crossed our awareness.
We might do this as a daily practice and call it resilience training. We might find other examples, the rude customer service person (who may have also had some road rage that morning!), the abrupt waitperson, the screaming child, the mumbling co-worker… Where else can you practice the letting go of the things?
Because, once you start practising, paying attention and being present with the art of resilience, you might find many things that you can let go. You might also find more time in your day to focus on positive things once you are not consumed with the negative.
You might discover you have a great deal of resilience to apply to the life you are living after all!
Then, when something big hits your life, an illness, a family member affected, a career change unsought, a crisis of large proportions; we might just find we have time enough and the resilience that we have been practising, is no longer just practice, but very real.