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We Don’t Need a Lot of Self-Help Books, We Need Resilience

We Don’t Need a Lot of Self-Help Books, We Need Resilience

Have you ever noticed that some people are just really good at bouncing back? They roll with the punches life throws them with almost effortless ease. For years, I wondered what their secret was.

I’ve gone to hypnotherapists, looked into Buddhism, read through a frankly weird amount of self-help books (I think the people at my local library are a little concerned), all to little avail. I wondered if these people were unusually tough? Perhaps even unusually uncaring?

No, in the end these people who stand against adversity have resilience, nothing more.

The good news is, resilience can be learned and developed.

Surprisingly, there is no single agreed definition for resilience; however, in general resilience is that X factor that makes people keep going through adversity. To some degree, resiliency is a product of biological factors, or was formed in childhood when the brain was in development.[1]

A thirty year study followed 698 children for the first three decades of their lives.[2] During the study, particular attention was paid to reactions to trauma and stress. Two thirds came from comfortable, stable homes, and functioned generally okay.

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The other third were considered “at risk,” and had been exposed to unusual stress or difficulties in their home life. Two thirds of this group unfortunately grew up developing learning and behavioral issues. The remaining third, like the ones from safe, comfortable homes, grew up to be good, caring adults. They developed resilience.

The reasons for this were twofold:

  • Some of the “at risk” had access to a supportive caregiver who helped make sure they didn’t go through their problems alone.
  • Others were fiercely independent from a young age and went through their lives on their own terms.

Interestingly, some who initially weren’t resilient, later developed resiliency.

To develop resilience, you don’t really need to do the tough stuff.

So, what does it take to actually get some extra resilience? Well, here are four ways to build some up, and all of them involve finding peace in yourself.

1. Always look on the bright side, especially in stressful situations.

This is a key, underlining aspect to it all. It makes a lot of sense, because, for example, if someone were to react to a stressful event by thinking it was the worst thing in the world, it will seem as such. But were they to somehow remain positive, to see the silver lining in it, then it will seem less overwhelming, and as such they will be more resilient.

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So it is important to remain positive about the past, present and future.

In some of my experiments with Buddhism, I have been told that the world appears to us as we imagine it to be, and the real trauma is not the event itself, but our emotional reaction to the trauma (if you want the point backed up by Eastern spirituality).

2. Stay connected with someone supportive.

One unifying factor of the most resilient children in the study mentioned earlier is that they had a support structure. They had parents, guardians, or a teacher that had their back. Other reports and studies have suggested the same.[3]

All you need is someone who wants to see you succeed and is willing to help you do so. To children it can be a parent, guardian, or teacher. But for you, having a group of good friends is just as effective.

3. Do good to make people feel good.

Studies have shown that doing good increases production of Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, in the body.[4] Low levels of serotonin are often found in people suffering from depression.

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So, doing good makes you feel good.

Doing good can also help put things in perspective if you are faced with people who are suffering tougher challenges in their lives.

Some have also suggested making an effort to note when kindness is done to you, perhaps by creating a gratitude journal or blog.[5] People are more likely to remember when they have been mistreated, so having a reminder of the many times you have been treated well may help cancel out negativity.

4. Take very good care of yourself.

With this I don’t just mean keeping active and eating well (which can’t hurt), but paying attention to your mind. Stress can accumulate, which by extension can have a lasting impact on your mood and make you react severely to stressful situations, ultimately exacerbating them.[6]

A setback you might easily be able to take might knock you down if you already have a lot of stress in your life. To counter the effects of this cumulative stress, you should make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep and rest.

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Even when you are just relaxing, parts of your brain are working on overdrive, especially when stressed. Rest and sleep can counteract this.

Practicing all of the above could greatly improve your resilience and ability to stand tough against setbacks and trauma, as well as be better equipped to handle stress and feel good while doing so.

I’ll leave you with the last stanza of a poem: “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley.[7]

This poem was one that proved a great benefit to Nelson Mandela during his 25 years in prison, as well as me during much less inspiring stuff. The poem summarizes resilience in a nice way.

“It matters not how straight the gate
How charged with punishment the scroll
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul.”

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Arthur Peirce

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

That’s where we all should be.

So, answer me this:

How are you, really?

And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

It’s taking control.

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2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

Change will happen.

Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

“Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

“If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

What would you do if you felt you were enough?

By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

Final Thoughts

By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

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