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3 steps to bouncing back from failure fast

May 28, 2020
failure to success

We all know (at least in theory) that success isn’t linear and that no matter what you set your mind to achieving in life, the wise approach is always to focus on progress over perfection, no matter how slow or tedious it may feel. But still we can’t help but feel disappointed and deflated when we hit a setback along the path to achieving a goal. Those feelings of disappointment and the perception that you’ve somehow ‘failed’ can send you into a negative spiral that will turn a momentary setback into a total unravelling, so that if you’re not careful, you could lose all the momentum you’ve been creating.

Achieving anything, whether it’s finishing a degree, writing a book, running a marathon or even your first 5km requires you to face those challenges head on and to persevere even when things don’t go to plan. Being able to manage your emotions and quickly take action to get yourself back on track is the key to moving forward and getting to where you’re going faster. 

If you’re someone who struggles to pick yourself up when you hit a hurdle, you might want to try some of these strategies for bouncing back from failure:

Be a realist, not an idealist

In an ideal world, you’d decide on a goal, set a course of action and stay completely committed and motivated throughout the entire process, only pausing to bask in the glory of your achievements as you check off each milestone on your unobstructed path to success.

What a completely (ridiculously!) unlikely scenario that is, so why is it that we’re so surprised and disappointed when we don’t achieve these perfect results first time, every time? The more you’re able to set realistic expectations about real life issues getting in the way, inevitable slumps in motivation and all of your human imperfections, the less likely you are to wallow in feelings of self-doubt and defeat when those issues crop up. Even the world’s most successful people will go off track and get back on track many, many times.

It’s not the going off track that determines your outcome, but how quickly you’re able to course-correct. Click To Tweet

Be kind, not critical

We typically default to harsh self-criticism when we fail to live up to our own expectations (again, check those expectations!)

It might help to understand that this is part of the human condition so you’re not the only one who gets down on yourself. But ALSO understand that you can choose to not do it. Beating yourself up activates your own stress response. In other words, it makes you feel worse and will absolutely not motivate or inspire you to do better. Trust me, there’s plenty of research on this. People who acknowledge their struggles with kindness and who treat themselves with the same compassion they’d offer to a friend are far more likely to recover from disappointment and keep moving forward. So when you hear your inner critic slinging all the usual insults, tell it to pipe down and create a bit of inner cheerleader instead.

Remember the magic of micro-actions

Probably the most important thing you can do to get back on track fast is to take one, teeny tiny step back in the direction of what you want to achieve. The longer you stay stuck, the worse you feel and the more effort it takes to get going again. But when you take even the smallest action that reinforces your intention to keep going, your brain will reward you with all sorts of feel good hormones that will give you the boost you need to take one more micro step. The magic of micro-actions is that they are small enough to feel effortless, but they add up to a chain of actions that take you right back to where you want to be.

So… in the spirit of taking the theory and turning it into action – what’s one thing you can do today that will take you closer to achieving something that’s important to you?

Cass Dunn XO signature

P.S. If you know you fall into the ‘All of Nothing’ trap, you might want to check out my YouTube video on how to overcome perfectionism!

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How to nurture your creativity (and why you should)

June 17, 2019
creativity

Are you one of those people who believes you don’t have a creative bone in your body? Do you envy those talented souls who can paint or sculpt or write compelling fiction? Perhaps you remember being creative as a child and somewhere along the way, you’ve lost touch with your creative side as the serious business of adulthood has taken over all your available time and attention.

The truth is we are all creative in our own ways and making an effort to tap into that creativity can be profoundly beneficial to your success and happiness, no matter what you do for a living. Creativity is about expanding your thinking to include intuitive and abstract ideas, making connections between seemingly disparate topics and coming up with new solutions to challenging problems.

If you work in an environment where things are done just because ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’, creativity can mean coming up with new, more effective approaches. Innovation (necessary for business success) is entirely about new, creative thoughts, ideas and processes. It’s not just about making art. If you find yourself struggling with creative inspiration, you might try giving your logical left brain a break by incorporating some of these habits into your routine to help you tap into the well of creativity that exists inside you:

1.    Be quiet

Spending time in silence is a proven way to enhance creativity because normally the endless chatter in your busy mind drowns out the voice of inner wisdom and intuition. When you turn the volume down on all that noise – whether through a formal practice like meditation or perhaps just by going for a walk in nature without your phone – often new insights and ideas emerge without any effort from you at all. The more regularly you take time out to be quiet, the more space you allow for those creative ideas to bubble up into your consciousness.

2.    Play

Hobbies are designed to be fun and non-competitive. When you take the focus away from striving and achievement and do something with a focus on play instead of work, you break out of the perfectionist mindset that normally stifles your creative potential. You might decide to learn a language or take up macramé or pottery. Playing board games, charades or Pictionary are great ways to tip into a fun and playful side of yourself that is normally locked away. As much as possible, try to be non-competitive and do it purely for fun.

3.    Take yourself on a date

In her bestselling book, “The Artist’s Way”, Julia Cameron recommends spending two hours every week in your own company doing something you love. It might be a visit to a gallery, a walk on the beach or going to breakfast or the movies. The point is to allow yourself time to wander and simply reconnect with yourself, to get to know yourself with the same kind of curious interest and attention you might have for someone you’ve just met for the first time. This is a great way of befriending yourself and cultivating the kind of self-acceptance and self-worth that is essential for taking creative risks.

4.    Create a vision board

Lots of people recommend creating a vision board as a way of bringing to life the dreams and goals you have for your life. The idea is to find words and images from magazines or the internet that resonate with you and inspire you dream bigger about what’s possible for you. The act of cutting, glueing and pinning is a really fun way of connecting to your inner four-year old. The digital version is to use Pinterest to pin the images and quotes but I quite like the tactile process for engaging all of your senses.

5.    Read for fun

If your reading material normally consists entirely of industry journals and text books, make time to read fiction. Escaping into a fantasy world unlocks closed doors in your mind and introduces new, different, exciting landscapes. The break away from your own reality means you re-emerge with a clearer mind and a new perspective.

Ultimately, tapping into and expressing creativity requires the willingness to make space in your mind and your life for unstructured activities, and then to be prepared to take a risk in sharing ideas. Giving yourself permission to be wrong, to lighten up and let go is a great place to start.

Cass Dunn signature - Black

Read next article: Is forgiveness the key to your inner peace?

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How to break a habit (and create new ones!)

August 21, 2017
how to break a bad habit

As much as 40-45% of what we do every day is done out of habit. It’s a bit scary just how much of our lives happen on auto-pilot, but it also makes perfect sense when you consider how much time and energy we would waste if we had to decide every day what to do, when and how to do it. With repetition, our brain develops a ‘shortcut’ so that we no longer have to think consciously about what we’re doing, and our thinking mind is freed up to focus on other more important things. Perfect!

Unless, of course, some of those habits aren’t very good for you and you’d prefer to break them or replace them with a healthier habit.

From studying the neuroscience of habits, we know that every behaviour has a ‘cue’ or a trigger that instigates it, and is followed by a reward. Rewards give us a strong hit of dopamine (that’s the feel good neurotransmitter in our brains), so that after a while just thinking about the behaviour triggers the release of dopamine.  This means that the first few times you do something, it might very well be a conscious decision; but after only a few occurrences, that combination of trigger, behaviour and reward becomes quite automatic and is instigated by a part of your brain that has nothing to do with conscious choice. With these processes going out outside of our conscious awareness, unhelpful habits can seem impossible to break.

This is why, when it comes to breaking  a habit, it’s not enough to just focus on the behaviour itself but to look at all three factors in combination. Here are five tips to help you over-ride your impulses and establish healthy habits instead.

1. Practise mindfulness

Being mindful is like pressing a pause button between the stimulus (the craving you feel or the urge to do something) and the response (i.e., your habitual behaviour). This gives you a moment to consider a different response when you are hit with that craving. We psychologists use the term ‘surfing the urge’ to describe how mindfulness can help you ‘ride out’ those strong sensations in your body without giving in to them.

2. Identify your triggers

The trigger for your craving might be a time of day, particular places, people, emotions or even other behaviours that become paired together (such as having a cigarette every time you have a coffee). It can be helpful to keep a log of every time you experience the urge or the habit you’re trying to break. You should fairly quickly identify a pattern and know what your cues or triggers are.

3. Choose a new reward

Once you know the trigger, it’s important to also get clear on the specifics of your rewards. If your habit is to have a sweet snack at 3pm, the reward might be the quick energy boost or satisfying your hunger or alleviating boredom. Sometimes part of the reward is social connection (gathering in the tea room at work). Once you know that your reward is, you can find other activities that will help you to achieve it that don’t involve engaging in your bad habit.

4. Use repetition to your advantage

Just as your old habit started off as a conscious choice and quickly became unconscious, by repeating your new preferred activity every time you experience your trigger, the new behaviour will also start to become automatic. Eventually the new pattern will become habitual and the old associations will be suppressed.

5. Remember – progress not perfection!

Habits aren’t formed overnight, nor are they broken so easily. If you expect immediate success, any slip-up can feel like a failure and send you straight back to square one. By forgiving yourself for slip-ups, you’re more likely to get back on track quickly and eventually ditch those bad habits for good.

Cass Dunn signature - Black

This article was first published inside the member community at www.tiffxo.com

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Is it time to get out of your comfort zone?

August 14, 2017
life begins at the end of your comfort zone

We humans tend to be creatures of comfort. Familiarity and order gives us a sense of security and we feel most at ease when there is minimal stress or uncertainty in our environment. This is the psychological definition of our comfort zone and we all quite like to hang out there.

The problem is that if we never step outside of that zone and open ourselves to risks and uncertainty, we miss important opportunities to learn and grow.

Stretching yourself to achieve new goals requires you to be willing to get a little bit uncomfortable. A healthy level of stress that pushes you forward in a positive way is called ‘optimal stress’. Too much novelty or challenge can be overwhelming and have a negative effect so it’s important to not compare yourself to others when deciding what is going to push you slightly out of your comfort zone. One of the benefits of pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone is that gradually that zone will expand so that you’re more comfortable with new experiences.

As children, we are constantly learning new things and tend to be more open to taking risks. As we get older, we prefer to stick with what we know and our comfort zone will shrink as we get older if we don’t keep pushing those boundaries. Fear of failure or of being embarrassed or feeling incompetent can be paralysing but the only way to achieve what you’re really capable of is to learn to tolerate some of that discomfort and not let it get in the way of what’s most important to you.

If you’re a person who tends to stay inside your comfort zone, here are some ways you might challenge yourself to get a little bold and push those boundaries outward:

Do something different

Look at your own life and the things you do routinely and out of habit and resolve to shake things up a bit. It could be anything from trying a new food, going to a different restaurant or driving a different way to work. If you want to push yourself further, learning a language, applying for a new job, joining a club or volunteering for an organisation are great ways to challenge yourself to try something new. Not only do novel experiences make you happy but they might even improve your learning and memory.

Step out of your comfort zone
Image via CanstockPhoto / PixelsAway

Set more challenging goals

We’re motivated to work harder towards goals when they push us a little beyond what we think we’re capable of. Of course, there’s something to be said for making goals realistic (that’s the R in S.M.A.R.T. goals!) but all too often we tend to sell ourselves short or put limits on what we think we’re capable of. Whatever you think you’d like to work towards, just ask yourself whether you might be able to increase it a little. Trust your gut on this one. It should feel a little bit exciting and slightly anxiety provoking but not ridiculous or impossible.

Take small steps

Remember that going too far outside of your comfort zone can create an unhealthy level of stress and actually hinder your opportunity for growth or performance, so start small. If you want to develop more assertiveness, start by speaking up with your partner or your kids before you tackle that difficult conversation with your boss (for example). If you want to be more social, start by smiling and making eye contact before you venture into striking up a conversation with a stranger. Take it slowly but keep pushing yourself to get a little uncomfortable.

The most important thing to remember is that what is challenging for you will be very different to anyone else so let go of the tendency to compare to anyone else when setting yourself the challenge to get out of your comfort zone.

And after you’ve challenged yourself, give yourself a high five and come back to your comfort zone where you can process your experience before you pluck up the courage to venture out again.

Cass Dunn signature - Black

This article was first published inside the member community at www.tiffxo.com

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Love yourself: You are enough

August 7, 2017
Love yourself

“You are enough”.

It’s a simple enough statement but for many of us, it bears no ring of truth. It always feels like there is more to do, more to become, more to achieve, and more to improve upon before we will feel ok about ourselves.

The reality of feeling that we are not doing enough, being enough, or have enough is that we are engaged in a constant struggle to improve upon who or what we are, pushing ourselves to burnout, moulding ourselves to fit others’ expectations, working harder to prove our worth, and perhaps even attempting to compensate with our outward appearance for what we feel we are intrinsically lacking. If we can just look like we have it all together maybe nobody will realise how flawed we really are.

The truth is that happiness is not found in doing or being more, but in finally learning to be at peace with who you are right now. This doesn’t mean that your efforts to improve yourself should stop; indeed, there is great satisfaction to be found in striving towards meaningful goals. But it does mean that your sense of self-worth should no longer be measured by any external metric – not your body shape, your income level, your spiritual practice, parenting expertise, or how clean your floors are.  It also means being completely comfortable with your lifestyle choices, opinions, personality traits, and your perceived flaws.

There is a Buddhist saying I love which is, “Beware the subtle aggression of self-improvement.” In other words, be careful that your striving towards goals is not driven by a core belief that you are inherently unworthy of love or happiness just as you are right now.

If self-acceptance is difficult for you, trust me – you are not alone! But if there is any goal worth striving towards it is to increase your capacity to love and approve of yourself exactly as you are right now.

Here are a few suggestions that might help you to slowly let go of the idea that you need to be better and accept that are whole and worthy just as you are:

  • Catch yourself every time you notice you are placing conditions on your approval of yourself. Beware thoughts like “If I could just fix X problem, I’d feel really great about myself” or “When I finally master Y, I’ll be happy.” Also notice how frequently you shy away from expressing a different opinion to others’ or try to mould yourself to fit in with a crowd. Simply notice. The act of increasing your own awareness of the subtle ways you communicate messages of disapproval to yourself is the first step towards letting those ideas go.
  • Forgive yourself. Maybe use a journal or write a letter to yourself forgiving yourself for past mistakes or current shortcomings. Express to yourself the unconditional positive regard you would to a child or loved one. Acknowledge and validate your strengths and your positive intentions even if you have occasionally made poor choices. Let it go.
  • Take a self-discovery tour. Perhaps take a strengths test online, survey your friends about what they perceive your best and worst qualities are (remember they love you anyway!) or study your personal horoscope. Dig deep into what makes you tick and start to embrace the uniqueness that is you. The more you own your particular quirks and character traits, the more you can feel free to show up in life as the real, authentic you – and therein lies true happiness.
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This article was first published inside the member community at www.tiffxo.com

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Simple tips to manage stress

July 31, 2017
how to manage stress

Stress! We’ve all experienced it, sometimes as a short, sharp burst like when you’re rushing to meet a deadline; and sometimes for a longer period, like when your workplace is perpetually understaffed or you’re supporting a sick relative.

Stress is an inevitable part of life and that’s ok because sometimes it’s what motivates us to get things done. But chronic, unrelenting stress can have negative consequences for your physical and mental health.

Stress or anxiety causes your body to release hormones that have the effect of preparing you for ‘fight or flight’. This means your heart rate and blood pressure increase, blood flows away from essential organs to your arms and legs, and “non-essential” physiological functions (such as reproduction and digestion) shut down. Chronic stress can cause headaches, stomach aches, digestive issues, weight gain, fatigue and insomnia.

In our cave-people days, our physiological stress response was handy for survival. These days, we are not so much in danger of being eaten, but we are constantly juggling commitments, dealing with complex relationships, worrying about finances and racing to meet deadlines.

In addition to the negative effects of too many stress hormones flooding your body, the coping strategies we use to manage stress – such as eating sugary foods or drinking alcohol – can also contribute to health problems. So how do we keep stress under control?

Here are some ideas that might be helpful:

Create a Not Do list

If you’re chronically busy and never getting to the end of your To Do list, perhaps it’s time to write a Not Do List and offload a bunch of ‘urgent but unimportant’ tasks. Realistically appraise your current commitments and obligations and delete anything that is creating undue stress in your life. Breathe a sigh of relief as you feel the weight lift.

Single task

We think we’re so clever with our multi-tasking but the truth is there is no such thing. What we are actually doing is switching between tasks and every time we do, it takes longer to re-focus our attention on what we were doing, wasting precious time and mental energy. It’s time to re-learn the lost art of ‘mono-tasking’ i.e., putting your full attention on one thing at a time. Turn off email notifications and put your phone away while you focus on getting that report written. Notice other ways you are splitting your attention and work hard to keep your mind on just one thing.

Nurture positive relationships

Social hostility is major cause of stress, whether it’s an argument with your spouse or a falling-out with a friend or colleague. Do what you can to let go of negative, toxic relationships and put your energy into nurturing positive connections with people who support you. Social support is a great buffer against stress. Make time to be with your people and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Change your self-talk

Sometimes your own self-talk adds more distress to an already stressful situation. Saying things to yourself like, “It’s too much. I’ll never get it done” causes a stress reaction in your body. Similarly self-criticism only adds to an already difficult situation. Try being a bit more positive and optimistic, e.g., “This too shall pass.”

Breathe!

Deep diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing) activates the parasympathetic nervous system and induces the relaxation response in your body which is a counter to the stress response. Take time out of your busy day to take full deep breaths and feel your body relax. You might go one better and incorporate daily mediation into your routine, as there is ample research to support its positive physical and emotional benefits, including reducing stress, anxiety and depression.        

Of course one of my favourite stress-busters is practising mindfulness and that’s why I created my 8-week online course Mindfulness for Busy People. If you’re keen to find out more or get on the waitlist to be first to hear when the doors open, you can do that HERE.

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Don’t let comparison steal your joy

November 29, 2016
comparison

It’s almost impossible not to notice how we’re doing relative to other people, whether in terms of our career success, financial position, relationship status or physical appearance. It’s so common, in fact, that psychologist Leon Festinger came up with the term ‘Social Comparison Theory’ back in 1954 to describe our human drive to gain an accurate self-evaluation by comparing ourselves to others.

This kind of social comparison can sometimes be useful: Making upward comparisons (comparing yourself with people doing better than you are) can encourage you to work harder towards your goals; and if you’re feeling down about some aspect of yourself or your life, downward comparisons (comparing with people who are less well off than you are) can give you a sense of perspective so that you feel better about your own situation.

Too much comparing isn’t good for anyone though. Back in Festinger’s day, we were probably only comparing ourselves to our immediate family, friends, neighbours and co-workers. These days, social media has made it possible for us to compare ourselves and our lives to hundreds of ‘friends’, strangers and even celebrities online.

Women, in particular, seem to be in more danger of being negatively affected by social comparison because of the media images we are continually exposed to of other women who are thin, beautiful and fabulously wealthy.  Those carefully edited and posed photos filling our Instagram feeds and the photoshopped magazine covers have made us feel that the ‘ideal’ is actually the norm, and so we judge ourselves more harshly by comparing ourselves with an impossible standard.

stop self comparison

It’s not just physical comparisons that make us feel we’re not measuring up. There are the professionally styled living rooms, spotless kitchen benches upon which are served organic, whole-food meals and daily green juices. Spouses are always smiling – never arguing. Children and pets are perfectly groomed and well behaved. Not to mention that everyone is having fun ALL THE TIME. The more you engage in upward comparison, the more likely you are to experience its negative consequences of envy, self-criticism and lower self-esteem.  If you find yourself falling into the trap of comparing yourself with others and feel like you’re coming up short, here are some tips to help you keep things in a little perspective:

Remember it’s your ‘behind the scenes’ vs. their ‘highlights reel’

When comparing, we are seeing an edited version of a person’s whole life but often we fail to take into consideration that this is really their ‘highlights reel’ and that everyone has their own stuff going on behind the scenes, regardless of outward appearances. Not that I’m suggesting we hope anyone else is secretly miserable (!) but we do want to remember our common humanity. What you see is a snapshot, not the whole picture.

Focus on what’s important

Social comparison frequently tends to focus on outward, observable features of a person’s life such as their financial status, physical appearance, career achievement or lifestyle.  There’s enough research now to support the fact these are not the things that bring us deep and lasting joy in life. A life that is lived with intention and purpose, good quality friendships, good health and the savouring of small pleasures are all the things that make life worthwhile but they’re usually not what you’re focusing on when engaging in social comparison. Remembering your own values and practising gratitude can help to move you out of the comparison trap.

Have an abundance mindset

If you’re feeling jealous about other people’s success, you can fall into the trap of being mean-spirited or stingy with your compliments. This happens when you start slipping into ‘scarcity’ thinking; which is the idea that there is a finite amount of success and happiness to go around like a pie with limited slices. It might help to remember that the pie is unlimited and that someone else’s success doesn’t take anything away from you. In fact, you can choose to see others’ success as evidence of what is possible for you if you keep working towards your goals!

Resolve to actively and enthusiastically express happiness for other people’s progress. It will make you feel good and the positive support and encouragement will be returned to you tenfold.

Finally, remember that no-one else has your unique biological make-up, lifestyle or personal history so it makes no sense whatsoever to compare yourself with anyone else. Run your own race and you’ll always be a winner.

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Three steps to upgrading your self-belief

November 22, 2016
self-belief

From our earliest years, we start forming beliefs about who we are and what we’re capable of. We get these ideas through feedback from our family (maybe you were the smart one or the funny one, but not the sporty one) and then from our teachers and peers at school. We form beliefs not just based on what we’re told but on what we observe in the world around us.

Then we navigate our way through life carrying around a whole lot of ideas about what is possible for us, and make decisions based on those ideas without ever really checking in to see whether they’re true!

If you grew up with the idea that you were clever but not sporty, for example, you probably avoided trying out for team sports. And if you avoid sports, you never give yourself the opportunity to challenge that old belief so it stays put and becomes true for you. Vicious circle, right?!

Depending on what those beliefs are, they can seriously handbrake your ability to make progress on important goals.

The good news is that once you become aware that you have old beliefs or programs influencing your expectations of yourself and the actions you take in life, you can absolutely make a decision to do something about that because those stories do NOT necessarily have to be true.

Here are three steps to upgrading your self-belief and getting different results in life

1. Name the story

The first step to change is always awareness. Do a bit of a mental excavation and see if you can find ideas or beliefs (about yourself, your capabilities, your self-worth or what you think you deserve) that might be holding you back. Notice the things you regularly think (e.g., “I never finish what I start” or “I have no willpower”) and write them down.

2. Find and replace

Now you want to swap out some of those old limiting ideas and replace them with something more empowering. This is where some people have difficulty because if those old stories have been reinforced through years worth of your own behaviour, it can be hard to let go of them. The best way to do this is to swap out a disempowering belief such as “I’m an emotional eater” with a thought of possibility such as “I’m capable of learning new strategies to manage my emotions”. We’re not talking about chanting empty affirmations here, but planting new seeds of possibility in your mind, which you can strengthen with your behaviour.

3. Act as if it were true

Take one of these new thoughts of possibility and ask yourself how you would behave if it were true for you. If you really believed you were capable of supreme health and fitness, what actions might you take each day? If you believed you were deserving of love and respect, what would you no longer tolerate? If you believed you are as entitled as anyone to achieve all the success you hope for, how would your behaviour reflect that? Start doing those actions and before you know it, you’ll be building new experiences and evidence to support your new, upgraded self-belief.

I’d love for you to come over and join my free facebook community and share any insights you’ve gained about your self-belief so we can start working on your upgraded view of yourself and what you’re capable of!

 “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right”.

Henry Ford
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Bouncing back: How to build resilience

June 1, 2016
resilience

Why is it that when life deals one of its inevitable blows, some people are able to bounce back to their old happy self in no time at all (or maybe even better than their old self, because they’ve amazingly managed to glean some pearl of wisdom from their adversity) while others are completely flattened by it? The difference lies in that ineffable quality we call resilience. It’s something we want to instil in our kids so they can deal with the rejections and disappointments of life, and even as adults we could all benefit from this kind of psychological fortitude. If you find it extra hard to recover from emotional struggles – whether they be relationship difficulties, grief and loss, financial or work stress – you might wonder if it’s possible to increase your own level of resilience. Is it like a muscle we can strengthen and grow by our own efforts? The good news is that there are many known factors that contribute to strong psychological resilience, and it is most certainly within your power to do something proactive if you feel you could use some help in this area.

  • Having warm, supportive relationships creates an emotional safety net where we can land safely and take time to recover from our wounds. If you’re in emotional pain, having someone to confide in can make all the difference to how quickly you recover.
  • Resilient people tend to have an optimistic way of explaining the bad things that happen in life. Specifically I’m talking about the 3 Ps of Personalisation, Pervasiveness and Permanence. An optimist tends to say things like “These things happen to all of us” (non-personal); “It’s only this one area of my life that is affected” (non-pervasive); and “This too shall pass.” (non-permanent).  If you tend to have the more pessimistic explanatory style of “It’s all my fault. My whole life is ruined. I don’t know if I can ever recover from this”, you might benefit from considering the three P’s and re-working your self-talk.
  • Being able to manage your emotions in a healthy way is an important skill. A great many people fear that if they allow themselves to experience the full force of their emotions they will be completely overwhelmed, so instead they actively avoid or suppress their feelings. Learning and practising mindfulness can help you to open up and experience your own suffering in a healthy, balanced way so that you can process your experience and move on.
  • Self-compassion is about being kind to yourself in times of difficulty or perceived inadequacy (i.e., when you stuff something up). Launching into painful self-criticism when things go wrong is most people’s default reaction but this only adds insult to injury when things are already tough. Practising self-compassion is a proven buffer against depression.

We’re all different and what works for one person might not work for another so I’d suggest looking for opportunities to try out various strategies and finding your own formula for resilience building. And remember that just as you don’t build a bicep with one gym visit, cultivating resilience should be an ongoing process.

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RE-OPENING IN 2022

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