By Stephenie Craig, LCSW
You wake up, the sun is shining, the water is beautiful, you’re feeling good about work, you love the people in your life, your favorite song is playing, things are going your way, you’re in the zone. Suddenly you’re blind-sided when someone lets you down, an unexpected expense occurs, someone gets ill, you experience the consequences of a poor decision you made, and the world is not cooperating with your life agenda. When life veers off the desired course, one of two things usually happens. Either you get stuck and say, “Why me, why is the world always against me?” You focus on the disappointment, think something is wrong with you, blame others, believe you’re powerless, and hopelessness sets in. Or, over time you bounce back and say, “Hard things happen to everyone and with help, I can endure hard things and grow.” So, what makes the difference between getting stuck and bouncing back? How do you cultivate more resilient bounciness in your soul?
10 Practices for Cultivating Resilience and a Bouncier Life
- Accept suffering as a normal part of life. While life would be tidier if good things happened to good people and bad things happened to bad people, this isn’t our lived reality. Life eventually brings suffering to all in various ways. Enjoy when life is going your way and expect that sometimes it will get hard, you will make mistakes, and there will be pain not because anyone is out to get you but because you’re imperfectly human.
- Embrace spirituality. Connection to God and others reminds you that you aren’t alone and frames a sense of meaning and community when life gets difficult. Spiritual practice also has strong connections with experiencing a sense of love, meaning, and hope in both light and dark times.
- Ask for help. Vulnerably admitting your struggle and asking for support reveals to you that people you care about truly see you and value you for you, not for having it all together. Being seen and supported in this way creates deeper, more trusting relationships over time.
- Reject the shame story. Making mistakes, struggling with baggage, or having life hardship does not mean something is wrong with you. It simply means you’re human and humans are messy. Remind yourself that everyone you know, including the ones who seem so polished, struggle.
- Embrace uncomfortable feelings as normal and temporary. You are wired to have uncomfortable feelings like sadness, fear, humiliation, and rejection when life gets hard. These feelings are red flags inviting you to pay attention to what is happening inside and around you. All feelings are temporary. Though in the midst of hard feelings, you fear you’ll never feel better again, you will get to the other side. Remind yourself you’ve never had a feeling that lasted forever.
- Reach for healthy coping skills. Everyone has big feelings. You are not your feelings. Coping and calming skills like mindfulness give you some distance between your feelings and your sense of self. You can feel rejected without being a reject. The rejection can just be a feeling you’re experiencing to help you pay attention to a relationship or an interaction. It doesn’t have to define you.
- Embrace your agency. Believe and remind yourself that you have the ability to make decisions, seek help, connect spiritually, and take meaningful action in a positive direction in your life. You aren’t powerless and you don’t have to live believing you’re a victim to others or your circumstances without hope.
- Sort responsibility and control. Notice what is out of your control, accept it, and stop wasting your energy trying to control it. Notice what is within your healthy self-control, accept it, and take healthy responsibility where you need to change direction.
- Remember your history of enduring hard things. Keep a list of hard times you’ve survived, what you learned, how you experienced growth. Return to your list as an encouraging reminder that with connection and support, you can do hard things again.
- Embrace the lessons life brings. Try to avoid blaming others and resisting life’s lessons. They are inevitable and most often bring wisdom. Accept the lesson with an open heart and incorporate the wisdom into daily life and relationships.
Be kind to yourself and others remembering that judgement creates feeling stuck not resilience. As you graciously evaluate your life bounce, remember there is no arrival in life, only ongoing journey and growth. As you need support along your journey, connect with us at journeybravely.com.