So, someone gets sick
and needs you to hold them when you planned on doing something else.
Someone begged, pleaded and cajoled you into helping with something and now it is taking too much of your time and you are resenting it.
Your computer acts up, and while fixing the minor problem, you discover there is a serious issue that if you don’t do something about it soon, as in right now, you might lose everything (wish that was hypothetical but that was and still is me).
Resilience is about how to handle problems. Intelligence is about learning from the past and others, and avoiding a problem in the future (like a computer system crash).
Here are some hints on how to face an issue (becoming resilient) or avoid it becoming an issue (and not needing to use your newly strengthened resilience).
Failure is only the opportunity to begin again
We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.
~ Max DePree
Overwhelm is not having too much to do. We all have too much to do. Overwhelm is not knowing what to do next.
1. Brain dump, prioritize and focus. Feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed? Or scattered, frantic, yet accomplishing nothing? Both extremes are exhausting and keep us stuck. Yes, we have a lot to do. Everyone does. The difference between overwhelm and taking controlled action (behaving in a resilient manner), is to narrow down the options to a single action and do it. Nothing else for the time being.
2. Take one decisive action daily (less than a 3 minute commitment) towards getting something or becoming more. Schedule it. Want to become a better public speaker or more comfortable speaking up? For three minutes daily, read out loud from a book about an interest of yours. Imagine yourself on stage, addressing a crowd. Picture your audience. Learn to use inflection, passion and pauses. The act of speaking with the intention of being in front of others will reduce the strangeness when called upon to speak up for yourself.
Think a small action doesn’t matter? Think again. A daily 1% improvement over the previous day will mean a doubling by day 72 due to the magic of compounding. Compounding works for life, not just money. Small, continuous improvement. Often called Kaizen.
3. Stay busy. Momentum! It is easier to take action when already in action. Getting stuck in self-pity or feeling a lack of control can make it difficult to more forward. Small action is still action.
4. Help others. According to the Dali Lama, the best way for each of us to feel good and move forward in our lives is to help others.
5. Intentional procrastination. Does the stressor or event need to be addressed immediately? If not, give it a bit of time. Breathe deep. Acknowledge: this too shall pass. Very few things are life and death. Then designate a time when you will give it your full attention and decide if you will do anything about it.
*I picked public speaking since that is a fear of many.
6. Biographies. Learn about the hardships of others and what they did to overcome difficulties. Does it give you any ideas of actions you can take or mindsets you can develop? Make you realize that everyone goes through difficulties and heartache?
7. Successful people fail – a lot. Failure is part of success. Winston Churchill defined success (and it could also be called resilience) as “. . . going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Now, I don’t think he meant to blindly take action but to have a bigger goal and start moving towards it. Things won’t always go as expected. Evaluate and keep moving forward.
8. Celebrate successes. Often we worry and focus on our hardships. Our successes are treated with a quick mental checkmark and forgotten. We need to ‘train our brain’ to remember what we have done and can do. Be comfortable with success. Take time to bask in your own glory.
9. Visualize. The body reacts to what the brain perceives. Visualize a new action. Picture it. Can you add any smells, tactile input, sounds, and most importantly, emotions? The more information you add, the more real it is to your brain and the easier it will be to create it in real life.
10. Self-creation. So many people get caught up in trying to discover ‘Who am I?’ Instead, ask yourself, “Who do I want to become?” Our life is partly discovering our likes and dislikes, our strengths and weaknesses, but it is also about developing ourselves into who we want to be (once we decide who we want to be). We have the freedom to direct our emotions, thoughts and actions. So, what type of person do you want to become in this situation? And do it.
11. Know your boundaries and communicate them clearly. It is hard for people to push you into things you don't want to do if you are clear about your boundaries. Great for avoiding future problems.
12. Self-gratitude. Gratitude with a twist. Vishen Lakiani recommends that every day we list at least one characteristic about ourselves or one action we took that day which we appreciate about ourselves. Include it in a gratitude journal. We can only expand our strengths when we acknowledge them.