If you’ve been feeling rather burnt out after being resilient all your life, you might want to read this.
You aren’t going bonkers. You have heard only one half of the story.
Wise sayings like, “Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient” or, “Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare” are absolutely true.
The resilient bandwagon has been wagging its benefits in our face for so long that it has become a household virtue we all possess. After all, positively coping with stress is better; it takes the sting off mishap or the setback we face.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, it also has many health benefits. It’s associated with longevity, lower rates of depression, and greater satisfaction with life. “There’s a sense of control, and it helps people feel more positive in general,” according to Laura Malloy, the Successful Aging program director at the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine.
But what no one acknowledges is the other lens that we fail to look at. We’ve become so addicted to the “R” word that we forget its true essence. While we all love to believe that it is bouncing back when things go wrong, we don’t realize that bouncing back without reflection only causes stress and overwhelm, especially in our fast-paced modern society. We keep moving from one goal to the next and never stop to pause.
Andrew Bryant, a global thought leader on self-leadership, puts it differently. He says that we are changed forever by challenging experiences, and hence resilience is bouncing forward and not bouncing back.
Instead of lying to ourselves that challenging situations do not affect us and pretending that everything is the same, we could do the following to get it right with resilience.
1. We can own our feelings.
We find it difficult to be honest about our feelings. It is natural to get upset when things don’t work out our way. But all through the challenging and no-so-pleasant times, we put a smile on our faces, put our blinders on, and moved ahead. We disown all unacceptable emotions like anger, irritation, self-pity, doubt, exhaustion, and tiredness. We don’t want to own any of this gunk. We should not let it consume us. But can we acknowledge we have these feelings?
2. We can share our pain with others.
We feel resentful when we see people less deserving than us getting it easy. We feel rage when we see others who have hardly put in an effort, moaning about their issues, gathering a crowd to attend to them. Heck, we, too, are there first in the queue for the rescue mission. We feel resentful because, unlike them, we are afraid to share our pain, hurt, and disappointment. Maybe we should try to share the problems. After all, a burden shared is a burden halved.
3. We can allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
We don’t like it when others view us as weak. It makes us feel vulnerable, incapable, not strong enough; we don’t want to see ourselves as that because we vilify those traits within us. So we say, “Move on, it’s okay; be strong.” Can we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.?
4. We can show empathy and compassion for ourselves.
We don’t like to show ourselves the empathy, comfort, soothing extra love, and snuggles that we offer others when we feel low, punched in the gut, or when obstacles come hurling at us. We call that self-pity or feeling sorry for ourselves. Instead, we could be compassionate by giving ourselves a safe space to feel those feelings that we are not comfortable showing others.
5. We can junk false pretences and acts about being “in control.”
We want to pretend that we are okay, fine, have everything in control. Society subtly expects us to be infallible. So we want to fulfill that role to the best we can. Can we be honest with ourselves and say, “No, I don’t feel okay, but feel hurt, disappointed, and let own?”
6. Let’s accept that “demanding” and “challenging” are overrated.
We have this romanticised version of struggle and hardship and, in some toxic way, are attracted to it. We don’t want easy and straightforward. We want it complicated and difficult because only then we can prove that we are great and excellent. Beating all odds makes us feel special and like a badass, so subconsciously we seek it.
7. We can let go of unhealthy thoughts and beliefs that we have subconsciously.
According to the Law of Attraction, all our thoughts and beliefs have the power to turn into reality. If we think or believe that struggle and strife are right, we attract more of it in our life. So it is essential to let ourselves know if we think such thoughts, reflect on them, and let them go.
8. We can be more conscious of our needs and wants.
We are not aware of what we want and are too busy heading off into the wild cluelessly, not knowing why we are doing it. We ought to be working smart instead of working hard.
9. We can embrace the “rest and fun.”
Achievement, conquering, hard work, and challenges are significant and have their place. But we must find the time to chill out, rest, relax, and vent our feelings. When we give ourselves time to do that, it provides perspective and eases the ride. We don’t need to make it (life) more challenging than it needs to be.
Bouncing forward doesn’t mean that we need to change who we are. We can still be resilient, but we need to use our resources on things that are worth our time and effort. We also need to recognise that we have other traits like compassion, empathy, kindness to self, and vulnerability. Being aware of our whole self and all the strengths we have will make the journey easier.
So the next time you catch yourself on the run or ready to bounce back, remember to give yourself the time to pause and feel all your emotions. Let them out without judgment and be aware of the subconscious thoughts you are clinging to. Reflect on how valid and accurate they are and let them go if they serve no purpose.
It is best to bounce forward with a clean slate and letting go of all the baggage. Because to deny that the situation affected you is a big lie.