How to Cultivate Resilience When Life Isn’t Fair

Have you ever felt like life just keeps knocking you down and leaves you gasping for breath? We all have at times, because life doesn’t always play out the way we want or expect it to.

But we don’t have to let these blows keep us down permanently. And even while we’re still dealing with the situation we can find some peace and happiness in our lives, and within ourselves.

According to Psychology Today, “resilience is about getting through pain and disappointment without letting them crush your spirit.”

In the article, “What is Resilience and Why is It Important?” writer Ashley Elizabeth states that people who are able to effectively navigate the highs and lows of life have what psychologists call resilience, or an ability to effectively bounce back from adversity.

Whenever you come across a difficult situation, you have two choices: you can either let your emotions get the best of you and become paralyzed by fear, or you can uplift yourself from the negative and transform pain into possibility.

…These experiences may bend you, but they do not have to break you.”

To read the article, go here: https://www.lifehack.org/715558/what-is-resilience-and-how-to-be-resilient.

Now that we have an idea of what resilience is, here are a few tips for developing more of it when we need it most. Life is certainly not always fair, easy, or pain-free. It’s good to acknowledge the situation, and our feelings about it.

But we can also do things to help ourselves not only survive whatever has happened, but get back to a state of well-being and joy as soon as possible, and keep a sense of perspective in the meantime.

  1. Give yourself a break.

I mean this in 2 ways.

  • First, don’t be too hard on yourself.

Sometimes we face setbacks because of our own mistakes, but mistakes are part of being human, and they’re how we learn. So just go forward and do it better next time. Instead of spending energy berating yourself, use it to recover.

But often, the hardship we’re facing is not our fault and has nothing to do with our actions or character. Accidents, the actions of others, and many other things beyond our control could be solely at fault.

But it is still human nature to somehow think we could have done something to make things better. Or we may just feel guilty about the natural range of emotions we’re likely to experience.

But those negative thoughts and feelings just make things harder. That doesn’t mean denying what’s wrong, or denying your feelings. Feel what you need to feel, accept the situation the best you can, but try not to be too hard on yourself. Be as gentle with yourself as you would be with a good friend.

  • Second, you may need to literally take a break.

When circumstances beat you down, it makes sense to give yourself some time to rest, focus on self care, and not expect as much from yourself for awhile. Just like if we are injured physically, a situation that is unfair, difficult, or even tragic, wounds us emotionally, and we need to give ourselves time and whatever else we need in order to heal.

2. Focus on the positives.

This one comes in 3 parts.

  • First, think about all your own positive qualities.

For every time you’ve made a mistake, you’ve probably done several things right. For every small way you’ve let someone down, you’ve likely been there for them in large ways much more often.

And even if you sometimes feel weak or lost or beaten down by circumstances beyond your control, remember your strengths. Doing so can help you feel better about yourself and remind you that you can survive this situation too.

  • Second, think about all the good things and people in your life who are there for you whatever you’re going through

As with resilience, gratitude has been a popular subject of study recently, and there is evidence that recognizing and being grateful for the good things in our lives, even in bad times, can help us feel better, function better, and enjoy our lives more.

  • Third, surround yourself with those positive, supportive people, and things.

Instead of allowing negative people to make you feel worse about the situation, spend time only with those you trust to support you and lift you up.

In addition, draw support from your faith, from reading positive books, from the unconditional love of your pets, from spending time in the natural world, or whatever else helps you to feel nurtured, grounded, and in touch with what is still good about life in general and your life in particular

     3. Give yourself time.

I think the phrase, “bounce back,” though encouraging, is not a perfect metaphor. If you stretch a rubber band almost too far and then let it go, it will bounce right back to its normal shape. If you drop a rubber ball on the floor and it hits, hard, it will come immediately back up.

But we aren’t made of rubber. When life stretches us close to our breaking point, or we have a hard fall, we probably won’t be back to normal in seconds, minutes, or days. It takes time and effort, and we shouldn’t expect ourselves to get through all that healing and regrouping immediately.

Take the time you need. Be patient with yourself. But trust that like that rubber band, you will eventually take on your usual, healthy form, and like the ball that had a hard hit, you don’t have to stay down. It’s a process that happens in stages, and it’s more complicated than with the above objects, but trust that you’ll get there.

Think of resilience as a muscle. You can build it up, so that it will support you when you need it. And you may be amazed at how strong you can really be.

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