Self-esteem - Instahelp
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How to Strengthen Your Resilience: 4 Tips for a Crisis

We all are sitting in the same boat! Now we must learn to get closer to each other and to support each other! If we now act together, we could get out of this crisis even stronger…

Those and many other well-meant sentences should ease the past economic as well as the personal challenging months and should encourage us. Even, if it sounds so logical and positive and might seem to calm on the first sight – latest, at the end of the day when the stress of daily life falls off and you think about your (maybe) uncertain future many questions cross your mind, which are hard to answer with those so-called “encourage sentences”.

If you do not find peace of mind

We all probably know these calm moments where the thoughts start spinning and where the worries seem to get more and more threatening. It is often the case, that these spinning thoughts start in the late hours of the evening, which would have been planned for regeneration and recovery – and then a calm night turns into some exhausting hours full of overthinking. How can you deal with such a situation, without resignation? What can you do to be prepared for such uncertain times? What is the difference between people, who use a crisis as “a chance to grow” and people, who are overwhelmed by hopelessness and despair?

How we could change the world with our thoughts

Contrary to expectations, that the difference between these people lays in how much luck or misfortune they have during their lives, they differ more in how they think in a crisis. Even before we have aware thoughts about how to handle this or that challenge, our brain evaluates the situation automatically and asks itself the following questions:

  • Is this something I know from past experiences?
  • Do I know if, or how I can handle such a kind of challenge?
  • Does it even make sense to face this problem? Is there any sense in fighting?

The results of these questions appear for us in thoughts and patterns – “I just can’t do it” vs. “I will overcome this with all my power” – which in turn triggers emotions. We very often interpret these as fear or anger, maybe also as sadness or despair and feel physical reactions, like an increased heartbeat, wet hands, or insomnia.

How positive thinking could work

For those who are already in this negative spiral, it is extremely hard because it is difficult to have an objective perspective while experiencing intense emotions, and to find solutions is even harder then. Through decade-long research and long-term studies of the positive psychology, we now know that human beings with a positive attitude react more solution-oriented and cooler in crisis, whereas people with a negative attitude focus more on the problem and have a hard time to focus on solutions. Relied to this topic, the philosopher Epiktet (50 – 135)  left a quote, which describes the fact again and in a clear way:

People are not disturbed by things, but by the views, they take of them!


About the superpower of resilience

In psychology, individual resistance in crisis is called resilience  – an ability, which describes how people could stay optimistic and focused, even if they failed. In the past years a lot of questions came up, with the goal to find out how to strengthen people – how to promote resilience and increase resistance. People are versatile and so are the tips and tricks referred to those questions.   In this context, 4 aspects are especially effective:

1. To find a reason why it is worth not to give up

Someone who made many positive experiences in daily life and who can rely on many positive emotions experiences negative situations as less threatening and feels more balanced. Sometimes, life forces us to put in much effort to find such positive emotional states – but, almost always it is a success and suddenly someone finds personal treasures, which make them smile again. How does this work? By reminding yourself of the things which work and which make you happy on a regular basis: A happiness and gratefulness journal, for example, would remind yourself every evening for which things you are thankful in your life and which moment was the absolute “moment of happiness of your day”. It does not matter if it was the wonderful smell of your coffee on your breakfast table, or a happy moment with a colleague – each moment of joy counts!

2. To be aware of your strengths and use them

We know by now that human beings, who can use their strengths are happier and more successful than those who are permanently focusing on their weaknesses and how to eradicate them. No person in the world is perfect, but they’re also is not a person with no talents at all. The more aware you are of your strengths the more in control of your life you feel, and moments of despair and hopelessness get less. Therefore, it is worth to ask yourself from time to time: Which are my positive traits? In which moments I am proud of myself? In which things I am good at? If you cannot answer those questions, it is a good option to ask your friends or family  – very often you will find a beautiful surprise because other people see much more strengths in us then we are aware of.

3. To train resilience like a muscle – work on yourself regularly and focused

You could train your resilience through controlling your body and to relieve stress reactions. In this case, it is important to be creative and adventurous and to find out, which are your personal preferences. Very often, being in nature, but also mediation, or relaxation techniques, like muscle relaxation, or autogenic training are very good methods. It is important to know, what resilience can be compared to muscle training – it takes regularity and continual practice so that the body learns to react to those methods.  If this is happening, a used relaxation technique could help you to calm down and to break the circle of negativity.

4. To get yourself help if you cannot face it alone anymore

Sometimes, there are phases or events in life, which are too much for our resources. Then, it is important, not to suffer alone and in silence, but to get help  – a good friend, or a kind acquaintance, who would listen to you, or maybe also someone who is emotionally distant enough to give you helpful advice and who is looking for solutions with you. It is important to go into yourself and ask yourself who or what you need right now, or who could support you, to find the ideal professional help for you.

Very often, it is overcoming a crisis, that lets us get to know ourselves better and looking back, it was a positive challenge because we could learn and grow from it and new resources could be the result.

This article was first published in the magazine EMOTION – dem Magazin für selbstbestimmte Frauen.

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Published on: 26. November 2020