Written at a Starbucks in Cerritos, CA on December 7th. Sipping on a tall Americano and watching the cutest old couple flirt with each other.
A few weeks ago I tore some ligaments in my ankle playing hoops with some of the fellas. I’m sure you’ve had an injury similar or maybe some other unfortunate incident that required you to overcome some obstacles. Well, this was my first injury and it got me thinking a little bit. Do things happen for a reasons or are acts like this just random occurrences in an unscripted life?
Yeah, I know…. loaded question right?
A sign? A coincidence? Both?
I’m asking you the question because as I sat and thought about the injury I noticed myself thinking that maybe someone or something was trying to tell me something. I’ve been burning the midnight oil with this website, teaching some group classes, working with private clients, and writing for some other sites, as well as for a non-profit I am hoping to launch soon. Needless to say, I’ve been a tad on the worn out side.
Is the busted ankle a way of telling me to slow down a bit? That I need to focus on one thing at a time now and allow myself to breathe a little?
As I tossed around the idea of “things happening for a reason” with some buddies of mine one of them threw out a golden nugget.
“Believing things happen for a reason makes dealing with difficult situations easier.”
If you think things happen by chance and with no rhyme or reason it can make acceptance of the event very difficult and confusing.
- Why did this happen to me?
- I don’t deserve this?
- I don’t understand how this could happen?
- This makes no sense?
It’s also very hard to apply the “things happen for a reason” concept to tragic events like natural disasters and death.
I’ve got it… it doesn’t matter. It’s an opportunity
So as I sit here and write I’ve come up with my theory. Who gives a sh*t if things happen for a reason or not. What is important is that you are given an opportunity. Maybe the greatest opportunity in the world. The opportunity to build resilience.
Resilience to me is being able to get back up when you’re knocked down and to possibly come back stronger. The sheer power to recover from adversity. Every adversity you come across builds a callous. It’s like laboring in the yard all day with a shovel, working out in the gym with a barbell or on pull-ups, or wearing a new pair of heels. You’ve got to get used to it.
A callus is for the most part harmless. It’s sole purpose is to protect you from future wear and tear. Although they’re harmless they can also be quite annoying. Especially when you have some alone time with a certain lady-friend (or man-friend) You know what I’m saying… just trying to keep it PG.
So, the big question. Can you practice resilience without having to deal with a bunch of calluses?
Regardless of whether you think things happen for a reason or not, can you build your resilience so that when things do go down you are not only ready but are able to take one on the chin and get up stronger than ever?
How can you turn what might seem like failure into something that is helpful?
1. Practice: Build resiliency by practicing resiliency. Put your self in situations that require you to overcome adversity. Google stress and see what pops up. It’s all about “stress management” which primarily emphasizes trying to prevent stress or avoid it.
Stress isn’t going anywhere much like fear. It’s going to show up from time to time whether you like it or not. Instead of trying to prevent it, why not embrace it and use it to your advantage. Muhammad Ali rope-a-dope style.
In every situation you face there are two stimuli, external and internal. The external are events and actions of others that are out of your control and the internal would be your response to those events and actions of others. The internal being something you can control based off of your values and morals.
Small challenges that might seem insignificant can help you build the resilience for when the big right hand connects.
- Cold showers
- Intermittent fasting
- Learning to do something new (swimming, guitar, language)
Are all positive stressors that you can practice that help build resiliency.
Life is never intolerable. Every challenge is a chance to improve oneself.
2. Strong social network: Surrounding yourself with the right people can make all the difference in the world. With a strong support system the ability to exchange ideas and bounce around concepts can give you the chance to clear a cluttered mind.
A strong social network can also give you tools and resources to succeed that you may not currently have or be aware of. The diversity that is offered allows for a consistent pool of knowledge to pick from. Keep an open mind as everyone has something valuable to offer. Surrounding yourself with a bunch of mini-me’s might help to validate some of your decisions and keep you motivated but when it comes to tackling challenges one of the biggest obstacles is falling back into old patterns. Take advantage of diversity and unique solutions to problems that can be offered.
3. Stay solutions focused: It can be easy to fall into the whoa-is-me trap. Feeling sorry for yourself and playing the victim. When things go wrong it is very easy to blame others, outside sources, and feel sorry for ourselves. It’s easy to play the victim because of the immediate rewards that it offers. You get comfort, pity, security, and safety from others. More importantly when playing the victim you get the lack of responsibility.
The best way to stay out of this is by staying solutions focused. When stuff goes down immediately ask yourself What steps can I take now to remedy this? No blaming yourself or others. Simply moving forward and taking immediate action. In order to stay solutions focused consider thinking about the following.
- How can your past help you through this current experience?
- Can you pull from previous experiences/success to apply here?
- What do I want this situation to become?
- What have I already achieved?
- What are some instances in which this outcome were different? Why was that?
4. No way out: Don’t give yourself a chicken-gate. Ever been on a roller coaster? You’ve been waiting in line all day and when it comes time to get on the ride you have two options.
- A. You can get on the ride.
- B. You can walk under the velvet rope (the chicken-gate) and head back down to the bottom and never get on.
By not giving yourself a chicken gate you have no choice but to get on the ride. If you’re trying to lose weight don’t buy junk food. It will get eaten even if you tell yourself it won’t. I’m all for gym memberships as well but if you’re just starting to workout take away the excuse of not having time to go to the gym by working out at home.
Take a look at some other areas of your life that you might be giving yourself a chicken gate when things get tough.
5. Keep things in perspective: When things go array it’s easy to get a case of “catastrophe syndrome.” Catastrophe syndrome is constantly blowing things out of proportion. A good example is when you fall of the wagon of your nutrition plan and think to yourself that all is lost so you might as well keep cheating the rest of the day and start over tomorrow.
Take a deep breath and concentrate on what you can do now to get back on track.
6. Continue helping others: The best way to build resiliency is to help others to build theirs. It’s often difficult to step back and take a look at our own circumstances but by helping others to overcome adversity you can learn techniques that will you should be able to apply to yourself later on.
Stay positive, committed, and optimistic
Giving up is easy. When you give up after taking one on the chin you stay on the ground for ten seconds and then it’s all over. You already know the outcome of giving up and for the most part you can move on afterwards. The problem is you never learn from the experience.
To build resiliency you have to get up and commit to fighting the good fight. Stay positive and optimistic that things will workout but more importantly ask yourself the right questions. Why did I get knocked down? What decision did I make that led to this and what can I do now so that it does not happen again?
Been knocked down recently? Did you get back up or stay down? If you got back up what motivated you to do so and what did you learn from the experience?