What happens to you when you face disappointment? Things don’t go as you initially planned? You fail an exam you were certain you’d pass? You lose your job due to circumstances beyond your control? How do you bounce back from those curve balls that life throws your way?
Life can be challenging and may include many stressful situations which can include relationship difficulties, financial hardships, discrimination…in fact any sudden change can induce stress and throw you complete off balance.
We all have the capacity to steer through serious life challenges and find ways to bounce back and to thrive. We are born with the capacity for resilience. But resilience is not something we have or don’t have. We work on it throughout our lives. And we need to start as early as possible. Except most of us aren’t always allowed to figure out ways to bounce back from our challenges. This starts when we are kids and so by the time we reach adulthood, we have stopped exercising our resilience muscle.
According to the booklet – Building Resilience in Children – “Children learn a lot by watching their parents. When parents cope well with everyday stress, they are showing their children how to do the same.”
This was the case for American entrepreneur, S. B. Fuller. In their book, Success through a Positive Mental Attitude, Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone tell the story: Young Fuller was different from his friends in one way: he had a remarkable mother. His mother refused to accept this hand-to-mouth existence for her children, though it was all she had ever known. She knew there was something wrong with the fact that her family was barely getting along in the world of joy and plenty. She used to talk to her son about his dreams.
“We shouldn’t be poor, S.B.,” she used to say. “And don’t ever let me hear you say that it is God’s Will that we are poor. We are poor – not because of God. We are poor because Father has never developed a desire to become rich. No one in our family has ever developed a desire to be anything else.”
Og Mandino shares that within each and every one of us is a flame that burns and its heat is a constant irritation to our spirits to become better than we are. Will we fan the flames of dissatisfaction and welcome that challenge?
Hill and Stone tell us that “most of us are inclined to look upon success as coming in some mysterious way through advantages that we DO NOT have. Perhaps because we DO have them, we don’t SEE them.”
Scroll number four, in the Greatest Secret by Og says
None can duplicate my brush strokes, none can make my chisel marks, none can duplicate my handwriting, none can produce my child and in truth none has the ability to sell exactly as I. Henceforth, I will capitalize on this difference for it is an asset to be promoted to the fullest.
There was a salesman working for W. Clement Stone called Al Allen. Al wanted to be the company’s star salesman. He was constantly reading success related literature and in particular was captivated by an editorial in Success Magazine.
One icy winter day Al “cold canvassed” every store in a city block in Wisconsin; he walked in unannounced and tried to sell insurance. On that day Al did not make a SINGLE sale. Al decided he would use his dissatisfaction as inspiration.
The next day before setting out from the local office, he told his fellow salesmen about his failures the day before. He said, “Wait and see. Today I’m going back to call on those same prospects and I’ll sell more insurance than all the rest of you combined!”
And he did.
In a MindTools on-line lesson on resilience the lesson states: Resilient people don’t wallow or dwell on failures; they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and then move forward.
According to the research of leading psychologist, Susan Kobasa, there are three elements that are essential to resilience:
- Challenge– Resilient people view a difficulty as a challenge, not as a paralyzing event. They look at their failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from, and as opportunities for growth. They don’t view them as a negative reflection on their abilities or self-worth.
- Commitment– Resilient people are committed to their lives and their goals, and they have a compelling reason to get out of bed in the morning. Commitment isn’t just restricted to their work – they commit to their relationships, their friendships, the causes they care about, and their religious or spiritual beliefs.
- Personal Control– Resilient people spend their time and energy focusing on situations and events that they have control over. Because they put their efforts where they can have the most impact, they feel empowered and confident. Those who spend time worrying about uncontrollable events can often feel lost, helpless, and powerless to take action.
Another leading psychologist, Martin Seligman, says the way that we explain setbacks to ourselves is also important. (He talks in terms of optimism and pessimism rather than resilience, however, the effect is essentially the same.) This “explanatory style” is made up of three main elements:
- Permanence– People who are optimistic (and therefore have more resilience) see the effects of bad events as temporary rather than permanent. For instance, they might say “My boss didn’t like the work I did on that project” rather than “My boss never likes my work.”
- Pervasiveness– Resilient people don’t let setbacks or bad events affect other unrelated areas of their lives. For instance, they would say “I’m not very good at this” rather than “I’m no good at anything.”
- Personalization– People who have resilience don’t blame themselves when bad events occur. Instead, they see other people, or the circumstances, as the cause. For instance, they might say “I didn’t get the support I needed to finish that project successfully,” rather than “I messed that project up because I can’t do my job.”
I’ll end with something for you to contemplate, put forward by Dr. Srikumar S. Rao founder of The Rao Institute:
Life is short. And uncertain. It is like a drop of water skittering around on a lotus leaf. You never know when it will drop off the edge and disappear. So each day is far too precious to waste. And each day that you are not radiantly alive and brimming with cheer is a day wasted.
Stop right now and evaluate your life. YOUR LIFE. As it is right now. Are you, by and large and daily variations aside, happier now than you have ever been? Do you have the inner conviction that you are on the path that is just right for you, the one that is transparently leading you to fulfillment in many dimensions – in your career, in relationships, in spiritual development?
Your life did not just happen. You experience life exactly as you have fashioned it. If you are unhappy with where you are, you can deconstruct the parts you don’t like and build them up again!
Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone tell us “You can profit by disappointment if it is turned into inspirational dissatisfaction. Rearrange your attitudes and convert the failure of one day, into success on another.”
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