4 Steps To Creating A Resiliency Plan
There are days we feel on top of the world. We fully engage in life, remaining open to whatever comes next. Then there are days we wonder why everything is falling apart and life is so cruel. We’ve lost something or someone dear. We’ve failed in an embarrassing way. We feel alone and full of fear. These times of crisis do not last, but it often feels as though we’ll feel the same way forever. It’s easy to forget that even heartbreaking scenarios—losses that change our conditions and even physically knock us down—continue to shift as time moves and perspective arrives. To remember the beauties of our shared journey, even while we sit in a whirlwind of pain, is true resilience, and resiliency is an attribute that can be developed. It takes a combination of resources, both internal and external.
When going through tough times, acknowledging the way we feel sets the stage for resilience. Journaling and meditation are wonderful ways to explore feelings, rather than trying to change them. Pema Chodron speaks about Tonglen meditation in her beautiful book Start Where You Are. The basic premise is to achieve a balance of give and take. What distinguishes the meditation is the counterintuitive nature of breathing in the discomfort, being present with it, rather than running away from it. From this presence, we are able to foster true compassion for ourselves.
2) Nourish the Body
When we are in a state of crisis, self-care takes on a whole new importance. It’s not as simple as getting a massage or taking a long bath. When we are looking to find strength during tough times, we need to experiment to see what truly brings us comfort. The best way to do this is to engage all senses. Collect a song or album that relaxes you, something you can touch (a warm blanket, worry beads, a stuffed animal) that brings you comfort, any food or tea that calms your nerves, a photo or visual image that brings you peace, and finally a scent — a candle or essential oil that makes you feel alive. List these things out and even consider creating a go-to kit that is just for you. Include items you can touch, smell, hear, see, and taste. Items very personal to you. When you need them, they’ll be there.
3) Take a Step Back
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (often referred to as CBT) utilizes written techniques to help people identify thinking errors or ways to reevaluate the same circumstance. This type of therapy relies on the belief that we truly do live and feel according to our perceptions. Writing is a wonderful way to do this, and a good place to start is to ask yourself what you would tell a friend who is going through this same situation. To cultivate compassion for another is often far easier than to cultivate compassion for one’s self, and this simple question could provide a new perspective.
Through the toughest times, we often find ourselves in important transitions. Through illness, we learn to respect our bodies. Through unfortunate relationships, we learn to value self. Through loss, we are reminded to appreciate each moment with those we love. Engagement means to listen to the transition and continue to exist as fully and completely as we can, not despite the pain but because of it.
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