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Developing resilience and perseverance

I’ve just completed an online HIIT class, where I was pushed to my absolute limit – sweating, aching, heart pounding, and my body was screaming STOP, but the instructor was shouting just as loud – work, come on, keep going. Luckily this was what my internal dialogue was also shouting at me, because, if it wasn’t, I’d have zoomed out and flopped on the sofa with a cuppa. Now, post workout glow, everything zinging and the pride and relief that it’s done and satisfaction that I’ve started the day doing something for me to benefit me, my health and wellbeing, I’m so glad I grabbed onto some resilience and persevered until the end.
It’s like when I have to talk myself into a run, sometimes….you won’t regret doing it, but you will regret not doing it, I say to myself!
We’re in for some long term changes, personally, socially and economically with this pandemic, and we need to learn to be adaptable, which we’ve covered in previous blogs, as well as cultivate resilience and perseverance.

It’s not about how many times you get knocked down, it’s about how often you get back up.

Resilience is our ability to overcome, adjust to and recover with ease from obstacles, challenges and changes.

We all face set-backs in life and resilience is about overcoming them, stepping up to the challenges of them and being able to handle or deal with the emotional  and practical consequences of negative experiences or situations and being able to move on from them better, stronger and wiser.

Perseverance is being able to continually have determination, self-discipline and motivation and putting effort into trying to overcome something or achieve something regardless of the set-backs and challenges we face.

How often have you been met with a challenge in life and given up on it or yourself first time, without having the strength and courage to learn, develop and grow from your experiences or mistakes?  How has that decision affected you going forward?

Perseverance is about self-discipline, self-control, self-motivation and self-accountability.  It’s about being passionate enough about yourself, your life and your experiences to ensure that you put in the effort consistently to ensure that you achieve what it is you are setting out to achieve.

Clearly we all face adversity in life so, how can we deal with adversity in the best possible way?

My previous blogs have been leading up to this, looking at building a resilience in a step by step fashion – we’ve explored controlling your thoughts and emotions, building positive and supportive thinking and behavioural habits, making self-care a priority, being accountable, recognising and anchoring into positive and resourceful states, as well as how to process big decisions by chunking information – either chunking up or chunking down, considering how your decisions, commitments and actions will affect your life and those around you, and cultivating an attitude of gratitude.

So, being resilient, involves being positive, proactive and focused on the bigger picture.  It’s about developing and maintaining a growth mind-set, visualising the end goal and maintaining focus on the overall bigger picture so that you can keep a calm head, seek to be solutions focused and overcome obstacles.

The language we use to talk to, for and about ourselves is of paramount importance and hugely influences our response and ability to keep calm and carry on.

Some key attributes needed to be resilient include:

  • Identify challenges rather than difficulties or problems. The way we label a setback will influence our ability to think curiously and creatively and to be solution focused.
  • Maintain commitment – when we know who we are, what we value and what we want from life, we are more likely to work for it, regardless of the self-motivation, self-discipline and occasional sacrifice required to achieve our goal or intention, regardless of any setbacks.
  • Remember that you can control what you can control. Ok, so we’re in a pandemic and there are things in life that are different to how they were and there might be issues around child care, finances and work, etc. Instead of focussing on and being frustrated, overwhelmed and defeated by the elements that you are not in control of, focus on what you can control and how you can control those elements.

Part of developing resilience and perseverance is the language we use to understand the setback and how we explain it to ourselves.

  • By maintaining a positive and solutions focused outlook, we not only find ways to overcome the challenges that we are faced with, we are also more inclined to keep going. By maintaining this stance, we become aware of and understand that ‘this too shall pass’.  I often joke with my sister in times of strife that ‘I’m getting there, as long as this isn’t there….’ i.e. I’m willing to keep my eye on the prize and striving forward, this part of the journey might be a bit rough, tough and uncomfortable, but I’m not yet at my final destination, so I’ll keep plugging along.
  • Don’t let a negative event or moment in time define you – just because you are having a rough go of things at one moment in time doesn’t mean that that is who you are and you need to label yourself as someone who is struggling or someone who can’t cope – it’s normal to have an array of emotional experiences, we’re human after all, and the fact that we feel, express and understand emotions is part of the beauty of being human, just learn how and when to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and anchor into a more positive and resourceful state.
  • Be kind to yourself and stop the name and shame or blame game. There is no point in dwelling on fault finding and blaming, as this only leads to further negativity and feelings of overwhelm and helplessness.
  • Show yourself some kindness. We often look externally for validation or a supportive word or gesture from others, but we have to be self-reliant enough to be able to self-sooth and give ourselves the love, compassion and support that we need to move above and beyond challenges. Tell yourself that you’re doing well, that you are proud of yourself, that you can do this, and that you have the knowledge, skills and personal qualities to do this.
  • Model resilient behaviour – either look around you and learn from others who have demonstrated resilience and copy what you think their thought and behaviour patterns are, or reflect on a time that you were resilient in the past and learn from your own thought processes and actions.

So, resilience is about the mind set and thought process to overcome challenges and maintain focus, and perseverance is the act of keeping going and going and going until you get there.  It’s like Dory in Finding Nemo, ‘just keep swimming, just keep swimming’, remembering that if at first you don’t succeed, just keep going until you do. Well, that is easier said than done – and it’s when those positive habits come into practice, you know, self-motivation, self-discipline and self-accountability.  All of this is about character building and leadership and we have to be the leaders in our own lives, because if we aren’t, well no one else is going to be, and the consequences aren’t worth thinking about.