Will you bounce back from these challenging times? Do you feel stretched to your limit?
We can grow when we face challenges or we can crumble. Growing in our mental resilience or ‘bounce back-ability’ is key.
In their book Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back , Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy examine the ability of human beings to bounce back from disaster or trauma. Some of the important correlations that they found were personality traits like optimism and confidence.
They found that such personality traits are rooted in belief systems that allow one to, as they put it – turn life’s proverbial lemons into lemonade.
This system of thought is based on three fundamental ideas. The belief that:
- one can find a meaningful purpose in life,
- one can influence one’s surroundings and the outcome of events, and
- positive and negative experiences will lead to learning and growth.
Taking these ideas to actual effective actions is the next step.
Dr. Kevin Majeres, a Cognitive Behavioural Psychiatrist at Harvard medical school has done some excellent work on reframing. He identifies the practice of reframing as deliberately training yourself to see trials as opportunities instead of as threats. Taking this approach can really improve your ability to bounce back.
Reframing changes how your brain works during times of stress in three ways.
- you lose the tunnel vision formed by the threat,
- maintain your ability to make moral decisions, and
- keep a clear vision of your ideals at the forefront of your thoughts.
In the case of the current crisis, it is easy to become overwhelmed and be thinking about COVID-19 at all times. This can have a paralyzing effect on your behaviour. If we reframe the way we think about the crisis we improve our ability to bounce back from it.
Secondly, it is important to make moral decisions that keep you and your family safe both emotionally and physically. During this time, choose compassion for others as your response. Reach out to those who are isolated. Provide support for those who are stressed.
And finally, remember who you are and want to be. Think about this time as an opportunity to grow in creativity, patience and compassion. Come out of this time mentally and emotionally stronger and more resilient. At the end of the day, you will be more satisfied if you stayed true to yourself.