Zach Dischner CC-BY

Ten Ideas for More Resilience in Your Life

This article was originally published in Business Punk (in German) 8/2015.

Psychological resilience means being flexible when dealing with difficult situations - and using the experience gained for personal growth. Those who overcome instinctive stress reactions (fight, flight, freeze) and react with heart and brain instead of letting their spinal cord decide for them are happier. Here are some impulses for a more resilient life:

  1. Being strong does not mean getting up immediately after falling. Above all, being strong means to keep on crawling until you can walk again. Many of us grew up with stupid sayings like “Boys don’t cry.” Work to erase them from your brain!
  2. No one can make you angry, or sad or happy – except yourself. Rationally, we all understand this, but only those who get it can be at peace with their emotions. The way there (also) leads through awareness – whenever you feel like someone else “created” one of your feelings, ask yourself if this is really the truth – no matter how minor that thought seems to be.
  3. You become like the people you spend the most time with: friends, partners, colleagues, superiors. Choose them wisely and be conscious of the time you invest in each one.
  4. Mindfuck is sometimes inevitable, and thoughts do spiral into the darkness. That can be okay because the dark moments make it easier for you to appreciate the good ones. When in a tunnel, often the only thing that helps is breathing, breathing and more breathing. Practice it before the next downward spiral hits.
  5. The famous words one spoke yesterday really are just: yesterday’s drivel. There is no reason to be the same person today as yesterday. What do you tell yourself that keeps you from changing (aka being flexible)?
  6. Growth happens only as fast as you allow it. A good therapist can help people lose 40-year-old fears in 40 minutes: If they allow themselves to. Only you can allow yourself to keep updating your self. (Mind the gap.)
  7. You will die. Yes, you. The standard recommendation to write your own eulogy and then to orientate your life accordingly usually only adds more stress. Consider this: At some point, the earth – and the universe - will no longer exist. Nothing lasts forever. The more you are aware of it, the more beautiful the present becomes. Breathe!
  8. Your actions, not your thoughts, determine who you are. What concrete daily activities can bring you closer to your ideal self? Use the dental floss method: practice a habit every single day, the easier, the better.
  9. Quitters are losers? Nonsense! Distinguish between failure and productive termination. Stop doing things that do not get you anywhere.
  10. Listen to the flight attendant: When the oxygen masks appear, secure your mask first then assist everyone else. No, ego-logical: Only if you treat yourself well, are you able to live well with yourself and the guys from no. 8 above. And in the end, this is the only thing that matters.