Resilience is your natural ability to shrug off stress and keep going. Except for some, resilience comes easier than others. But even if rolling with the punches isn't your norm, building your resilience so that you do will benefit you — both in parenting and in chasing your big life dreams.
But how do you do that?
Positive thinking isn't just about believing in yourself, it can also help you steamroll past obstacles. "Sometimes when people suffer a hardship they blame themselves. Avoid this common thinking trap by taking stock of what is good and worthwhile about yourself," says Robert Biswas-Diener, Ph.D., a positive psychology expert in Oregon and author of the new book The Courage Quotient.
Take a lesson from your youngest kids, and find the joy in the everyday.
It might feel like you are the only one to ever feel the way you do — but you aren't. And furthermore, things are often not nearly as bad as they feel. "People often have the natural tendency to blow things out of proportion. Even minor setbacks or suffering can seem like The End of the World. Focus on what is wrong, not on what might be wrong or what could go wrong," says Biswas-Diener.
So instead of beating yourself up, find the learning moment and move ahead.
There's just such relief (and power) in being able to call someone who cares about you and say, "Hey, this happened and I am upset." Your friend can help you work through it so you can move on faster too. And as a parent, having a support network of people who get it helps navigating those sticky parenting situations.
"Strong social support is known to enhance resilience to stress and to decrease the chances of developing stress symptoms when facing adversity," says Yale psychiatrist Steven M. Southwick, author of Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges. "Create and nurture a social network of family, friends and colleagues who will come to your aid during difficult times and who you will help when they are in need."
It's easy to dwell in the negative, but they don't call it the bright side for nothing. There is something hopeful and promising about finding your way into the bright side of thinking.
"Whenever possible search for opportunity in the midst of adversity. Is there something good that can come out of this painful experience? Is there something that I can learn? Is there a way that I can use this trauma experience to help other people," says Southwick.
Role models aren't just for your kids — they are for anyone who wants to grow and change. So find a resilience role model."Look around for people who handle adversity well and then study their attitudes and behaviors. What specific coping mechanisms are they using to deal with difficult situations? Can I imitate some of their adaptive attitudes, behaviors and coping mechanisms," says Southwick.
Ready to be more resilient? The rewards in your parenting and your dreams will make all your effort so worth it.
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