Amy reminds You You Have The Power to Increase Your Resilience
Best Laid Plans
Years ago, I was to sing at a friend’s wedding. The bride had been planning every detail of this event for over two years. At one point, she called me in a panic, saying, “I am just so afraid something will go wrong.”
“Count on it,” I responded.
The wedding day arrived. It was a brilliantly sunny day with mild temperatures. Five hundred guests sat in the church adorned with glorious bouquets lining the altar and pews as gentle harp music rippled through the air. Everything was perfect.
Toward the end of the service, fourteen attendants stood beside the bride and groom to receive a special blessing. Suddenly, a thunderous retch, the sploosh of liquid, and a resounding thud interrupted the service. The bride’s brother had vomited and passed out cold at the altar. The church exploded with 487 guests gagging and running to the bathroom, while a guest doctor and family members jumped to assist the fallen groomsman.
Moments later, ambulance sirens screeched to a halt outside the church. EMTs raced in with a stretcher for the tuxedoed, vomit-covered groomsman. A few brave guests armed with handfuls of paper towels mopped up while the attendants washed splatters off their formal wear.
Forty minutes later, everyone (painted in various shades of green) harnessed their emotional resilience to resume their places. The ceremony restarted with a rancid-sweet-flower smell permeating the air.
In the end, the bride and groom married and the reception was fun. Despite my friend wanting to kill him, her brother, hungover from the bachelor party, recovered.
Even after years of planning out every detail of her wedding, shift happened.
The Human Need to Predict
As human beings, we have a distinct feeling of being able to internally pre-experience future events. Because of this feeling, making constant plans for our future comes naturally. Pre-experiencing the future allows us to “try out” various possibilities, which can be handy. The problem comes when we mistake our pre-experience tryouts for facts. Thinking doesn’t make it real.
Human beings are notoriously bad at predicting the future. Life never precisely happens as planned. When plans are successful, our innate ability to adjust and adapt makes dreams come to fruition.
Good News! You’ve Got This!
Experiencing a worldwide pandemic is new to all of us. Despite this, here is good news: Within you is a deep, untapped reservoir of resilience that will help you survive and thrive during and after this pandemic.
Life will not be the same because life never is the same. Our lives are in a constant state of change. But our remarkable ability to adapt makes most challenges and changes barely noticeable. Think about it: you and everyone else out there has experienced and survived some challenge. Most of us have thrived through difficulties– the death of a loved one, conflict in a relationship, illness, pain, job disappointments, and fear.
The truth is, you were resilient long before COVID-19 came along. You will figure this out; you will adapt. You can not only survive, but thrive. This is a choice.
Jason Moser Ph.D. of Psychology at the University of Michigan, who has published multiple studies on human emotions, cognition, and the ability to rebound from adversity, says, “Humans are a highly adaptive species” as are many others in the animal kingdom “so we’ll figure out how to get to living in a new world and be okay.”
Overcome Stress at Work
COVID-19 presents a unique set of concerns about work, including:
- Being exposed to the virus at work
- Juggling personal and family needs while working
- Managing a different workload
- Adapting to working from home and a new work schedule
- Learning new communication tools and handling technical difficulties
- Uncertainty about the stability and future of your job or workplace.
Whether you are experiencing stress at work, at home, or both, the following tips will help you increase your self-reliance and build your emotional resilience.
Let’s start with the most straightforward bit: gratitude.
Gratitude practices can not only help you overcome stress at work. These can also help you better manage any hardships or challenges that come your way. Building emotional resilience is about control and perspective.
A Gratitude practice allows you to stop and reflect on the good instead of overlooking it and passing it off as unimportant. Of equal importance, gratitude also will enable you to pause and put some space between your impulse and your actions. This space allows you the ability to choose. It gives you the control and perspective you need to make the right decisions while dealing with challenging situations.
Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down your blessing and your thoughts about the gifts you’ve received each day.
Count your blessings. Pick a time every week to write and reflect on the good things that happened during the week. Choose three to five things to identify each week. As you write, think about the sensations you felt when that blessing came to you.
Reframing is an excellent tool for building your emotional resilience. Reframing works because it requires you to look for positives in a situation.
A Reframing Metaphor: The camera and director
There are always many ways to view a situation. As a metaphor, let’s say your Uncle Bob is videotaping your family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Uncle Bob can focus his camera lens on the massive pile of dirty cooking pans by the sink or focus on the family laughing together while enjoying their food. When you shift your perspective, you change your perception. Here is an incredibly useful reframing tool I use in my everyday life.
One way this humor helps is by allowing us space to detach or distance ourselves. Humor also helps strengthen group stability and social support. As a result, you will be more effective during challenging situations.
Humor makes challenges tolerable. Don’t let feeling frustrated and stressed keep you from finding the fun and joy in life. Humor is powerful. It can weaken negative emotions and flip a negative mood into a positive one.
Finding the funny redirects you towards solutions to the problems that created your negative emotions in the first place. It eases the tension you feel and gives you greater control over the challenges you are facing. Humor helps keep everyday irritations in perspective. Most (not all) problems are pretty small when you consider the big picture.
We cannot control everything that happens to us, but we can control our response. So count your blessings, shift your perspective, and laugh. Building resilience happens by making choices, one challenge at a time.
“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
― Maya Angelou