Building resilience - tolerating frustration

Resilience is developed by identfying helpful ways of responding to life's challenges. Change will be imposed on you whether you like it or not, but you always have the choice about how you respond.

Resilience is something you can learn. For example, put yourself into situations that frustrate you. This might be the longest queue in the supermarkets, the ones with full trolleys, children and only one person dealing with the shopping. A good chance of a slow queue. What can you do to make yourelf feel comfortable. You choose how to respond.. Rage and resentment, or an opportunity to relax, distract yourself, think through some problem so that you don't focus on the way your needs seem to have been overlooked.

With this goal of coping better with potential frustration in mind, I have recently been taking the bus down to London rather than the train. Resilience needs practice as much as any other skill. When I then drove myself down to London the other day, something I don't look forward to, I was a bit gloomy about what an ordeal such a long drive would be and how tired and stressed I would feel. But I found the journey surprisingly pleasant and relaxing. The bus training seems to have done the trick! Bonus.

Here are some tips for building resilience.

Take care of yourself.

Pay attention to your own needs and feelings, don't just fall in with what people expect of you. Engage in activities that you find deeply absorbing. Add variety into your life.

Step by step towards your goal.

Develop some realistic goals for yourself. Do something to move you closer to your goal, even if it is only small. Instead of focusing on the jobs that seem overwhelming and impossible, ask yourself, 'What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?' You may be going slowly, but you are pointing in the right direction.

Change is inevitable.

Sometimes long-cherished goals become unattainable, our circumstances change, we get older, people move away. So these goals are no longer relevant. Letting them go is all we can do. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter. Where you can take action, plan it, take it. Where there is no effective action to take, then we have to accept it.

Build a network of connections.

Good relationships with family members and others are important. Rows in the family are inevitable, but with a bit of effort, we can choose not to fan the flames to allow us focus on our goals. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and are interested in you strengthens optimism and confidence. And doing the same for others builds a positive view of yourself. Broaden out your network so that you are not depending on just a tiny group.

See problems as challenges to resolve.

Bad things do happen, even to nice people. You can’t change this but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Notice the detail of how you feel better when you deal with difficult situations. All this will train your mind and body so it gets easier and easier to deal with situations that require determination, persistence etc.

Give up the urge to 'awfulise'.

Even when facing very painful events, try to keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion. Give up predicting only a bad future when then are more likely and more pleasant outcomes. A bit less 'It will be awful and I will make a complete idiot of myself' and a bit more 'It may be a bit of an ordeal, but it gives me the chance to...'

All of these things gradually change your attitudes from verging on the rigid towards more flexible, so that you can adapt as life moves on. Going with the flow. Not drowning. Bending in the wind. Not breaking down.

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