Change is truly the only constant in life and we can’t stop it or avoid it. But we can strengthen our resiliency to manage it.
This week, I discovered that my internet service, which seems to be getting slower and slower, has actually never been as fast as what I was told I purchased. It’s been several years since I received the modem from my service provider that was supposed to be 100 megabytes per second and after really struggling since the purchase of a new powerful computer a few weeks ago and troubleshooting every possible reason for my blurriness on zoom or youtube videos, I finally called the provider.
I was informed that my speed was never 100, but 60. I’m running about 12 devices through my home network every day, in addition to conducting online workshops that pull a lot of bandwidth, so it’s actually amazing I haven’t had worse problems. I upgraded to 500 mbps, but speed tests the next day showed I only increased to 100, back to where I was supposed to be before the upgrade. Down the rabbit hole I went, discovering that my 4-year-old wi-fi router is antiquated. Who knew that IEEE 802.11ac which is Wi-Fi 5 can no longer keep up with today’s equipment and that with my new modem and computer, I need an IEEE 802.11ax which is Wi-Fi 6. What the heck?! How is the average person supposed to understand this stuff and know what’s compatible with what?
My new router is arriving today and I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun installing it and changing all of the devices. Not to be negative, but there always seems to be a glitch, so I’m working now on getting into a calm state before the package arrives so that I can remain patient and open-minded as I get my geekdom on.
Technology is changing so rapidly, I think we’re going to have a mess on our hands for a while. Every device has a different port and cord style, USB 2 and 3 are being replaced in new equipment with USB-C for speed, which I guess means we’ll have to replace all of our equipment because most of it has no USB-C ports, and software companies are so busy competing with each other, they’re making it quite difficult to manage apps that don’t get along as well.
Then of course there’s my new nemesis I’m trying to become friends with, artificial intelligence. Don’t worry, I won’t get started on that again today, but drastic changes are coming soon. Vast technological changes ranging from drones that pick fruit and deliver packages to robotic surgeries to online healthcare to driverless cars are changing jobs, services and ways of life at a rapid pace. And the way we work has been drastically altered with about 30% of the workforce now working remotely. It’s projected by 2025, as many as 36.2 million Americans will be remote workers.
The acceleration of change in our lives today is pretty mind-blowing. But change has always been here and it’s always constant because that’s how anything, including us, grows or progresses. Frequently, change means agitation, however. Think of the pearl in the oyster or the caterpillar in its chrysalis. Change isn’t typically a smooth transition, and most people are somewhat aversive to it. But since we can’t stop change or avoid it, we need resilience to deal with the challenges, stress, and adversity that arise with change and are a natural part of life.
Of course, change isn’t our only source of agitation. We all experience small irritations to major life events that can cause upset, pain or even crisis and we all have reckoning moments in the face of failures. Instead of reacting to each one as it hits, we can take a more mindful approach by developing the skill most needed to recover from these experiences.
Resilience helps us to bounce back from setbacks, recover from stress, and maintain a positive outlook even in difficult situations. It enables us to adapt to change, overcome obstacles, and pursue our goals and aspirations with determination and perseverance. Having resilience helps us to maintain our mental and emotional well-being and live a fulfilling life, even in the face of adversity. In short, resilience is a valuable and necessary quality for personal growth, success, and happiness.
We have great models of resilience in the public arena. The actress, Charlize Theron, grew up on a farm near Johannesburg with a violent and drunken father who frequently threatened to murder her and her mother. When she was 15, her mom killed her dad during a fight in self-defense. This traumatic childhood resulted in Theron not fitting in well at school and suffering various medical problems. But clearly, her resilience got her through to be the success she is today.
Many people are surprised by Michael Jordan’s many failures, including being dropped from his high school team and being seen as a slacker by his coaches at the time. But he had a fierce attitude of never giving up and that resilience drove him to keep practicing no matter how many times he was rejected or how many shots he missed on the basketball court.
Consider Nelson Mandela. The South African leader was imprisoned due to political persecution and stayed there for 27 years. He remained determined to see justice come to pass and continued to oppose apartheid and stand for his beliefs, bouncing back to become the leader of the nation.
While surfing, Bethany Hamilton survived a shark attack but lost her arm at only 13 years old. Her resilience resulted in her continuing to surf and winning huge championships despite such a major setback. There are thousands if not millions of examples of resilient people not just surviving adversity, but thriving in life that can be an inspiration for all of us.
Since we clearly have at least some resilience or we wouldn’t be here after the past 3 years, I want to talk about how we can increase it or enhance it. We can start by focusing on our strengths. We typically focus on our weaknesses or flaws. I actually did this first thing this morning when I looked in the mirror. My response was not “thank you for being here again today.” It was more along the lines of ugh, you look tired. You look weathered. That doesn’t help us in any way. Self-esteem increases our resilience so if you hear that little voice in your head criticizing you, stop it in its tracks. Instead, be kind to yourself and remind yourself of your strengths. What are your top five strengths? This may feel so alien to you as to cause a blank mind, so if you can’t think of any, take a moment to jot down a few questions and then reflect on them so that you can answer. What do you love to do? When we love to do something, we tend to do it frequently and well, so it could be a strength. Or, you can try contrast to get an answer. What do you hate to do? That will probably be a weakness but the opposite of it could be a strength.
Another way to help identify strengths is to consider others. What are some characteristics you admire in others? And again, you can try contrasting, what are some characteristics you dislike in others? As you consider these questions, remember to be mindful. Don’t judge other people or yourself. If you are thinking of characteristics you dislike, it’s the characteristics, not the person. Identifying your strengths is a form of self-compassion, recognizing what’s wonderful about you. Once you identify your strengths, bring them to mind often, especially when facing a challenge. One of my top strengths is adaptability and by keeping that in mind, I’m able to accept most change that occurs because I believe I can navigate it successfully.
Build or maintain a support system to help build your resilience. Surround yourself with supportive family, friends and community members who can help you cope with stress and adversity. If you don’t a have a support system, think about ways to develop one. Join a group based on a hobby or religion or an activity like exercising. Start connecting with others to find the people to join your system. Keep in mind, too, that a therapist or coach can be part of your support system, so consider adding to your network.
Practicing self-care, by engaging in activities that promote physical, mental and emotional well-being, such as exercise, meditation and proper nutrition also strengthens resilience. Engaging in regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help build physical resilience, which in turn can help build mental and emotional resilience. Meditation can strengthen mental and emotional resilience by developing neural patterns of calm and centeredness. It also promotes responding instead of reacting which can be quite effective when adversity strikes. Practice mindful eating so that your body has the nutrition it needs in order to feel good. If you’re full of sugar and caffeine, your resiliency markedly declines. Just as with not enough sleep, when you’re in a weakened state, your inner resources are too overloaded trying to repair the mess and your bounce-back factor won’t bounce very well.
Learning and practicing stress-management techniques, such as deep breathing and visualization can help us better cope with stress and bounce back faster. Emotional intelligence and particularly self-awareness are the foundation for effective stress management. Through self-awareness, we can recognize negative stress as soon as it starts. Mindfulness helps us re-regulate while strengthening our overall emotional intelligence.
Practicing gratitude and focusing on the good in life can help us maintain a positive perspective, even in tough times. Remember that our brain responds to whatever stimulus we provide it, so when something negative happens, we can switch the hormones the brain will release by shifting our focus out of stress and onto possibilities. Even when something really upsetting happens, we can ask ourselves, now what? There is always learning and growing from adversity, so focusing on what comes next is an opportunity to look for a potential positive that could result from the negative event. I recently interviewed Neeta Bushan on her new book, “That Sucked, Now What? How to Embrace the Joy in Chaos and Find Magic in the Mess, which is full of good information on resiliency and steps you can take to boost yours. The audio podcast drops on Monday and the YouTube version soon after. You can also find a link to her book on our website.
Certain skills help build resilience, such as problem-solving. Even simple problems help, such as doing a puzzle, watching or reading a mystery or doing home repairs. I get lots of practice on that last one, believe me. My house is 73 years old and is a plethora of opportunities to problem-solve. You can also build your decision-making skills by practicing which in turn builds your resilience. You make a thousand decisions a day, so start recognizing them and fine-tune the decisions that don’t work out so well.
Resilience is a skill that can be developed over time and it’s important to be patient and persistent in building it. We know we have challenges ahead, that not all of the changes that are coming are going to be to our benefit and that much of life is beyond our control. Developing a skill that can help us bounce back quickly results in our ability to continue to enjoy life despite whatever is occurring around us.
The pastor Charles Swindoll said, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
We can’t usually control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond. We can best respond to any situation when we are mindful and have strong resilience. None of us wants constant change, upsetting events or difficult challenges, but they’re going to happen because they’re part of life. Remember, resisting what is creates suffering. Wouldn’t you agree it’s better to be prepared for what’s coming and get through it in a healthy, effective way? Consider building your resilience skills today so that whatever tomorrow brings, you’ll be able to bounce back and continue to thrive in life.
This podcast is part of the Airwave Media podcast network. Visit AirwaveMedia.com to listen and subscribe to other great shows like The Daily Meditation Podcast, Everything Everywhere and Movie Therapy. We’d deeply appreciate your support at patreon.com/amindfulmoment. Our podcast is now available to view on our YouTube Channel, so be sure to follow us there and on Instagram @amindfulmomentpodcast.
A Mindful Moment is written and hosted by Teresa McKee and/or Melissa Sims. The Spanish version is translated and hosted by Paola Theil. Intro music, Retreat, by Jason Farnham. Outro music, Morning Stroll by Josh Kirsch, Media Right Productions. Thank you for tuning in! This podcast is produced by Work2Live Productions.