Building Resilience

Exam results have been the talk of the media over the last couple of weeks and families have been getting stressed as to how the futures of their youngsters will pan out, depending on the outcome.

We were one of those families, with our son receiving his A Level results, after much nervous waiting.  Thankfully for him, he gained the grades he needed to do the course he desires at his university of choice.  Big sighs of relief all round!

As he went off out to celebrate with his friends, we contemplated the next hurdle in our lives, our boy leaving home to study and live in another city.

There will certainly be tears, but also great pride and the knowledge that we have prepared him well to be a mature, confident, personable young man, able to stand on his own two feet and cope with his new life (we hope).  We will be just a phone call away and a couple of hours away by car should he need us, so that security is still there for him.  For us, we get to spend more time together, will enjoy weekends away, including ones to a certain university city, and embrace the change as well as we can.

Other students, however, have not enjoyed the same feeling of success as he has.  Having to deal with lower-than-expected grades, rejection from sixth form places, university places, jobs, apprenticeships, they will feel disappointment, hurt, anger, upset, despair and confusion.  Hopefully their families will be sympathetic, calm and supportive, but doubtless there will be some who won’t be able to hide their disappointment and will make their child feel even worse than they already do.

Calls to clearing houses, universities, sixth forms, colleges, training centres, re-evaluation of life goals, assessing new directions will ensue and in the process these young people are learning a massive life lesson – how to deal with disappointment and failure.  How to handle change.

From failure, re-evaluation may bring amazing changes in direction not even considered, and in years to come people often look back on those times as actually being beneficial and life-changing.  We can all look back in life at when things didn’t go to plan yet worked out for the better in the long run.

Forget about the consequences of failure.
Failure is only a temporary change in direction
to set you straight for your next success.
Denis Waitley, Writer, Motivational Speaker

Building Resilience
I thought this subject would be a good theme for a blog, as resilience is a necessary life skill, at work, when studying, at home, in relationships. Learning how to bounce back from tragedy or disaster and move forward positively in life is a great ability to have, and it can be learned and increased with practice.

People who have good resilience are able to cope better with change and recover more quickly from stressful situations than those with lower resilience.

So, how can you build your resilience? Here are five ways which may help you:

  1. Ensure you have good friends and family members around you. Real friends whom you see and talk to, not just interact over social media, as people like this will be of immense support to you and help you by offering different points of view and solutions and by being positive about situations;
  2. Develop good problem-solving skills These will help you view situations as challenges you can overcome, not as total roadblocks you cannot get round. If this isn’t a strength yet, then talk to someone who is good at working through issues. A friend, colleague, family member, coach. Someone who can be impartial, supportive and help you weigh up the options. I will address some ways to problem solve in a future blog.
  3. Make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out. Be prepared to have a Plan B (or even C) in case things don’t happen exactly as you thought they would. However, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Pushing yourself a little harder will be more rewarding and enable you to grow as an individual and gain confidence;
  4. Manage your feelings in a healthy way. Be conscious of how you are thinking – if you are aware of negative conversations in your head, try to move your thoughts into a more positive direction. Focus on what may go right rather than wrong, on good qualities rather than bad, etc.
  5. Have meaning in your life. Find things which bring you pleasure and so encourage positive emotions within you. Be grateful for all the good things around you, seek them out and practice gratitude for them (maybe write a list of three of four things you are grateful for at the start or end of every day), laugh, choose to focus on positive actions and make positive choices to lift your life (choose a comedy film instead of a horror film, for example). If something dreadful is really getting you down, evaluate whether you really need it in your life or consider how you might minimise your contact with it, or build in positive times around it.

Building resilience is like getting fit by working out at the gym. It takes work and practice.

It is all about choice at the end of the day. You can choose to let something drag you down and affect your life, and perhaps the lives of others, or you can choose to take positive action or have a positive state of mind about it and deal with it so that it becomes less of a burden. You will feel better and your life will take a turn for the better!

So what three positive things have happened to you today?


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