I don’t think you have to have a crisis to practice resilience. It’s a daily practice.
I’m sure I am no different than most and I practice resilience in each and everything I do: as a mother, wife, business partner, sports enthusiast, as a friend and woman at midlife…resilience is my daily practice.
When there’s a shift to my world as I know it, that takes resilience.
I was observing recently that there are infinite moments every day that require resilience. A change in plans, a set back at work, a difficult conversation with a family member, a few more unexpected guests at dinner, an awful night’s sleep, a bad round of golf.
This past week my kids and their girlfriends came to visit. It was the most fantastic visit. We were in our family bubble and haven’t had time together like this since Christmas. It was dreamy. It didn’t seem like a time I would have to practice resilience but it was.
I knew that in order to enjoy every second I needed to turn off my phone, cancel all outside plans and stay incredibly present. I did not want to miss a second of with the kids and my goal was to be as spontaneous as possible. Therefore…no planning!
That took resilience.. at least that’s what I call it. Goal achieved.
I needed to keep my mind on the visit and not bemoan that they live so far away. I needed to practice optimism around this so my inner nagging voice begging them to move closer could quiet down. That took resilience.
Pure focused family time, meant no diluting the visit with extraneous distractions which required me to be super conscious of how much time I spend being drawn away from the present moment.
I put my cell phone in the other room for several afternoons.
I cancelled my outside activities.
My partner and team took over my work for the week.
I shopped and cooked most of the week and loved it.
I sat more…listened more and hung out.
I found a way to talk about their lives without rushing…and the result was easy open sharing.
We tucked in and sat around the fire pit until midnight most nights.
I know all that sounds easy but it required me to be resilient.
The truth is, I was exhausted. I didn’t want to miss anything with them. I stayed up too late, got up too early to get in a quick bike ride and grocery shop. I waited around alot, a whole lot, until they were ready. I was on their schedule. I cooked way more than I ever do and I never ever really sat down.
But I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
And now that they have left I need to be resilient once again. The vacuum that their departure creates without another family visit on the horizon until maybe next summer, requires me to stay positive and work through all the steps of resilience.
And I know what to do… I’m going to find my friends who make me feel good, immerse myself in work again and give my husband a little attention. And, I’m going to relish and replay every memory of this fabulous week to lift me when I’m missing them most.
I was thrilled to find this New York Times article about How To Build Resilience In Midlife.
Each of these recommendations can be used in our daily lives, not just when there’s a crisis. I’m going to work my way through this list now that the kids are gone.
“Here are some of the ways you can build your resilience in middle age.
■ Practice Optimism. Optimism is part genetic, part learned. So if you were born into a family of Eeyores, you can still find your inner Tigger. Optimism doesn’t mean ignoring the reality of a dire situation. After a job loss, for instance, many people may feel defeated and think, “I’ll never recover from this.” An optimist would acknowledge the challenge in a more hopeful way, saying, “This is going to be difficult, but it’s a chance to rethink my life goals and find work that truly makes me happy.”
While it sounds trivial, thinking positive thoughts and surrounding yourself with positive people really does help. Dr. Steven Southwick, a psychiatry professor at Yale Medical School and Dr. Charney’s co-author, notes that optimism, like pessimism, can be infectious. His advice: “Hang out with optimistic people.”
■ Rewrite Your Story.
Study after study has shown that we can benefit from reframing the personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. In expressive writing studies, college students taught to reframe their college struggles as a growth opportunity got better grades and were less likely to drop out. A Harvard study found that people who viewed stress as a way to fuel better performance did better on tests and managed their stress better physiologically than those taught to ignore stress.
“It’s about learning to recognize the explanatory story you tend to use in your life,” Dr. Southwick said. “Observe what you are saying to yourself and question it. It’s not easy. It takes practice.”
■ Don’t Personalize It. We have a tendency to blame ourselves for life’s setbacks and to ruminate about what we should have done differently. In the moment, a difficult situation feels as if it will never end. To bolster your resilience, remind yourself that even if you made a mistake, a number of factors most likely contributed to the problem and shift your focus to the next steps you should take.
“Telling yourself that a situation is not personal, pervasive or permanent can be extremely useful,” Dr. Grant said. “There is almost no failure that is totally personal.”