Guest Blog for Mental Health Week by Holly Matthews
You want to understand how I bounce back from challenges, from my husbands diagnosis of brain cancer, of his death, of my 2 premature babies and stint in special care, of autoimmune disease and the challenge of being a working single parent? Resilience. Resilience is the art of bouncing back, of walking yourself through challenges and not giving up. It’s the ability to recover quickly from difficulties and to potentially even come back stronger.
Resilience is something that can be learnt and not something for a tiny, select few.
Being resilient doesn’t mean not feeling the pain or frustration of a situation, it means feeling these things appropriately and then finding ways to cope and to walk through whatever is going on.
You are resilient, even if you don’t feel like it at times, you are. I have no doubt that you have gone through some stuff in your life already and you have walked through it. I bet there have been things that have happened in your life that you really didn’t imagine you would get through, BUT YOU DID.
“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
- Flexible thinking. Have strong goals and plans but be flexible in your thinking and way of executing these, be willing to move, pivot and change the way you work to suit your reality. One of my fav quotes by Charles Darwin sums it up perfectly: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent but the ones most adaptable to change!”
- Build relationships and connections. During our times of trouble or challenge, the relationships we have with others can greatly impact our level of bounce back and being able to pull ourselves through.
Our nearest and dearest can be there to allow us our moments of vulnerability, the moments when we open up and about our fears and worries and this is an important part of us facing where we are currently at.
Another important part of building your resilience is helping others. While your are helping others it can strengthen you too. I know from my own hardships that helping 100’s of people across the globe has most definitely helped me too. By helping others we get what can be referred to as a ‘helpers high’ and that pulls us through too.
- Accept your current reality. “Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be.” ~Sonia Ricotti
When it comes to resilience one of the most important traits of resilient people is their ability to accept their current reality, to look the tiger in the eye and sometimes face the raw brutal truth of their situation.
I’m a positive human being, I look for the good and I seek it out around the bad, but I’m also a realist and I have found that sugar coating tough situations actually prolongs my suffering. If I sugar coat it, or I’m overly optimistic avoiding the facts of a situation, then I am almost inevitably going to face disappointment and loss. When my husband Ross died for example I didn’t refer to his death as the ‘loss’ of my husband or that he had ‘passed away’, these are ways for us to soften the blow and I knew that in order for me to truly accept what had happened, I had to say that he had died. It was almost like every time I said it, I faced the reality head on and found my acceptance. That of course doesn’t mean I’m happy with the reality, or that I don’t feel pain around it, but I have been able to move forward because I haven’t grasped at something I cannot change.
Many people slip into denial as a coping mechanism and jeez, no judgement here guys, we do what we do, with what we have and facing reality, truly facing it head on is painful work and emotionally raw, but I promise you that when you accept your current reality it gives space to find new solutions and ways through.
Also lets not confuse acceptance with helplessness, I am NOT saying you have to be passive or still, I’m not saying you can’t move yourself out of your current reality. Once you face the truth it’s amazing how many ways you can see to walk yourself through to the next stage of your life.
- Trying to find purpose and meaning in our lives has been a trait of human beings since time began and I’m pretty confident always will be. One of the fundamentals of resilience is the capacity to find meaning in the most terrible of times.
Finding meaning is all about the questions you are asking yourself.
Turbulent times shake us up like nothing else ever will and they pull at the threads of our current life. If there are parts of your life that perhaps weren’t important to you anymore (or aren’t now since the difficult time), if there are people that are no longer serving you, or parts of your own personality that need to change, you may find that the tough times mean those parts of your life just begin to come away.
- Who do you want that to be?
- How do you want to show up in the future?
These moments can feel (if you allow them) transformative and as if the slate has been wiped clean.
- Cry. When was the last time you had a really GOOD cry? Today? Yesterday? Ten years ago? And I mean a good cry, the runny nosed, blotchy eyed, wailing sobs? If you have had to thinking about this for very long, the answer is that its BEEN too long.
Crying is important. Its a release and it’s also a proven way to lift your mood. Allowing yourself space to cry, without judgement is a really important step in moving forward to the next stage. Its like a proper clearing out of your mind.
Don’t ever be embarrassed about this nor think this means you are failing at this positive thinking and resilience lark.
Allow yourself moments to recognise the stuff you’re going through and be kind enough to yourself that you let yourself feel.
Sometimes in our lives (probably way more than once) life is going to get a bit tough and shitty. You might be slap bang in the middle of this chaos right now. I’m confident you can remember another time in your life when you had a pretty big challenge to deal with. Something which felt hard, maybe it made you cry and you didn’t think you’d come out of the other side.
Now remember that you DID. You came out the other side and you had learnt some stuff and when you come out of the other side of this current moment, you will have a whole new set of skills too.
My three favourite mantras are “I got this!” “Whatever it takes” and Marie Forleos “Everything is figureoutable! (which I have as a screen saver on my phone)
Please feel free to steal these and say them to yourself on loop. You have got this! Whatever this is and you’re going too be just fine.
To learn more about me:
Www.facebook.com/groups/thehappymeproject (FREE GROUP)
The Happy Me project 1: https://iamhollymatthews.zippycourses.com/course/thehappymeproject/
The Happy Me Project 2- https://iamhollymatthews.zippycourses.com/course/iamconfident
Collab with By Laura Ella