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When Bad Things Happen: Boost Your Resilience

How can you improve resilience? Bad things happen – it’s part of life; your relationship breaks down, you lose your job, you get sick, a friend betrays you. But how we react to these events is much more important than the event itself. So how can you increase your resilience to the bad stuff?

What are your thinking habits?

We all know people that seem to be able to bounce back quickly from seemingly devastating events. They are able to remain resilient and positive despite what has happened to them. What makes them different to those that tend to wallow in self-pity and sadness for an extended period? The difference is in the way they think about the circumstances of their life. Building resilience is about being able to put things into perspective.

Consider this example: You’re made redundant from a job that paid well and that you really enjoyed.  A person with unhealthy thinking habits (or ‘thinking errors‘ as some psychologists like to call them) might have these kinds of thoughts:

“How can they do this to me?” (blaming others)

“I’ll never get another job as good as this” (all-or-nothing thinking)

“This has ruined my life” (catastrophising)

Someone with healthier thinking habits is able to be more rational and constructive:

“The company has had to make some hard decisions to survive, but I know it’s not personal”

“Maybe I can use my redundancy money to upskill myself, and get a better job in the future”

“Although disappointing, this isn’t the end of the world for me”

Take charge of your thoughts

Getting into the habit of consciously monitoring your thinking at times of stress, recognising any destructive thoughts you may have, and turning them into more rational language, is the key to boosting resilience and reducing your negative feelings about a bad event. Once this happens, instead of ruminating about your terrible life, you’re free to explore your options and take constructive action to make things better.

It’s all about perspective

When something bad happens, it may only really affect a single aspect of your life, even though it feels like it affects everything. If you’re able to mentally separate the incident from the rest of your life, it will help you to put it into perspective. Let’s say you have a relationship break-up.  Should this incident really have a negative effect on how well you do your job, or your relationship with your family, or your daily exercise routine? Recognise that your life is made up of many different things, and just because you are having issues in one area, doesn’t mean you have to let it contaminate everything.

So the next time something bad happens to you, put it into perspective, focus on what you want, and get on with your life.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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