Life is full of transition and we often think that being resilient means that we get through just about everything without getting ruffled.
Immune to depression or anxiety or any less than optimal state.
Well that’s just not true.
Life isn’t always optimal – it doesn’t make it easy.
And that’s not what resilience is about anyway.
Resilient people get through the same crap others go through and feel the same emotions… it’s just that the work they’ve done to balance their nervous system means that they stay within a manageable range.
And sometimes we don’t even have awareness of how we’re getting through transition – but it’s healthy to bring awareness to it and not just blindly push through times of uncertainty or transition.
In fact, it’s supposed to be uncomfortable – so why are we so hell bent on running away from that?
This is where we grow.
And if we’re not growing, we’re just reinforcing the resiliency we’ve already established.
How I used self regulation strategies to get through transition with my happiness in tact.
I went through a time of transition where some personal and professional setbacks had me totally focused on problem solving, taking action, setting new goals and moving through it.
I hunkered down.
(it’s a great term).
But when I was catching up with an old friend of mine and she asked “so are you happy?”
I had to think about it.
Did it mean I wasn’t happy?
I was happy – but I was in a time of stress and just coming through some big changes in my life and some hefty disappointments.
I had defaulted into survival mode a bit where though I was managing things very well, I was missing out on fun and vibrancy that I always want to be a part of my life.
My focus needed to be on creating alternatives and solving problems and being pro-active.
So it was…and I did.
In the midst of it did I feel sullen, depressed or anxious?
But did that mean I was functioning at optimal levels?
The question had me do a quick self assessment and see where I had done well in this transition, but also the areas that in my tunnel vision I had lost focus elsewhere.
Namely… nourishing myself – getting enough rest – and remembering to make time for fun.
It was a good time to check in before things went off balance and a good reminder that we should regularly be checking in to see what we need and make sure that when asked the question “are you happy?” that we know the answer and can readily address how to keep that in a healthy balance.
The bottom line is that not all transitions are fun and exciting – most are not.
“Hunkering down” can be serious and that’s often just necessity.
As you go through times that are more challenging here’s some things to remember to help you get through them with your happiness in tact…
1. Don’t over personalize…
Notice how the transition makes you feel and don’t be afraid to feel negative or less desirable emotions.
Don’t run away from them but don’t get stuck in them either.
Check your perspective and don’t get swallowed up so much in pushing through the moment that you lose sight of where you’re going.
Don’t make this all about you where everything has to be a lesson or something personal as either punishment or challenge.
Accept that sometimes things happen outside of your control and your job is to respond in a way that is appropriate and actionable in response.
Maintain your composure as you compartmentalize and realize that the transition is temporary.
If your nervous system isn’t regulated, connect with someone that can help you do that so you can move through times of challenge or transition with some support and balanced, accurate perceptions of the events of your life.
Outside events, other people – you don’t have control over these things.
Accept that and know this isn’t about you – depersonalize and get strategic with your plan of action to move forward.
Use this time for reflection and insight to move you into next steps.
2. Take action and move.
Take action quickly and consider combining that with a physical challenge.
A new workout, lifestyle goal, routine or schedule.
Do something different to change your physiology while you’re setting an action plan for your next steps.
Once you have reflected on the context you find yourself in, look forward.
What next steps, other options, future goals, forward focus excites you?
Who is in your life that makes you feel energized and positive and start auditing not just your circle of people, but the environments you place yourself in.
Refuse to exist in toxic environments or with unhealthy people.
In particular, people that don’t make you feel good to be around, people that are negative in your life, people that have helped to cause your current pain… remove the offenders and make room for better people!
Detach from anything that causes drama or intensity and be protective of your space and energy.
Surround yourself with support and encouragement and build depth in those relationshipsas you let others go.
3. Nourish your needs.
You are the expert of you.
Others will tell you what they think you should do – but if you don’t do what you need to do to nourish yourself during this time you’ll feel burnt out and unsatisfied.
Know what you need to be nourished and listen to your inner wisdom.
Stop opinion polling – what works for everyone else isn’t necessarily going to work for you… in fact it might be the opposite.
You know what you need.
And do it – without guilt.
No one else is going to take care of you – it’s only up to you so stop feeling bad about it.
Look at building in fun into your life even when it’s not a fun time.
Keep your eye on the bigger picture and protect your sense of optimism through forward motion.
Not everything you experience is supposed to be fun or bring you happiness – it’s unrealistic to think that it will. By gaining an accurate perspective of your life, not over personalizing everything, refusing to allow drama from yourself or those around you and knowing yourself well enough to be proactive in doing what you need to do to nourish yourself will protect your resilience. Reaching out to someone when you need extra support to do the work to regulate your nervous system will give you the stable platform you need to get through any times of transition and help you bounce back to your usual state of happiness quickly and easily.