Time to bounce back

For the third article of the series looking at the truth behind the buzz about resilience, I’m going to examine bounce back.

In our model of resilience (below) bounce back is the way you recover from a setback, adapt and learn, and then move forward again. Put like that it may sound simple enough, but if you think about how you felt during any serious setback in your life, you’ll realise the reality is somewhat harder to achieve.

And yet there are examples all around us. Wherever there are difficulties or tragic events, there are tales of people who overcame them. War, natural disasters, disabling illnesses – there are inspirational stories about them all. Yet we do not have to experience a life altering crisis to be able to bounce back. Modern life provides us with plenty of challenges both at work and outside. They may be of a smaller scale, but they are still there to trip us up and knock us flat. Nelson Mandela once said: “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again”. Expecting that from time to time that you will fall down is actually an important part of developing bounce back.

One of my favourite ways of developing bounce back is using gratitude. It sounds a bit strange at first I’ll admit, but the weight of research evidence tells us that if we can spend a few minutes every day noting down a few things for which we are grateful, we begin to develop an inner strength that we can rely on when things are difficult. Gratitude makes us happier, healthier, and increases our sense of connection to others. When we are experiencing bad times the effects of gratitude are even stronger. It really does help us to recover from difficulty. Here is a great video looking at the science of this simple practice.

Another wonderful bounce back tool involves looking for the lessons that have come out of past difficulty. If you think of a bad time you have experienced in the past, ask yourself these simple questions: “What lessons can I take from this?”, “What did I learn about myself?”, and “What will this allow me to do differently in the future?”.

When we find meaning in a past difficulty, we show ourselves that it can have a positive impact for the future. The things we have learned, whether about our own strengths and abilities, or about the kindness of others, can help us recover more quickly when obstacles next appear. If we recall what we’ve learned, we can put it to good use. There is a saying I like very much, that I repeat to myself on a bad day.

“On rough days, when I’m sure I cannot endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through tough days so far is 100%.”

So, between now and the final article in the series, why not start noting down a few gratitude’s each day, and see how you feel. Write out the lessons past difficulties have taught you and remember your perfect track record in surviving them. Thank you for reading this.

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