Empowering Changemakers to Become the Mapmakers of their Visions

Building Resilience when we Inevitably Slip-up in 2019!

I chuckled earlier this week when “swoosh”, an email went out to a client wrapping up a communication about a situation that had her spiraling down. It said, “That’s the spirit! Find your shoes and pick up the kids!”

“Shoes” were mostly a metaphor to put her attention back into her own life rather than comparing it to a hotshot relative, decades younger, who seemed to have it all: career, relationship and international travel. You know, the unsettling feelings that come when comparing ourselves to others.
And “Picking up the kids “wasn’t even her own kids, but a favor for a friend. It meant taking action; shifting her energy from going down the drain of a self-critical spiral and doing something concrete and tangible. She was very clear she was doing it for herself! Good for her! I thought this was a great turnaround to the inevitable new year’s plummet!
New year’s tends to bring to mind; a clean slate, new beginnings, intentions, resolutions, vision boards, hopes and dreams. However, it occurred to me that building resilience when we slip up, could be one of the most valuable tools to stay on our path in 2019. It’s simply inevitable we will make mistakes, not live up to our expectations, disappoint someone or go into a downward spiral for some reason or other. What is your ability to turn this around?
Whether at work, or in our personal lives, the more we show-up for others or ourselves, the more opportunity there is to slip-up! If you’re on a path of growth and positive change, you will inevitably face obstacles, some inner, some outer. Regardless, do you have a bag-of-tricks that enable you to be resilient in the face of triggers, disappointments and even f’ing up on occasion?
Personally, I made a big shift in 2018, and it’s part of what had me end the year feeling like it was a good one. Finally, after over 50 years, I am learning to be more gentle and kind to myself.
In the past, my self-critical voice controlled the show. Somewhere very young I learned that blaming myself when something went wrong, was the only acceptable option. It was not okay to get angry at others, so I learned to turn this inward on myself. I developed an inner aspect that resembled a strict schoolmaster with a whipping stick, ready to beat me into shape, so I’d perform better, or be a better person.

However, in truth, being anything but kind to myself is often the beginning of a downward spiral that can lead to a bummed-out evening, negative self-talk or numbing myself in one way or another. 

My personal ability to be more resilient has enabled a huge increase in productivity. I have less down or recovery time because I’m not going to such low places inside myself. I’m able to take more risks to reach out or show up and more confident and able to learn-by-doing, which means not wasting so much time trying to make things perfect. 
I think we each need to find our own way and likely it involves a variety of tools that can help us to “put on our shoes” so we can be resilient and move forward in the face of adversity.
The point here is: 
Are you able to notice when you are upset and when it might be time for a turnaround? The first step is awareness; to notice that you are triggered. (Our human default is to go into reaction without even knowing we are doing it!)
Once you notice, can you be gentle and kind to yourself before doing anything else?
Have you experimented to find the actions, such as practicing kindness with yourself, that enable you to be resilient?
Do you use your bag-of-tools in the moment you are reacting? 

Here are some tools in my Resilience Tool Bag:

  • Don’t immediately respond to a text (email, interaction) that is triggering! I give it a few hours or even days, so I can cool off, identify my triggers and get clarity on how to respond (or not).
  • Notice where I shut down in my body such as: holding my breath, tightening or collapsing my shoulders or numbing. I take some deep breaths into the tight areas and imagine the tension releasing as I exhale.
  • Notice when I am triggered and do my best to label the emotion and the physical sensations that go with it. For example: “I feel really upset and out-of-control right now. I feel anxiety in my belly and anger in my arms.”.
  • Put a soothing hand onto the body part where the tender or tight emotion lives (such as my belly or heart). I take a few breaths in and out, and send soothing energy to these body parts.
  • Say simple self-soothing statements: “It’s gonna to be okay”, “I’m here with you for as long as you need”, “You did your best…” etc. I do not try and fix or change the part that is upset. I am simply there with her.
  • Move my body! Exercise can shift my experience profoundly.
  • “Pick up the kids”, clean the house, take a shower, see a client, help a friend, do something very tangible.
  • Be especially kind to myself when I am not feeling well, tired, hungry or stressed.
  • Call a friend to talk with when I’m unusually triggered and ask for their listening or help.

 What are some of your tricks and tools that enable you to be resilient in the face of adversity?