Resilience: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
Resiliency is a tough ass topic and is so unique to each persons experiences and how they move through them that there isn't really a path to becoming more resilient, besides committing to the continual growth of oneself. If it challenges you, it changes you. And the more challenge we experience the more we begin to trust ourselves with the ability to take on challenging circumstances.
I have had several experiences that could have been the end of my life. Those experiences have been what forms my "fuck around, find out" attitude. Part of my process for these events was to imagine worse case scenario and talk myself through that.
I am certain that I know myself, and that I am a survivor and that at the very least I could make any attackers life miserable in the event they attack me.
This is the mentality that I work to teach people everyday. To trust yourself to overcome, regardless of the difficulty. You are stronger than you think you are.
This tool can simultaneously change the way that our nervous system handles stress while building a greater threshold for stress management.
Most of you have heard me talk about the 4 parts of the breath and how each one of them can help balance the nervous system. Pushing the thresholds of our breath is up to us. There may be moments in a practice where panic sets in because it is uncomfortable, and in those moments we have to decide what is best for us at that time.
Do we let go of the ratio because it is stressing us out too much, or do we sit with it and see what is on the other side of the discomfort?
The answer varies from day to day, and so does our ability to recognize the answer. Sometimes we fck it up, and sometimes we will never know if we made the right choice. But the resiliency comes from the ability to navigate the conversation about the personal expectations you have, and whether to give yourself some compassion or push yourself past your threshold, (we will navigate the topic of how to know, next week), over and over again.
Expectation is not the root of all evil. It exists whether we like it or not. However, it can direct us into deeper states of stress when we rely upon our expectations being met too often.
Compassion is a great tool for de-stressing. It can also slide into an unhealthy habit of dismissal when we are not careful with it.
Everything has its boundaries of good and evil, inappropriate and appropriate, healthy or unhealthy. If we are too hard on ourselves all the time then it is important that we learn to exercise compassion and find a gentler approach to our well being. This will create discomfort and push us to grow in different ways.
If we have a lot of expectations for ourselves and not enough follow through on those expectations then we are more likely to project our unmet expectations onto others.
At this point you might be asking what compassion and expectations has to do with becoming resilient... I know I am even asking myself that question. But, the answer is that we are learning to navigate our own mind and have challenging conversations first with ourselves, and then eventually with others. The ability to communicate is a key ingredient to feeling a deeper sense of self worth. And not just communicating your feelings all the time, but processing your feelings and implementing tools that help you process so that when you communicate, it is effective.
This best tool that you can have.
No matter how good you are at it, it isn't always going to be easy. And if you are not good at it at all, then your life is going to be much harder. So it is absolutely worth all the growing pains it brings. There are a lot of ways to improve communication.
Reading books about it is one of my favorites. Then implementing the skills I read about with people I absolutely trust. This helps build confidence in the exchanges you may have with other people.
Resiliency and self trust are a lifelong process, it has to begin somewhere, but it is always evolving.
For. The. Rest. Of. Your. Life.
CHANGING YOUR PERSPECTIVE IS DIFFICULT WHEN IT IS ALL YOU HAVE EVER KNOWN
"If we make up our minds about where something will lead us and what category it lives in, it takes away the opportunities that exist inside of our experiences. The truth is we do not know where most of our choices will lead us in the long term, so determining whether they are good or bad or a success or a failure is a fleeting sense of control."
This is a blurb from last weeks newsletter where we looked at how we tend to compartmentalize things into good, bad, success, or failure and make our choices based off of those categories.
It is important to know that the brain is built to solve problems, and that if your problems are mostly solved it will make up stories based off of past experiences and future fears. It will use categories like good or bad to "predict" outcomes. This prediction gives us a sense of safety which can help us function better.
The truth of life, (and a hard pill to swallow), is that predictions towards safety are rough waters to
navigate because there truly is no guarantee. Acceptance of this become an even bigger challenge if you have experienced a significant violent life trauma. However, it is not impossible.
"If we make up our minds about where something will lead us and what category it lives in, it takes away the opportunities that exist inside of our experiences."
The desire to predict our experiences and outcomes is rooted in the fear of something bad happening or experiencing a particular failure. However, when we predict the outcome, either because we reap what we sow or there was a sub conscious interpretation of patterns, we validate our experience and groove that neural network deeper into our brains.
What that deeper groove means is that you only have a firmer belief in the prediction and increase the likelihood of perpetuating the outcome.
If you have you ever wondered why you keep experiencing similar circumstances with different people or environments, this is why. Because you are the constant in those circumstances, and you have repeatable habits.
When we first begin thinking about this idea of accountability, it is usually quite stressful because we immediately jump to an "I should" ideology. It is important to remember that you are human, and the mechanical system that you operate off of is firing as it is supposed too. There are tools you can implement to help you with this, but it will not change overnight.
"The truth is we do not know where most of our choices will lead us in the long term, so determining whether they are good or bad or a success or a failure is a fleeting sense of control."
We do not have to know the outcome of each event to feel safe. This is perfectly ok. Even if it feels uncomfortable. Remember that growth is on the other side of your comfort zone.
A better use of our time and resources would be to look at building a more resilient sense of self, (we will look at this next week), so that we feel more confident in the endurance of challenge. Whether that be physical, mental, or emotional. If we can build a sense of trust with ourselves, we will feel less necessity for our external environment to be perfect so that we feel perfect.
The good, bad, successful, or failure playing field is leveled because our ego is not as tied up in how deeply this will reflect back on us because we know we are doing the work needed to detach from perfect outcomes and we can learn to ease into more enjoyment and problem solving behavior rather than avoidance.
These concepts can be challenging to grasp at first and that is ok. Oftentimes it is a seed that gets planted and over the course of years begins to take shape into something much more powerful.
Good. Bad. Succeed. Fail.
How each one of these sits with you will depend on your end goal of what you are striving for and your perspective of what each of these words means to you.
Recently I was dealing with an injury in Jiu Jitsu and was not comfortable pushing it into competition mode. Since competing is a large part of how I direct myself mentally and physically I noticed myself feeling moody, distracted, overwhelmed while at the same time under stimulated. This is a recipe for disaster (for me) and screams high school all over again. I eventually went to one of my coaches and said "Hey, I need some direction and since it cannot be competition right now I am wondering what I can work on in training to work towards getting my purple belt".
(Approaching my coach alone required a certain level of awareness on my behalf but it could be noted that when we are feeling any of the aforementioned emotions, we are likely suffering from boredom and lack of direction)
My coach came back with some techniques that I can work on in class as well as where he sees me lacking in my mentality.
The conversation gave me perspective, purpose, and something to work towards. I could implement his advice every day in both my personal and training life.
Many times we get stuck on the story that lives inside our heads. We begin to categorize things into good/successful or bad/failure. It is this kind of tunnel vision that leads us to living inside a bunch of "shoulda's" and often keeps us frozen with indecision.
Flexible thinking allows us to see outside the lines of these categories and feel more freedom in our choices.
There is a Chinese parable that illustrates this well.
If we make up our minds about where something will lead us and what category it lives in, it takes away the opportunities that exist inside of our experiences. The truth is we do not know where most of our choices will lead us in the long term, (we will talk about this next week), so determining whether they are good or bad or successful or failures is a fleeting sense of control. If I had not been hurt and floundering around restlessly inside of my own head, I would have never been so uncomfortable that I went to my coach looking for changes. Which means that the hard conversation would have never happened. Which means that I wouldn't have deepened the trust that I have within my position on the team and I would not have developed focused goal both physically and mentally.
Ultimately if we do not know where we want to go with things in our life, be it training, relationships, career, hobbies, living situations, and self development; we lack direction.
Goals and building self awareness is a very good reason to have a coach or a therapist.
Stepping outside of your head and getting a professional opinion about what you are feeling and thinking is invaluable. Otherwise the chances that you will maintain categories that are a product of habit, (from your experiences and environment), will continue to influence your perspective even when you think you have a good handle on things.
It is important to have goals in mind.
It is important to have perspective on your goals.
It is important to think in small steps that lead to a bigger picture.
But most importantly, it is important to have the self awareness to recognize when we can handle things on our own and when we need to gather the troops to help us out.