Tim Butler

Counselor, Life Coach & Speaker

Filtering by Tag: resiliency

Resiliency (Part 3)

Finally, concluding the theme of building up you cumulative reserves to be able to better withstand life’s ongoing pressures, I submit the next 4 ideas. Refer back to the first 2 blogs for the first 6 items already on the list. Again, as you read this, look for those areas that seem to resonate best with your lifestyle and expectation, and seek to apply them to your life. Remember, if nothing changes, nothing will change.

7. Keep hope alive. When we lose hope we lose everything. Hope will test our existential foundation, namely, what we believe to be the meaning life. We find strength in hope. However, it is not always easy to generate hope when reality looks hopeless. Our emotions play a huge role in remaining hopeful even in the face of evidence to the contrary. We cannot deny our emotions, but we also should not deify them. Remaining hopeful means we need to look at the wider picture, as stated in my earlier blogs. Friends and loved ones can help us look beyond our emotions and get a healthier perspective. Metaphorically rising above our immediate circumstances to get a wider view will show us where hope is still alive. Again, when we lose hope, we lose everything.

8. Build/Improve relationships. We were created for relationships. Married people live longer than singe folks. “Two are better than one”, to quote a Biblical passage. I am continually amazed when patients share their deep wounds or struggles with me, and then inform me that no one else knows what I now know. How sad, I think to myself, to be so lonely. Things can definitely become darker if no one else is in our dark room of life with us. Clearly not just anyone, but that special person or two that has the ability to listen, and when appropriate, give truthful counsel. Getting another person’s perspective allows us to gain greater insight into something that may have seemed hopeless, or impossible. Reach out; it helps you to stay on track.

9. Develop self-confidence. We are doing both ourselves and our young children a grave injustice when we insist that we as parents are responsible for their self-confidence. Think about it; what is the only way you are totally certain that you can “climb a mountain” as it were? The obvious answer is, by doing it. Someone telling you that you have all the right stuff to accomplish that next thing can be good and helpful from a cheerleading standpoint, but not a self-confidence builder. It is all theoretical until we actually accomplish that thing. Kids are growing up thinking everyone is a winner. Sometimes adults still believe that. Unfortunately, that is not the case; there are losers in the game of life. The goal is to find that thing(s) in which you can be the winner, and work at perfecting that skill/talent, and thus develop a genuine confidence in yourself.

10. Keep your body, soul and spirit in shape. We all possess the same basic equipment from birth. First, our physical bodies that allows us to move, work, eat, play, etc. Next, our soul, or the place that allows us to have feelings and emotions. Finally, our spirit, or the element that gives meaning to life and allows us to find hope and significance. If any one of these three areas is out of balance, or not functioning properly, our entire being suffers. If we desire to stay resilient in the face of challenges, we do well to be purposeful about taking care of body, soul, and spirit. Physical exercise, emotional self-control, and spiritual exploration is the bare minimum for staying fit overall. The word I like using is intentionality. It seems to conjure up in my mind the direction of my life that I want, versus, letting mere chance run my existence. To be resilient, we need to be intentional.

Be strong: be resilient. Feel free to share with me your tips for resiliency; the possibilities are as varied as our personalities.

Resiliency (Part 2)

On the continuing theme of building up you cumulative reserves to be able to better withstand life’s ongoing pressures, I submit the next 3 ideas. For the first 3 items on the list, refer back to Resiliency (Part 1). Again, look for those areas that seem to resonate best with your lifestyle and expectation, and seek to apply them to your life. If nothing changes, nothing will change.

4. See crisis as opportunity to grow. Things happen to all of us from time to time. Some more sever and impacting than others. Regardless of the crisis, can we calm our emotions enough to process the event and learn from it? When my kids were younger and they would either make a mistake or experience something earth-shattering (age-appropriate), I would frequently ask them, “what did you learn from that”. What life-lesson can be drawn from the event? What can we do differently the next time? Accept the fact that some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue.

5. Look for self-discovery after the struggle/loss/crisis/event. It has been said that crisis builds character. More accurately though, crisis reveals character. Our character gets formed over time as we respond appropriately to life’s everyday events. When the big trauma hits us, we show what we are made of. Much like bumping a glass filled with liquid; what has been filled with spills out. Self-discovery is the ability to be introspective and realize the improvements that need to be made in our beliefs, values, or emotions. At the top of the list of necessary improvements, needs to be the element of self-control. When we lose that, we risk being taken over by life’s external pressures.

6. Look at the wider picture. Myopic views of life are limited in scope. We can easily make quick conclusions or decision with very minimal information, but experience teaches us that those decisions may not always be the best. Keeping with the resilient theme, if we are to position ourselves to withstand the daily pressures of life and stay strong, we need to look at the larger picture, or meaning, of life. Clearly, there are always details of our situation over which we have very limited knowledge. We may feel like we are the only ones suffering, until we take a look at others who have not only suffered as we, but have shown tremendous coping strategies. Wider views bring deeper knowledge and greater understanding. Let it not be said of you that you cannot see the forest for the trees. Rise above your situation and see the view from a wider angle. Accept the fact that some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue.

Resiliency (Part 1)

From my window of the world in the mental health profession, I get to listen to many folks on a very personal level. This degree of intimacy allows me the opportunity to witness the inner strength that others may simply pass by unaware. I stand continually amazed at the strength and internal fortitude exhibited by folks in downright disparaging situation. John Locke was reported to have said that internal “fortitude is the guard, and support, of the other virtues.”

I am also been privy to the inner struggles of folks who have seemingly no coping strategies for dealing with stressors of any magnitude. What is the difference? What makes one person reach down and drink from that well-spring of inner strength, while another, in a very similar situation, finds the ability to move on analogous to walking knee-deep in Jell-O.

It does seem the difference may be found in the individuals’ cumulative resiliency factors. Resiliency, the ability to adapt well to stress, adversity, trauma or tragedy, is enhanced when there are cumulative protective factors. Good habits.

A healthy level of resiliency is not reserved for the wealthy, or highly intelligent. No, in fact, it becomes effective, just as soon as you do. If you are older than 9, I am sure you have heard the well-worn quote of German philosopher Nietzsche; “That which does not kill you makes you stronger.” It would not be worth repeating if it were not so true. The key lies in asking yourself in what areas are you becoming stronger, more resilient? Let me suggest three for now; in the next blog I will add additional ones. A long list of suggestions is worthless if you do not apply what you find relevant to your life. So, consider…

1. Accept what you cannot change.  This expression is often coupled with the prayer to receive from the God the strength to change the things we can. Alcoholic Anonymous has used this well. So many things in life are not able to be altered by us (weather, death, some sicknesses, others changing their mind that negatively affects us, the state of the economy, etc.) We find it hard, at times, to accept the things that are being presented to us. We may not want them; we may feel it is not fair; it may go against our principals; in theory this unwanted “thing” should not work this way; and the list goes on. Whatever the reason, the outcome may still be the same…it is not going away anytime soon. The ability to release my grip and literally, or figuratively, walk away is foundational to strengthening my resiliency factors. A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

2. Set new goals. Once you can see clearly to accepting what you are not able to change, you then need new goals. Not necessarily life changing goals; baby steps are appropriate. If we do not set our minds on a new direction, we will simply be holding our breath, as it were, and waiting for the preferred way to reappear. That is not resiliency. That is stubbornly doing the wrong thing. I love working with stubborn people, once they have decided to use that strength in the right direction. What is the new direction in which you now need to walk? What would be small, attainable goals in that direction?

3. Take the necessary action. We can take a page from the Nike playbook: Just do it. There is so much empowerment in that statement. Good intentions are not sufficient. Food will not make its way into my stomach without the action of eating. Action keeps us from getting hopelessly stuck in the quagmire of life disappointments. Do something different, once you have determined what that one thing would be. Even if it ends up different than you planned, action still takes precedent over lethargy or apathy.