Life is tough– there’s no one on Earth in their right mind that would disagree with that.
However, I’ve found that the conventional wisdom of “experience makes us stronger”, is a bit incorrect.
We can learn from many of our experiences throughout life and gain the resilience to weather even tougher challenges in the future as a result. However, whether we actually do this or not is largely based on your perspective and interpretation of events.
If you have the wrong perspective or are locked into a particular interpretation and can’t see any other possibility, you may very well take nothing from that experience.
To learn how to cultivate resilience in the face of life’s challenges, consistently, is a skill that has to be developed. But if you can do so, you’ll be far stronger in virtually every way because of it and able to weather the storm of life and come out happier and more at peace because of it.
Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.
– Margaret Thatcher
Resilience, and general mental toughness, isn’t like weightlifting. If you lift a weight, you gain physical strength in those muscles which helped lift the weight.
However, unlike physical strength, resilience is harder to cultivate. Without the proper perspective and tools in place, you won’t gain the mental strength available to you from the metaphorical lifting of the weight (life’s experiences).
To do that, you need a few things in place. This is how to effectively build resilience in the face of life’s challenges:
Step 1: Cultivate self-awareness
Before you can ever hope to siphon strength from life’s many challenges, you need a good base of self-awareness from which to operate.
Without this, you can fall into a trap of the ego, thinking that everything which happens to you is someone else’s fault, bad luck, or a result of some other factor and that if only things would fall into place, you’d be fine.
Think of self-awareness as the foundation. With enough self-awareness, you can see clearly and therefore aren’t fooled by bias or skewed perceptions. Whether we find strength in life’s challenges is a matter of how we look at those challenges– and the only way to change our perspective is through cultivating self-awareness.
Step 2: Accept when you’re wrong (see through bias)
Once you’ve developed enough self-awareness, it’s important that as you move through life you don’t just have the ability to see clearly, but that you’re also able to accept the truth of a situation.
You might see things clearly, but if you’re unable to admit to yourself when you’ve made a mistake, you’ll never gain strength from that experience. What’s worse, you’ll have begun conditioning a very bad, and unfortunately very common, habit: blaming the world for your problems.
Step 3: Find strength in your vulnerability
It’s counterintuitive to conventional wisdom, but by opening up and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, we gain great strength. This is the last and final piece to building resilience– the kind of resilience that can’t be broken.
Admittedly, resilience is a bit of a broad term. It can refer to both our ability to persist through to completion on a task as well as the ability to stand strong in the face of challenges.
However, every shade of the term comes down to one thing: a fundamental belief in ourselves and confidence in our understanding of the world around us. And in every case, it’s this willingness to open up and be vulnerable that allows us to develop that necessary belief in ourselves.
For most of us, this is a very uncomfortable thing to do. However, the opportunities are plentiful in our daily life. The most common ones are situations or activities in which we can express ourselves, which includes everything from deciding what to wear each day all the way up to what path we pursue in our career.
It’s commonly believed that we learn and grow stronger based on our experiences, but this isn’t necessarily true. However, by following these steps, you will be able to cultivate the ideal environment for developing resilience in the face of life’s challenges.
Life is tough, there’s no doubt about it. But you can either make it tougher or easier for yourself based on your own actions. Use these steps to start developing a foundation of resilience within yourself that allows you to face life’s challenges and come out the other end happier and healthier.