Your question: “How can I become more resilient when I deal with difficult life issues?”
That’s a really good question. Let me talk about some specific things that resilient people do. This comes from research by professionals who have spent their lifetime studying resilient people. In particular, I’ll be referring to Dr. Al Siebert’s work. He has a book titled The Resiliency Advantage. Dr. Siebert studied resilient people for over 40 years and he’s identified specific things that resilient people do to develop more resiliency. He believes that we can all develop more resiliency in our own lives.
How does he suggest that we do that? Your question is something that he’s spent his lifetime studying. Here’s what he came up with.
People who are resilient are open-minded. What he means by that is that there’s a curiosity inside of them. They’re willing to learn. They’re willing to grow.
A researcher, Carol Dweck, has a book called Mindset. In her book, she talks about two different mindsets. One is what she calls the fixed mindset. The fixed mindset is something that can’t be changed—”Either I’m good at something and I get it or I just don’t get it and I’m not good at it.” Those individuals, once they get it in their mind that they can’t do something, stop trying.
Those with a growth mindset actually say, “I can do it. I’ll find the solution and I’m going to work it out.” They will spend time on a puzzle, a math problem, or a skill like playing the piano or shooting baskets. They’ll work at it and they will work at it and they will work at it, until it becomes something that they’re very proficient at.
Resilient people find solutions. They never give up. They find a way to become better and overcome their challenges. That’s the growth mindset versus the fixed mindset. People who succeed are literally coming up with this growth mindset where they say, “I’ll find a solution.”
Consider this mindset: “When I deal with adversity, I think, ‘I can’t do this. It’s too hard. There’s just no way I’ll be able to make it,'” or do you have an open mind and say, “I don’t know the answer, but I’m going to find out how to solve it?” There’s a significant difference in those two approaches.
You will find that as you keep an open-mind, you will begin to develop good problem solving skills. Remember, you develop them! It’s not something that we are innately born with. The way we develop problem-solving skills is with openness and continual learning. That really is a key concept, to become curious. We might ask ourselves the question, “What is the solution or what are possible solutions?” not, “This is so hard. The world is against me.” People who are resilient believe in solutions. They focus on solutions and then they find and act upon what comes into their mind.
In closing, I highly recommend Dr. Siebert’s book, The Resiliency Advantage. He lists over 20 questions for you to consider when determining your own resiliency.
He looks for adapting quickly, being playful, and tolerating high levels of uncertainty and ambiguity. He looks at being optimistic and staying calm in crisis. Those are traits of resilient people. Those are skills that he has found that we can actually develop–when we keep the right mindset!
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