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Resilience

Resilience – Super Glue of the Psyche

tree of hope

You know you are having one of those months when the crow’s feet have turned into vulture’s claws, when your sense of humour has completely failed you and you feel like you are stuck in some bizarre combination of the twilight zone and groundhog day.

You get times like that don’t you? My current blame du jour are the retrogrades, that those in the know predicted would throw all unfinished business and all that has been emotionally papered over, into deep fractures.

Change is one of life’s inevitabilities and as much as we are digging the vintage vibe or doing the ostrich thing to the stuff we can’t bear; change is the only constant.  We are all having to dig deep these days. Not just profoundly into our pockets but into our psyches too, to help mend and make do and get through in these volatile and uncertain times.

Redundancy, relationship crises, health issues and financial worries are becoming an increasing life burden for all of us. When the future is foggy, we struggle to find an anchor to keep us from feeling like we are drifting aimlessly and uncontrollably. We want black and white answers when those 50 rainbow shades offer an overwhelming and altogether unsexy prospect.

So, the buzzword to hold on to is Resilience.

Simply put, it is the ability to dig deep within ourselves to find that reserve of energy and resolve we need to help us through the tough times. Resilience is a skill and it can be practiced just like practicing to play a musical instrument or a sport.

Easier said than done for many, especially when you feel like jelly and you find yourself on shaky ground. Where is that strength you need to draw upon?

It is right there at the core of your being. You must have faith in your own instincts and abilities which will help guide you along the way. Digging deep into hitherto unknown reserves of self is what Japanese author Haruki Murakami writes about in his book on spirituality, philosophy and marathons What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

Keeping the goal in mind and consistently reminding yourself that things will get better; as you take baby steps each day towards it. Coaching is great for this. Ordinarily we seldom, if ever, need to dig that deep for our everyday lives. It is however, worth creating systems which you can turn to when you feel the ground shaking and your nerve is heading for the Exit with someone else’s coat.

Here are a few coaching tips to help consolidate Resilience.

  • Maintain good relationships with your family and friends. Accept their help in times of stress. Offer help to those who are less fortunate than you are – and YES there are always others in a worse situation than you are. Give generously and earnestly, especially when you feel you have little to give. We feel at our best when we are able to help those less able than ourselves. The smallest act of kindness done in earnest will open the door of abundance.
  • Try to look at the big picture of life and avoid viewing difficult times as insurmountable. Take small steps toward your goals and take one day at a time. Avoid the pitfall of trying to solve tomorrow’s problems today. Deal with what you can deal with today, do it well – tomorrow is not guaranteed. Stay focused on what you can manage today, right here, right now. Remember there are things you can control and there are things you cannot. So do what you can do, manage what you can manage and keep moving forward.
  • Accept that change is a part of life and acceptance of what is – is key. Keep working toward your goals every day, and keep asking yourself “What can I do today to move in the direction I need to go in? Small consistent acts in the right directly get results.
  • Maintain a positive view of life and visualize what you want. When we feel like our resolve is fading, often times our energy levels tend to wax and wane as well. It is critical at these points to take care of yourself. Eat well, sleep and exercise to keep yourself healthy – even if you only do a quarter of what you would normally do. This is especially important during times of stress. There will always be an obstacle or hurdle that we will need to navigate in our lives. Learn to navigate these hurdles with confidence in your own abilities is key. Fear and anxiety will always rear their heads – it’s perfectly okay to recognise that you are fearful or anxious. The trick however is to not allow it to paralyse you into inaction.
  • Make the Decision to Prevail. This too shall pass. As the Good times come and go so too, do the Bad times. Nothing is permanent – as sure as day follows night these periods of volatility and uncertainty will pass.

 

Being resilient does not mean that we do not experience difficulty or distress, emotional  pain or sadness. Resilience involves the behaviours, thoughts and actions that we can learn and develop to navigate the emotional distress. Learn and practice self-compassion and recognize that everyone suffers. Being gentle and kind to yourself is a much more effective road to healing. If your best friend were going through a rough time you would be kind and gentle with them; NOW go and do the same thing for yourself.

Another sure-fire way of developing some psyche superglue is to hire a coach. Book your 30-minute trial telephone session today by emailing me at renatafester@career-coach.co.za

 

 

Change your thinking

4 Short Stories that Will Change the Way You Think

The past week has been an interesting one, filled with both joy and sorrow.  As is want to happen the new week arrived in all its magnificence and serendipitously, I found these Four Stories that gave me pause to reflect. These are old familiar stories and you have probably read them before with slightly different people and contexts however the lessons remain the same.

Change your thinking
Change your Thinking

Story #1:  All the Difference in The World

Every Sunday morning I take a light jog around a park near my home.  There’s a lake located in one corner of the park.  Each time I jog by this lake, I see the same elderly woman sitting at the water’s edge with a small metal cage sitting beside her.

This past Sunday my curiosity got the best of me, so I stopped jogging and walked over to her.  As I got closer, I realized that the metal cage was in fact a small trap.  There were three turtles, unharmed, slowly walking around the base of the trap.  She had a fourth turtle in her lap that she was carefully scrubbing with a spongy brush.

“Hello,” I said.  “I see you here every Sunday morning.  If you don’t mind my nosiness, I’d love to know what you’re doing with these turtles.”

She smiled.  “I’m cleaning off their shells,” she replied.  “Anything on a turtle’s shell, like algae or scum, reduces the turtle’s ability to absorb heat and impedes its ability to swim.  It can also corrode and weaken the shell over time.”

“Wow!  That’s really nice of you!” I exclaimed.

She went on: “I spend a couple of hours each Sunday morning, relaxing by this lake and helping these little guys out.  It’s my own strange way of making a difference.”

“But don’t most freshwater turtles live their whole lives with algae and scum hanging from their shells?” I asked.

“Yep, sadly, they do,” she replied.

I scratched my head.  “Well then, don’t you think your time could be better spent?  I mean, I think your efforts are kind and all, but there are freshwater turtles living in lakes all around the world.  And 99% of these turtles don’t have kind people like you to help them clean off their shells.  So, no offense… but how exactly are your localized efforts here truly making a difference?”

The woman giggled aloud.  She then looked down at the turtle in her lap, scrubbed off the last piece of algae from its shell, and said, “Sweetie, if this little guy could talk, he’d tell you I just made all the difference in the world.”

The moral:  You can change the world – maybe not all at once, but one person, one animal, and one good deed at a time.  Wake up every morning and pretend like what you do makes a difference.  It does.  (Read 29 Gifts.)

its all about Perspective
Perspective

Story #2:  The Weight of the Glass

Once upon a time a psychology professor walked around on a stage while teaching stress management principles to an auditorium filled with students.  As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” question.  Instead, with a smile on her face, the professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

Students shouted out answers ranging from eight ounces to a couple pounds.

She replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter.  It all depends on how long I hold it.  If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light.  If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little.  If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor.  In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”

As the class shook their heads in agreement, she continued, “Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water.  Think about them for a while and nothing happens.  Think about them a bit longer and you begin to ache a little.  Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”

The moral:  It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses and worries.  No matter what happens during the day, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down.  Don’t carry them through the night and into the next day with you.  If you still feel the weight of yesterday’s stress, it’s a strong sign that it’s time to put the glass down.  (Angel and I discuss this process of letting go in the Adversity and Self-Love chapters of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

Story #3:  Shark Bait

During a research experiment a marine biologist placed a shark into a large holding tank and then released several small bait fish into the tank.

As you would expect, the shark quickly swam around the tank, attacked and ate the smaller fish.

The marine biologist then inserted a strong piece of clear fiberglass into the tank, creating two separate partitions. She then put the shark on one side of the fiberglass and a new set of bait fish on the other.

Again, the shark quickly attacked.  This time, however, the shark slammed into the fiberglass divider and bounced off.  Undeterred, the shark kept repeating this behavior every few minutes to no avail.  Meanwhile, the bait fish swam around unharmed in the second partition.  Eventually, about an hour into the experiment, the shark gave up.

This experiment was repeated several dozen times over the next few weeks.  Each time, the shark got less aggressive and made fewer attempts to attack the bait fish, until eventually the shark got tired of hitting the fiberglass divider and simply stopped attacking altogether.

The marine biologist then removed the fiberglass divider, but the shark didn’t attack.  The shark was trained to believe a barrier existed between it and the bait fish, so the bait fish swam wherever they wished, free from harm.

The moral:  Many of us, after experiencing setbacks and failures, emotionally give up and stop trying. Like the shark in the story, we believe that because we were unsuccessful in the past, we will always be unsuccessful. In other words, we continue to see a barrier in our heads, even when no ‘real’ barrier exists between where we are and where we want to go.  (Read The Road Less Traveled.)

Changing Seasons

Story #4:  Being and Breathing

One warm evening many years ago…

After spending nearly every waking minute with Angel for eight straight days, I knew that I had to tell her just one thing.  So late at night, just before she fell asleep, I whispered it in her ear.  She smiled – the kind of smile that makes me smile back –and she said, “When I’m seventy-five and I think about my life and what it was like to be young, I hope that I can remember this very moment.”

A few seconds later she closed her eyes and fell asleep.  The room was peaceful – almost silent.  All I could hear was the soft purr of her breathing.  I stayed awake thinking about the time we’d spent together and all the choices in our lives that made this moment possible.  And at some point, I realized that it didn’t matter what we’d done or where we’d gone.  Nor did the future hold any significance.

All that mattered was the serenity of the moment.

Just being with her and breathing with her.

The moral:  We must not allow the clock, the calendar, and external pressures to rule our lives and blind us to the fact that each individual moment of our lives is a beautiful mystery and a miracle – especially those moments we spend in the presence of a loved one.

Your turn…

How do you think differently today, than you once did?  What life experience or realization brought on a significant change in your way of thinking?  Please leave a comment below and share your story with us.

What is an Ideal Self and How to achieve it?

Who is your hero?  ‘I thought about it and answered…”it’s me in ten years time”. Ten years late I was asked the same question by the same person Who is your hero? ‘Again I thought about it and answered…”it’s me in ten years time” – Mathew McConaughey

What Exactly is an Ideal Self?

An ideal self is an ideal future version of “you” that encompasses your personality, beliefs, values, and behaviour under various conditions. It can be summarized in the following way:

My ideal self is who I want to become… the best version of myself in every situation.

The “ideal you” is, therefore “you”. However it is not the person you are today, but rather the person you are striving to become tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, and so on.

This ideal self is not a state of perfection; it is not a fixed destination or a finished product. In fact, it is far from it. This ideal self is constantly evolving and changing, and as such is somewhat elusive in nature.

Your ideal self should always be several steps ahead of who you are today. When you do become that ideal version of yourself at some point in the future, the ideal version of “you” at that point should have changed. Therefore you should still be in pursuit of this ideal self.

This is, an important progression because it leads to healthy growth and development. It is also the process of continuous improvement.

If one day you were to catch up to your ideal self, that is possibly the day when life would lose all meaning. When there is nothing greater to strive for, and with no new challenge on the horizon you would end up in a state of stagnation from that point onwards. There would be no motivation to grow or to improve yourself and as a result, life would become perfect for you. That, of course, does not sound so bad, right? Well…It is not so good either. It is not good because reaching a state of perfection leads to boredom, restlessness, and a less than satisfying life.

All this, sounds quite counter-intuitive. Becoming everything you have ever wanted to be sounds like bliss. And yes you would be right. It would be as if all your dreams had come true. You are however, not that person today. It is the journey towards becoming that future person that will bring you fulfilment. It is, therefore, not the destination but rather the steps you take to get to that destination that makes life incredibly fulfilling, enjoyable and fun. Moreover, it is the process of learning, growth, and development along that journey that makes life truly worth living.

Given all this, it is quite clear to see why our ideal-self must be elusive in nature. It must change over time because you are  recreating yourself daily through your choices, decisions, and actions. Every thought you indulge in leads to a decision, which leads to an action. These actions form the habits and rules you live by and that shape your future life and behaviour. In fact, every experience you have changes you in some way. These changes might be slight, however, these always impact the kind of person you are striving to become (your ideal-self).Many small changes over a period of time will lead to big changes towards  the vision you have for your future self.

Your ideal-self, of course, encompasses the many roles you fulfil. You might be a parent, a sibling, a teacher, a sports coach, a leader, an employee or employer. Within every one of these roles there exists an “ideal you”. You might, be striving to become better at any one of these. As a result, you are working towards this ideal version of who you would like to one day become, and this helps keep you growing and developing yourself in that role. This is true for any role you fulfil.

Our growth and development in each role is the fuel that keeps pushing us forward through every decision we make and action we take. As long as these ideal versions of ourselves are somewhat out of reach, we will keep striving and pushing forward. This ideal version of you is what fuels your motivation.

This is all good-and-well , however, at times we end up walking along the wrong path because we succumb to other people’s expectations. These people shape how they would like us to be within the specific roles we fulfil. This, of course, might not be such a bad thing. Sometimes we just don’t have enough clarity to understand how we can grow and develop ourselves within a specific role. However, at times giving into other people’s expectations can lead us down a less than optimal path.

The key is to take on board what is helpful and allow that to shape your ideal self. Everything we take on board we  must make our own. In this way will we fully accept what we need to do to bridge the gap between where we are and where we desire to be.

Take a moment to decide if…

You know exactly who You are…

You accept who you are right now…

You seek to become a better version of yourself…

You commit yourself to growth and development…

When you know who you are today (your self-image), and when you fully accept this person, that is when you can commit yourself to becoming a better version of yourself, which of course comes through the process of growth and development.

That, in a nutshell, is what  the ideal-self is all about. It is about striving to become the very best version of yourself within every role you fulfil.

So what if you are not sure? What if you don’t quite have the clarity you need to bring that ideal- self to life?

Well, that is what the following four-step process to help you consciously begin shaping your ideal-self is for.

Often we desire to be better at certain roles and/or areas of our lives, however, we never quite take the time to clarify what “being better” actually means to us.

We tend to be vague about the things we would like to improve upon. Therefore, we never truly build enough momentum to carry us forward to this desired destination.

Avoid falling into this trap by going through a four-step process that will help you shape your self-ideal the same it helped me – with purposeful intention. These steps are designed to help you lay down a path from where you are [your current self] to where you desire to be [your ideal self], thereby bridging the gap between the two.

Step 1: Analysis of Your Current and Ideal Self

Your first task is to get to know yourself at a deep level. Yes, this means warts and all. It means acknowledging parts of yourself that you are pleased with and being honest about parts of yourself that tend not to live up to your personal standards and/or expectations. Ask yourself the following questions:

What do I value most about myself?

What would I like to leave unchanged moving forward?

What don’t I like about my current behaviour?

What aspects of myself would I like to alter?

There will naturally be parts of yourself that you are quite happy with and would not want to change, however, there will be other parts where you see room for growth and improvement.

Think about situations where you face adversity, conflict, making mistakes and dealing with difficult emotions. These are challenging situations that may or may not bring out the best in you. Consider these situations and ask yourself:

How do I typically handle adversity?

How do I respond when I make mistakes?

How do I tend to handle conflict?

How do I deal with difficult emotions?

Reflect on “how you are” in these situations and consider how you might be able to improve in these areas. Your answers to these questions will  lay down the foundations for your ideal-self.

Now, let’s take a look at that ideal-self by exploring the kind of person that you would like to become. Consider your answers to the previous questions, then take a moment to step out of who you are and project yourself into the future.

See and Feel the Ideal You then ask yourself:

What kind of person am I?

What standards do I like to uphold?

What do I believe about myself?

Here you are building a picture of “you”. This is not who you are now, but rather someone who you would Ideally like to become in the future.

Now consider breaking this down even further by completing the following statements:

I want to be a person who is…

I want to be a person who keeps…

I want to be a person who lives…

I want to be a person who doesn’t…

I want to be a person who solves…

Going through each of these statements will provide you with a much clearer picture of the kind of person you envision yourself becoming in the future. Now your task is to simply follow through with making these positive changes.

The only thing mission now is WHY?

Why is it important to make these changes?

In order to make change stick, you must have a “good reason” to make this change in the first place. There must be enough motivation for you to change, or otherwise, your efforts will be fleeting. What is Your WHY?

Was this helpful ? Please leave a comment I would love to hear from you.

Pearls of Wisdom

Hello there hope you are having a fabulous week.

So I have been reading this book about mindset and this thought crossed my mind. I wonder how many other people may need to read some of these pearls of wisdom I have been reading. I then realised that you may not have the time or the interest in reading a book on mindset and how our thoughts influence our daily lives. More importantly how our thoughts can change our reality.

I know I was a bit skeptical at first too but I kept reading anyway. I came to realise this is not magic, its not some new age pop-psychology or even something reserved for those “enlightened gurus” or “flower-power” types. It is all quite real and surprisingly well researched. In fact it is used very successfully by many people who many of us know [maybe not personally but we know who they are].

You know who Arnold  Schwarzenegger is right – like him or loath him go read his story. There are many like him who have used these little pearls and have made remarkable changes in their lives.

Truthfully what do you have to loose – that was my view anyway so I decided to give it a bash. I have only just started so will let you know how it goes. Why not give it a try and let me know how your reality changes. Or maybe just try it for sniffs-and-giggles and see what happens. Looking forward to hearing from you.

 

So here goes the first little pearl of wisdom I came across.

Visualization is using your imagination to see yourself in a situation that hasn’t yet happened, picturing yourself having or doing the thing you want, and successfully achieving the results you desire.

  1. Decide what you want to do or have.
  2. Relax. Spend several minutes unwinding so that you are comfortable in body and mind.
  3. Spend five to ten minutes visualizing the reality you want.

The mental pictures we indulge in, become a blueprint for our goals, a mold into which we pour our energy.

The more the thought is repeated the more energy and power it generates, and the more readily it is able to manifest itself.

Strong and concentrated thoughts are strong and concentrated forces.