Something is very wrong.
Not exactly the words you want to hear. But there I was, sitting across from my doctor who was telling me that I had a health issue, he didn’t know what was causing it and I needed to have a medical procedure done – right before Christmas.
Those words threw December into a lot of tests and doctor’s appointments. I don’t have the answer yet about what’s going on with me, but we’re getting closer to figuring it out.
In the meantime, I have a choice – I can let the unknown knock me down or trust that whatever I find out, God can get me through it and help me bounce back from it.
There’s no denying it – no matter who you are, where you live, or what you do, life will knock you down. Sometimes it can feel like you’re taking hit after hit, again and again. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, illness, disaster, rejection or any of a hundred other heartbreaking setbacks, you will feel the pain of misfortune. Unfortunately, it’s all a part of life.
The good news is that you can always get back up.
While each of these hits makes its mark, these blows don’t have to define you. As the old saying goes, life is determined 10% by what happens to you, and 90% by how you react to it.
Sometimes, when you look back over your life, many of these disappointments actually set you up to achieve some of your greatest victories.
You’ve probably heard some people say that success is simply how high you bounce when you hit rock bottom. So instead of spending any more time on how to dodge your difficulties, perhaps it’s better to learn how to best recover from them – learn how you can develop more resilience.
So, what exactly is resilience?
It’s defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.” The Japanese have a saying, “Nana korobi ya oki,” which means, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” And, Proverbs 24:16 says, “for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.” Both sentiments are reminders that developing your bounce back factor is key to facing difficulties with a resilient attitude.
Resilience is a key component of success. While the road to any kind of success can be filled with obstacles, challenges and setbacks, the resilience formula is simple enough: Rise where you’ve fallen and take another step. That’s it.
Here’s a simple, but great example of what I mean. Babies fail hundreds of times before taking their first step. Children are able to bounce back from so many early hardships. And, how many times have you heard variations on this story: person loses his or her job, spends all their savings, then goes on to start a successful company and gain it all back?
When you look at your life, I’m pretty sure that there are some challenges that you overcame. Still, struggles can sometimes grab you by surprise. Surprise creates confusion, which clouds thinking.
That’s why it’s important to train and nurture your ability to bounce back more quickly, so that you can clear confusion quickly and respond accordingly.
The first thing you can do is to build and nurture meaningful connections.
Friends. Family. Coworkers. Church group. Volleyball team. Studies show that the number one factor influencing resilience is people. Caring and supportive relationships matter. No man is an island is true.
These relationships create love, trust, encouragement and reassurance. These are the people you can lean on in times of trouble, people who listen to you and who see you for the beautiful, capable woman that you are.
Take a moment right now and think of three people you can count on. Who do you talk to about the hard stuff? Whose shoulder can you cry on? Who makes you feel like you can overcome anything? Who speaks life over you?
And if you don’t already have a strong and supportive network, that’s okay. You can start building it by volunteering for an organization you love, actively participating at your church, getting active in some sort of social group where other people share your interests or re-establishing connections with long lost family or friends. We give one another strength through presence.
Second, an easy way to grow your resilience muscle is to practice positive thinking.
It may sound cheesy, but the simple truth is that optimism helps you find the light when everything looks dark. Proverbs 24:17 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” What you think and how you think about a situation plays a major part in how you will get through it.
Now I’m not suggesting that you ignore your problems or candy-coat your situation. Life can be hard, and you may have faced (or are facing) huge challenges. I’m not minimizing any of that.
What I am saying is that a positive perspective helps you look at your problem with an eye for the solutions. Just as you have challenges, God gives you the skills you need to face those challenges. Lean on Him and find your strength in Him. Accept the temporary nature of your problems. Because one day, this too will pass, and you will grow from the experience.
One readily available way to practice this kind of thinking is to catch your negative self-talk and replace it with positive reminders of who you really are. Tell yourself the whole truth, which is, “Even though I’m struggling, I know I can do this,” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” “Even when I’m upset, I’m still committed to a good outcome,” God will never leave me or forsake me,” or simply, “I’m good at what I do.”
Your words have power. Speak life over your situation.
Third, nothing helps you develop resilience like taking action.
Often, the best thing to do when life knocks the wind out of you is to simply DO SOMETHING.
When you ignore your problems and hope they go away, you end up feeling powerless and stuck. The fastest way to break that hold is to simply get moving. Take one decisive action. Just one step and see what happens. Ask God to order your steps and He will.
Every time you tackle an obstacle, you stir up your inner reserves of resilience and courage. This makes you feel powerful, and capable of taking the next step. Then, you’re able to continue to move toward forward, one small step at a time.
Your storms aren’t sent to destroy you, but rather to strengthen you. And, when you look back, it’s often the challenges that you’ve overcome that have grown your faith. Those challenges you’ve bounced back from are the things that give you a testimony – that give you a story to help encourage others.
And when it feels like you can’t rise again, remember the worlds of Dr. Jose Harris, “Falling down is a part of life. Getting back up is living.”