The Resilience Challenge Day 4: A Learning Attitude

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by Barry Winbolt

Dwelling on problems holds you back and causes stress. Today’s post in the 5-Day Resilience Challenge is about training yourself to see problems as opportunities.

Highly resilient people do this routinely They don’t welcome negative events, but they see them differently because they treat life as a learning process. 

They learn from successes, from other people, from life itself. They learn from their failures too. Seeing failure from a learning perspective takes some of the sting out of it.

Resilient people view difficulty as a challenge, not as a barrier. Neither do they view the inevitable rejections and failures of life as defining events. They are committed to who they are, the job at hand, their relationships, and their inner values. 

Every event is seen as an opportunity for learning. But that doesn’t mean they are hopelessly optimistic, nor unrealistic. They have to deal with bad news and challenging events like anyone else.

Even highly resilient people have their bad days, but they bounce back quickly and their action-oriented approach leads them to get on with doing whatever they can, rather than becoming paralyzed.

Day 4 Challenge: Develop a Learning Attitude

Make a conscious decision to think optimistically whenever you find your mind turning to negativity. When a doubt or negative judgment creeps in, take a moment to turn each on its head using this 5-step approach:

Stand Back

Separate yourself from the problem. We tend to have a self-centered reaction to problems; our immediate thought is about how it will affect us. Once you’ve had time to digest what the problem actually is, start to define it as a separate entity from you. Giving it a quirky name can help. For example ‘Willy workload’, or ‘Ratty relationship’… whatever seems appropriate.

Accept the Inevitable

We covered acceptance on Day 1 of this challenge. Fighting and complaining about a problem only wears you down and makes the problem seem worse. Accepting it, on the other hand, allows you to divert your energy to something productive. 

Ignore Others’ Reactions

Negativity threatens your resilience. Even if you are not directly involved in it, gossip and nay-saying can sap your morale and threaten your best efforts. You don’t have to shoot down or ignore friends and colleagues who insist on giving you an ear-bashing with their negativity. Avoid them if you can, if not simply thank them for their vies and move on.

Treat Your Emotions as Information

If you feel sad, or angry, for example, note how you feel and ask “What does this tell me about me/the situation?” Exploring like this can be empowering. It interrupts the likelihood the feeling will overwhelm you, and the next question is “So what can I do about it?” This will shift your relationship with the problem.

Evaluate the Threats and Consequences

What are the real threats and what are the imagined ones? Separate the two. The imagined ones are within your control; you should be able to ignore them (this sometimes takes a little practice). Identifying any real threats will mean you can focus on them as ‘problems within the overall problem’. Broken down like this you can see the parts you can do something about, and ignore those you can’t.

Focus on Improvements

Take any steps you can towards self-improvement or improving the situation. What can you take away that leaves you a little stronger, a little better able to cope in the future? Even small steps lead to a bigger change in the end. With the situation, be proactive and look for how you might make a contribution.

Over to You

So that’s day four. Over to you. As always, if you have any questions or difficulties, leave a comment below. I’ll respond with more ideas if needed.

For Day 5’s resilience challenge see here.

To learn more about increasing confidence see: Personal Resilience

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