Ten tips for finding your way forward - Michelle Gibbings

Ten tips for finding your way forwardIt’s been an eventful start to 2020, and no doubt there’s more to come. Navigating your way through the increasing complexity and finding ways to rise and stay strong when things don’t go your way is critical.

There is much in life we can’t predict and control, but there is also much in life we can do to be better equipped to deal with what’s in front of us, and successfully move forward.

The famous Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, understood we all have a choice to make about how we respond to events.

He said: “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment”.

Most of us know people who in the face of incredible adversity appear remarkably calm and in control. Or those people who after experiencing something sad can bounce back, reframe what has happened in a way that makes it easier for them to accept and move on.

This is resilience. It’s the ability to withstand stress and adversity. It doesn’t mean you ignore how you feel or that you don’t experience stress, sadness or hurt. Instead, it’s about how you respond to what is happening – and the meaning you are putting on those events.

People who are resilient have a way of recognising the issue and the emotion it is creating and why, reframing what it means and then adapting to the changed circumstances.

Your level of resilience is impacted by:

  • How you think – your mindset
  • What you do – the actions you take
  • Where you focus – what you pay attention to

The good news is there are actions you can take every day to help build your resilience. Here’s ten tips to get you started:

1. Practice mindfulness and take the time to stop, breathe, reflect, so you can then respond to an event (rather than just react to it). This approach helps ensure your actions are more mindful, deliberate and helpful.

2. When you are faced with an unwelcome situation work through the options and what decisions you can and can’t make. Feeling like you have a choice as to your response makes you feel better. We don’t like to feel as though we don’t have a choice.

3. Adopt a gratitude mantra because expressing gratitude is scientifically proven to help you feel happier and more appreciative of what you have. It helps you focus on what you have, rather than focusing your energy on what you don’t have.

4. Helping others in need helps you realise the positive forces in your life, and it is scientifically proven that we feel better about ourselves when we do nice things for other people.

5. Recognise and acknowledge your emotions. Your feelings are real and it’s important to accept how you are feeling and be curious about what’s driving that feeling. Suppressing your emotions and feelings won’t help in the long run.

6. Strive to find purpose and meaning in your life because people with purpose are generally happier and more resilient as they are clear about their goals and where they are heading in life.

7. Maintain strong connections with friends and family. As tribal creatures we like to belong and be part of things that are more than just ourselves. When we have strong connections, we feel less alone, and are therefore better able to cope when things don’t go well.

8. Look after yourself by exercising often, eating well, meditating, laughing lots and doing things that nourish your mind, body and soul. Your physical and mental health play a key role in your ability to bounce forward.

9. Embrace the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. We all make mistakes. The difference is how we view and handle them. When you make a mistake is your self-talk “I’m a failure”, or “I haven’t been successful this time”? The latter – more growth mindset – approach is what will help you move forward because you are viewing mistakes as an opportunity to experiment, learn and grow, rather than viewing yourself as a failure.

10. Silence any unnecessary and unhelpful self-talk. Yes, we all talk to ourselves. The question is whether the self-talk is harmful or helpful. If your inner voice is the unharnessed critic in your life it is time to turn it off or switch channels.

And if you need more, I’d suggest you adopt the approach recommended by the famous Sufi Poet, Rumi, who encouraged us to: “Live life as though everything is rigged in your favour”.

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