08 Jan Life happens and it starts to get real as a teenager!
You will have heard me talk about resilience in many of my blog articles and podcasts. It really is a skill that will set you up to lead a positive life and enable you to manage challenges with clarity and stability.
Today, I want to use this space as an overview to explore what resilience is, who has it, how you get it and the impact resilience has on you and on those around you. It’s a huge subject, I’m sure you’ll agree, which is why some elements are covered in more detail in my other blogs (you can find links to these at the bottom of this article). Resilience is also a hugely exciting topic because one minute you’re pottering along in life, everything is good, you have no stresses then … boom … life DOES happen. And it can be immense when you’re a teenager. Something occurs, that often comes from nowhere, and it just rocks your entire world. It doesn’t have to be something catastrophic although a death, illness or separation in the family can be the cause of severe distress. It could just be a series of little things that mount up and all of a sudden the reality of what they all mean hits you. And you’re not sure which way to turn.
“The best things in life are unexpected because there were no expectations.”
Life happens, so what is resilience?
When you think about the word resilience what does it mean to you? You might think about setbacks you have experienced in your short life so far, how hard it’s been to recover from something that happened in the past. Maybe your parents separated, you suffered a humiliating experience at school, or were unsuccessful somehow at something you wanted to do or achieve.
If you’re still unsure, think about the American Psychological Association’s ten key factors to resilience outlined in the ‘start your journey’ blog listed later in the article. Run through the exercise in the ‘reprogramming your internal representation’ article, also listed later.
In a nutshell, resilience is your ability to recover and move on after you’ve been challenged in some way. It’s your bounce back ability. I love that phrase, it’s so true. Resilience doesn’t mean the absence of stress or difficult situations because, believe it or not, you need obstacles to challenge you in order to learn valuable lessons, to build your skills, and to be able to share ideas and experiences with others. Resilience is the ability to adapt when life happens – and it starts to get real as a teenager.
If you are flexible instead of rigid in life then you demonstrate resilience. It’s the notion of pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and away you go again. Some people are better at being resilient that others, yes, but it is most definitely a skill that can be learned. People stand strong when they are resilient because they survived a tough challenge. This might conjure up an image in your mind of someone you know. A friend, parent, teacher or role model. But these people weren’t made this way. They have all lived through experiences that have tested them and, as a result, have become stronger through dealing with harsh situations in a positive way.
“Life is full of unexpected things but always remember that it’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”
The biggest hurdle against resilience
The single largest factor that obstructs you building your resilience is your inner voice. You have 60,000 thoughts every day and some of them (usually the unhelpful ones) just go round and round like a video loop in your mind! The first step to conquer this is to notice the thoughts that you don’t want in your life.
Thoughts will eventually become things in your reality, so if you think negative thoughts you will start to develop negative behaviours. Is your self-talk positive or negative? This could be about yourself or about others. Do your inner thoughts make you feel great, proud, excited or calm? If not then you might be feeling anxious, stressed, even depressed about people or situations around you. The best way to fight these feelings before they become darker and affect your day-to-day life and relationships is to change the words you say to yourself.
You have no control over what happens around you or the actions of others, but you can control your own thoughts and subsequent actions. Many people just don’t get this! When you start to notice your thoughts they become part of your conscious mind. At this point you can observe them and I encourage you to question these thoughts. Ask yourself why you feel this way. What has happened in the past that that has trigger the way you think about someone or something? Be curious rather than judgmental and definitely ask yourself what else could these thoughts mean. This is one of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself.
“Life is full of surprises. Not all these surprises are pleasant, so you need to be ready for what life brings you.”
What does a slammed door say to you?
If you were with me now and I got up to leave the room and slammed the door behind me, what would you think? Would you think I was angry? Upset? Would you think I was angry because of something you had said or done? Let’s flip those thoughts for a second and think about what else the slamming door could mean. Might it be that a window was open in the next room and the breeze caught the door as I went to close it and added additional force? Could it be that the door was a fire door and normally it would close slowly on its own, but for some reason the safety mechanism was removed so it slammed shut quickly? Can you see how these alternative meanings are still possible, but that they are not negative in any way?
If you want to learn more about resilience please read ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen R. Covey. He talks about the space between the stimulus and response being ‘freedom’. When an incident happens, as an example, think about what you would do if a fellow student accidentally dropped a drink and it went all over your shoes. This incident is a trigger to how you will subsequently respond. And that response has several options. Instead of instantly feeling angry and shouting or feeling upset and crying, take a moment or two to think between realising what has happened and how you react. Ask questions and I promise, you’ll be amazed at what you come up with. It’s a great skill so please practice it. Never react immediately because you will judge the situation too quickly and your first response will often be negative. Don’t be that person. Come up with at least half a dozen different meanings for each situation. Make them seem humorous, smile and see how different you feel.
“Embrace and welcome the unexpected.”
Further reading to build your resilience as a teenager
Earlier in this article I referred to resilience as being a huge subject. If this overview has intrigued you, sort out a notebook and pen or a open a fresh document on your phone or computer and spend some time working through the ideas and exercises presented around the topic. Please consider the following articles and see this as a form of personal development for you.
- How resilient thinking can prevent teenage depression from setting in [part 1]
- Getting to grips with internal representation and resilient thinking [part 2]
- Reprogramming your internal representation and build your resilient thinking [part 3]
- Resilience – preventing your teenage problems from escalating [part 1]
- Resilience – start your resilience journey today [part 2]
Choose the life you want to lead
I’d love to hear your thoughts on resilience and how you may change the way you think about things. Please do share the questions you ask yourself and your newfound resilience by connecting with me on social media.
If you want to start a private conversation or perhaps you’re reading this and you know someone that might need help, please email me in confidence.
Until next time, have an incredible week and stay amazing.