Something I often hear people say about anxiety and life situations is “It’s ok because most of the stuff I worry about will probably never happen”.
It’s fair to say that most of what we catastrophise about may never happen and some of what we don’t think about will happen. But true resilience doesn’t mean putting a positive spin on things. It’s not about wishful thinking.
True resilience is knowing that if something goes wrong or if truly difficult situations arise, it does not have the power to dictate how you feel and how you behave. Realising this, we feel less ‘controlled’ by circumstance and our minds become less burdened by anxious thinking about the past or future and instead we find ourselves living in the present moment, with the clarity and perspective to think clearly and make better decisions.
True resilience is knowing that you can handle whatever life throws at you and you’ve had many examples of this throughout your life.
You can look at the stark reality of any situation and know that helpful, wise or brilliant ideas can come to you or those around you in any moment.
So when the proverbial s**t does hit the fan and we want to encourage some calm and clarity maybe a useful question to ask ourselves is ;
‘Do we know what’s causing our state of mind and reactions right now? Do we know that our reactions and behaviour are a response to our thinking and not the situation itself?’
By inviting ourselves to consider what’s really going on, we are guided back to clarity. The one thing we can always rely on, is that our state of mind and our behaviour follows thought, not things.
Just like gravity is a constant fact in our lives, so is the nature of thought and consciousness, which is constantly (without exception) creating our moment to moment states of mind and our entire experience of reality.
Why does knowing this matter? How does it help?
Because how we are feeling and how we are perceiving every moment, is generated by Thought and is therefore always shaping how we each respond and behave in any situation or circumstance.
For example, do we bury our heads in the sand? Do we step up and give our perspective even though others may not want to hear it? Do we get defensive and blame others? Or do we take responsibility for our own feelings and behaviour? Do we run around like headless chickens, or do we stay calm in the eye of the storm? Can we be compassionate or understanding even when we don’t like or agree with how someone is behaving? Are we able to see the bigger picture?
Every day we experience how resilience is an inside job. I have times when I feel totally overwhelmed but later, I feel fully equipped to handle the situation, even though nothing has outwardly changed.
And what about those times when we get discouraged or derailed by something we know is trivial, and then in the face of something major, we’re cool, calm and collected. These differences show us that it cannot be the situation itself causing our response (however much it may look or feel that way). It’s always the power of thought in each moment, in the form of our attitudes, beliefs, justifications, biases or values.
Have you heard of post traumatic growth? It’s based on the observation that after traumatic events, while some people struggle to live their lives, many people not only recover but they thrive and flourish. It beautifully demonstrates that life’s circumstances don’t have to define us or cause long term suffering but instead can uncover deep healing, insight and new possibilities.
So the next time you hear someone say ‘don’t worry, it won’t happen‘, remember that even if it does, we have resilience on our side. It’s what we are made of.
If you enjoyed this and want to read about mindset in leadership, check this post