Have you ever wondered why some people break under hardship, and others recover and even thrive?
Why do many turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance abuse, self-harm, and self-sabotage, abandon their faith, and isolate themselves from friends and family, while others adapt and find innovative ways to remain optimistic, motivated, and determined?
What does one have that the other lacks?
Personal resilience is the ability to adapt and recover from life’s challenges and setbacks. It’s an essential trait for mental and emotional well-being. Research has shown that resilience can be learned and developed over time. Here are five ways to grow in personal resilience.
Cultivate A Positive Mindset
Focus on the good in life and maintain a positive attitude. Trust that things will work out in the end. The story of Job provides us with a wonderful example of someone who possesses great resilience—one might even say miraculous resilience.
Job experienced great suffering and loss and is known for his unwavering faith and resilience in the face of tremendous adversity. He was a wealthy man with a loving family and a successful business. Job had it all. In a series of horrific events, Job lost it all. In the blink of an eye, his wealth, his family, and his health were ripped from him.
Even when his so-called friends and his wife try to persuade him to turn his back on God, Job does the opposite and turns to God. In order to build resilience as strong as Job’s, let’s do as he did. When you experience negative thoughts and begin to mentally tear yourself down and tell yourself negative messages, acknowledge that you are simply feeding the downward spiral you are desperately trying to avoid.
Turn to God and begin reframing the story you are telling yourself. Every story has multiple perspectives. Take a positive approach. Turn to God through scripture like “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” – James 1:2-3.
Job’s unwavering faith in God was the foundation of his resilience. Keeping close to God through prayer and scripture provides us comfort and hope during dark times. There is no better way to build resilience. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13.
Research has shown that faithful Christians weather storms with more resilience and improve much faster after difficult situations.
Self-care involves taking care of yourself physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. In Matthew 22:37, Jesus shows us that self-care is a priority, i.e. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
If we don’t take care of our physical bodies, we cannot love God with all our strength; if we neglect our mental health, we cannot love Him with all our mind; if we let our spiritual lives dry up, we cannot love Him with all our soul; and if we allow our emotions to get the best of us, we cannot give our heart to Him totally.
Self-care is crucial in order to give ourselves totally to our Creator and to live out our lives in a fulfilling way. Self-care is all about refilling your tank.
You can think of yourself like a bank account. Every negative interaction, every stressor, and every taxing demand you have in your life is like a withdrawal from your account. Eventually, you’ll be overdrawn, and the account will be closed. You don’t want that.
Make sure your deposits are frequent and leave you with a surplus balance. Sit on your back porch swing and listen to the birds; go out and get a cup of coffee with a friend; play a board game with your kids; throw a ball with your dog; go to the museum; spend time with someone you love—all of these things can be deposits for your account, and the more you deposit, the stronger your resilience will be. Make self-care a priority. Fit your life around your self-care rather than trying to squeeze in a few minutes here and there to spend with your spouse, children, or God. Block out time that’s just for refilling the tank. Protect it like you would any other crucial event in your life.
Regular Physical Exercise
Regular physical exercise helps to reduce stress, improve mood, and maintain good physical health. Caring for our physical health is on par with caring for our spiritual health. 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
We can practice mindfulness by being fully present in the moment, observing our thoughts and feelings without judgment, and focusing on positive things. Sit quietly and breathe deeply for a few minutes. Place a palm on your abdomen and a palm on your chest. As you breathe deeply, focus on moving your abdomen while your chest remains relatively still. While you breathe, picture something you love that brings you peace.
Connecting with others is a huge part of self-care. We’re relational beings, and this is really at the core of who we are. It’s not something that is added on later. We’re hardwired this way. We can practice self-care by connecting with others who share our faith and values.
This can include joining a church or Bible study group, participating in volunteer work, or reaching out to friends and family for support. Self-care is not selfish. It is essential. It is important to recognize the value of self-care and practice it regularly.
Remember, even Jesus often took time to retreat from the crowds and spend time alone in prayer and reflection (Mark 1:35).
Build Strong Relationships
Surround yourself with supportive people who encourage and uplift you.
Who do you admire? Who speaks truth but speaks it charitably? Who is generous of spirit, kind, and forgiving? Search for the sorts of people you want on your personal resilience-building team. Sometimes they challenge us to up our game and improve. Sometimes they keep us accountable when we make a decision to improve our lives. Sometimes they provide us with a shoulder to cry on.
Even in his darkest moments, Job did not isolate himself. He had friends who supported him and provided comfort. We too must seek support from others in difficult times. Sharing our burdens and talking them through is a great way to strengthen our resilience and sort out issues before they get too ‘up in our head’ and we begin to create negative self-talk that whittles away at us.
Connecting with others is essential.
Expressing gratitude for the blessings in your life is essential.
Make a list of things you are grateful for and regularly reflect on them. Gratitude builds resilience and shifts our mindset even in the face of adversity, so we can better cope with challenges and setbacks. Gratitude helps us find meaning and purpose. When we experience hardship or loss, we lose meaning and purpose. However, focusing on the things we are grateful for can help us see the bigger picture.
Gratitude strengthens relationships. Expressing gratitude to others strengthens our relationships and provides a support system. Research has shown that practicing gratitude can lead to improved physical and emotional health, including lower levels of stress and depression and improved sleep.
When thinking about the things you are grateful for, meditate on the aspects of those things that you have no control over. Think about the circumstances, the coincidences, the scientific discoveries and innovations, the answered prayers, and the many actions of countless others that brought the object of your gratitude into your life. This will not only help you delve deeper into the virtue of gratitude but also promote the virtue of humility.
Through a process like this, you are able to deepen and broaden your gratitude to God and to everyone, known or unknown, who has contributed toward your good.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, whether it’s from a friend, a family member, or a mental health professional.
If you are struggling with depression or any other mental health issues, it’s essential to seek professional help from a professional counselor. They can provide you with the necessary support and tools to manage your symptoms. Counseling is a way to get a third party to help make sense of challenging circumstances before they spiral out of control.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength and builds resilience as you learn to cope with difficult situations effectively. Shield Bearer Counseling is always here if you need us.
By focusing on these principles and drawing inspiration from these suggestions, we can cultivate personal resilience and navigate life’s challenges with greater strength and confidence.
Having faith does not mean that you will never face challenges or struggles. It means that you have the strength and support to face them with hope and perseverance.
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