Change isn’t always a pleasant experience, especially when it involves losing someone or something we hold dear. Periods of sudden loss, disappointments, and hardship can disrupt our lives, leaving us stressed, depressed, and overwhelmed.
Although they are never pleasant, life changing experiences can help you become stronger and better if you learn to approach them differently. You might gain more clarity on difficult life situations and even discover your purpose in the wake of a seemingly negative experience.
However, not everyone can turn a not-so-pleasant experience into something positive. You must adopt a certain mindset to pull through in times of crisis.
The strategies I share in this post can help you build resilience to survive gracefully and embrace change and growth if you are going through a rough patch.
Why Resilience Is Important During Difficult Times
People have different ways of reacting to negative experiences, and coping mechanism range from healthy to unhelpful methods. Some people are naturally more resilient, while others turn to drugs, alcohol, or other unhealthy methods to numb their feelings and manage stressful situations.
Still, resilience is an innate human capacity that anyone can develop, regardless of emotional sensitivity. By developing this all-important skill, you will quickly find the silver lining when experiencing hardship and adversity.
Additionally, resilience can help you become more open to new experiences instead of dreading uncertainty.
Most people prefer things to change gradually, but life can happen suddenly and throw us off balance. Resilient people are flexible, meaning they can manage their emotions under pressure, and even when life takes them by surprise, they can quickly regain their balance.
But most importantly, resilience helps you maintain unshakable confidence, regardless of what’s happening in your life. You don’t necessarily have all the answers, but you are certain you will find a way through, under, around, or above the situation.
How exactly can you leverage life changing experiences to develop resilience? Here are four effective strategies to help you rebound from setbacks and grow stronger.
1. Practice Acceptance
Make Peace With the Situation
Railing against a situation you can’t control is a common knee-jack reaction, but it doesn’t help. If anything, it is draining and will likely leave you feeling powerless.
While it is not the easiest thing to do, accepting an unpleasant situation you have no control over is actually the best way to gain control over your responses.
Denial or refusing to accept the truth of your situation will only prolong suffering. Remember that making peace with your situation doesn’t mean feeling defeated and hopeless. Instead, it helps shift your perspective, allowing you to channel your energy toward things you can control.
Here are two ways to make peace with unpleasant change:
- Think about those times you experienced heartbreaks, disappointments, or loss and came out standing tall, despite the uncertainty. You can gain the courage and confidence to overcome your current difficult situation by reflecting on your past successes.
- Identify and focus on the things you can control. It is helpful to make two lists; one for the things you can’t do anything about and the other for the things you can actually control. Shift your attention away from the first list and devote your energy to the second. For example, you may have suffered a painful breakup, and there’s nothing you can do to make your ex love you again. But you can improve yourself to be a better partner in your next romantic relationship.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
It’s a common mistake to hold back difficult emotions because we want to stay positive at all costs. The thing is, the overwhelming pain of loss simply won’t go away just because we try to ignore it. And trying to put on a brave front despite the pain is simply being dishonest to ourselves.
Worse still, pushing back difficult emotions is a way to keep ourselves stuck in the past, endlessly reliving the pain of loss. You can’t move on unless you accept and process the hurtful feelings.
Let the difficult emotions surface; don’t suppress them.
Allow yourself to feel the anger, frustration, and sadness of losing someone or something precious. With time, the upsetting feeling will start to lose intensity and gradually fade, which is the only way to properly heal and move on with your life.
Remember, it is completely normal and okay to be sad, frustrated, or depressed if you lose something valuable; it doesn’t make you a negative person in any way.
Permit Yourself to Grieve Your Losses
To start your healing process when you go through negative life changing experiences, you must acknowledge your loss and take all the time you need to mourn it.
Grieving your loss starts with acknowledging unpleasant emotions. By letting yourself mourn your losses, you set yourself free from the emotions that can keep you stressed and depressed about the past.
Mourning your losses is not the same as accepting defeat or a sign of weakness. Instead, it is a healthy way to process what has happened, allowing you to make peace with your new situation and find a path forward.
2. Build and Maintain Positive Connections
Even if you consider yourself an introvert, emotional isolation is your worst enemy when you are neck-deep in a crisis. Staying connected with family and friends, as well as cultivating new positive relationships, can help ease pain and stress at such times.
If you’re going through tough times, consider these suggestions, especially when you feel alone in the entire world.
Connect With Supportive People
Connect face-to-face with supportive people; if that’s not possible, reach out by phone or social media. Genuinely good friends won’t think you are a burden when you lean on them during trying times.
Avoid Negative People
Indeed, humans are biologically hard-wired for social connection. But it is crucial to be picky about the people in your social network, especially when going through a rough patch. Like using drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms, surrounding yourself with negative people can further worsen your situation.
Stay away from people who make you feel more afraid of your current situation by blowing things out of proportion. If you know someone quick to judge or criticize, it is best to avoid them.
Reach Out to Positive People
Don’t isolate yourself when you go through tough times just because the closest people you know are predominantly pessimistic. Instead, expand your social network to include more positive people.
3. Take Care of Yourself
Adversity will take a toll on your body and mind, and before long, living under constant stress can lead to physical and mental health issues.
However, you can increase your mental strength if your body is strong and healthy. And that’s where regular self-care comes into play.
While seeking professional help can improve mental states, taking care of yourself in the following simple ways can also help develop resilience to weather tough times:
- Eat healthy foods: A healthy diet can reduce anxiety, improve mood, and help you feel more energized. Consider adding fatty fish, fruits, and vegetables to your diet and reduce processed foods. Cook your meals whenever possible, and reduce takeouts.
- Exercise regularly: Relieve emotional stress with regular physical exercise. When you work out, even for short periods, your body releases feel-good hormones to ease pain and reduce stress.
- Get quality sleep: Staying up all night thinking about your situation will only increase anxiety and reduce your resilience. It might be difficult to sleep when you are troubled, but engaging in healthy habits during the day (like exercising and meditation) can help you get quality shut-eye at nighttime.
- Practice mindfulness: Whether meditation, deep breathing, or walking in nature, mindfulness practices can help you de-stress and relax.
4. Find Purpose and Meaning
Devastating experiences have a way of making us ponder our existence. Self-blame, feeling guilty, or pointing fingers are common thought patterns for many emotionally sensitive people.
But instead of playing the blame game, you can seize the opportunity to discover yourself and look for a higher purpose and meaning.
Ask questions such as:
- “Why did this happen?”
- “Why now, and why me?”
- “What do I learn from this experience?”
By contemplating these questions, you shift from a victim’s viewpoint to a more empowering perspective. Eventually, you will find that the seemingly negative event puts you on a path of greater life purpose. You might even be a source of inspiration to others who may face similar situations in the future.
Depending on how we handle them, negative life changing experiences can significantly shift our outlook on life for better or worse.
Acceptance is a crucial first step to examining a trying situation from a more helpful perspective. You may not be able to control everything that happens in your life, but you are in charge of your response. And developing resilience is the key to controlling your response.