Mary-Ann Owens and Associates

Resilience Blog

Reaching your goals with Grit

Acceptance Then Progress

Acceptance Then Progress

“The more you hide your feelings, the more they show. The more you deny your feelings, the more they grow.” ~Unknown

Many people define resilience as being able to move toward goals. However, at times our negative emotions, thoughts or memories can block our progress. When we accept our difficult emotions, thoughts, and memories, paradoxically, we can help make the progress we desire. These valid parts of our healing process most likely need some focused attention.

Part of having career grit is to acknowledge the difficulties we have in life and at work. By accepting our negative feelings, thoughts, and memories we are validating and honoring what we have been through. Accepting our whole self-allows us to move on and work through difficult experiences. When we don’t acknowledge and accept these parts of ourselves, we can end up being stuck in repetitive patterns instead of moving beyond these experiences.

When we demonstrate self-compassion and self-acceptance of our thoughts and feelings we can develop the energy to move forward in our lives. Some ways to face and work with these thoughts and feelings are by:

  1. Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and feelings helps you get them out of your head and can bring perspective to your experience. You most likely have had some negative moments in the past, where in time, you were able to release these situations from your mind and free yourself from the grip they had on you and your thinking. Sometimes difficult periods even bring with them unexpected gifts of resilience, learning or growth. Has that happened to you?
  2. Talking with Supportive Friends/Family: Sharing our problems with supportive people can help us get support in difficult times and share our common human experiences. Hopefully, you have people in your life that you can do this with. Don’t be surprised if some of your friends and family are not able to be emotionally vulnerable and tolerant of low moments. You will learn whom you can do this with by taking a risk and sharing with some of the closest people in your life. Keep those people who are able to be emotionally vulnerable close and also give them an ear when they are going through challenging times. This will help you build trust that either party can count on when you need support.
  3. Accept your Thoughts and Feel your Feelings: Allowing yourself to feel your difficult feelings, and bear witness to them, in a kind-hearted way can help you reduce the impact they have on you. If we strongly fight our negative feelings and thoughts they persist. When we accept our thoughts and feelings, we can change. “What you resist persists.” Carl Jung

One example occurred with a client I coached who had memories of working in a number of difficult team settings. This interfered with his work search since he was unconsciously worried this would mean that he would inevitably end up working with a difficult team again.

Rather than avoiding becoming part of a work team again, he reflected upon his past experiences and learned how to impact teams constructively. This helped him lean into team situations again. Sharing and dealing head on with his experience, helped him gain the confidence he needed to move into a new work team.

The problem doesn’t lie in the negative thoughts or feelings we have, but in how we respond to them. Can we be compassionate with ourselves when we have a human moment without beating ourselves up after the fact? Can we accept the inevitable dips in our journey of life, and not judge ourselves harshly for the difficulties we face? Remember, acceptance and self-compassion are instrumental in keeping us on track and moving forward.

“Many of us spend our whole lives running from feeling with the mistaken belief that you can not bear the pain. But you have already borne the pain. What you have not done is feel all you are beyond that pain.” Kahlil Gibran

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Turn up Your Thrill and Resilience Factors

Turn up Your Thrill and Resilience Factors

Our minds often focus on what is bad in our lives and make those issues appear bigger as a survival mechanism. We remember the unpleasant things that have happened to us strongly, even if we have had more positive experiences. This is called negative bias thinking and it occurs in everyone. The advantage with this aids in assisting us to survive negative situations, however, we end up living with more misery, anxiety, fear or depression than we need to much of the time.

Have you heard the line from that song called “Jack and Diane” by John Cougar …it goes like this…”life goes on after the thrill of living is gone”. You can, however, rebalance the positive and turn up the thrill factor within your life by doing one or more of the following:

  1. Remember all the good things that have occurred. We can increase the thrill of living and our resilience at the same time by remembering all the good things that have happened to us. A great exercise is to cut a piece of flip chart paper in three vertical strips. Then tape the three pieces together. You will have a very long piece of paper. On one end of the paper you can start with the beginning of your life and on the other end finish with the present day, you can list all the good things, the highlights and thrilling moments that have occurred over the course of your life. You may have to add to this sheet of paper, your lifeline, as you allow yourself to remember more of the good things that have happened to you.
  2. Think of all the friends and family that have demonstrated great love and care for you over your lifetime and the fun times you have had together. Add them to your lifeline.
  3. Notice the good things that are happening in your day, as they are happening. Let them sink into your mind by savoring them for a moment and reflect on how these good thoughts make you feel better.
  4. You may also recall some things that haven’t gone well in the past. With time, however, they may have provided you with an unseen benefit. Sometimes these gifts come in the form of learning, perspective or strength. What if one of the reasons these bad things happened was so that you could receive the gift? Consider what you are currently labeling as “bad” in your life. Think of what good might come of these things if you gave the situation some time, effort or perspective. Can you lean into turning the situation into something beneficial?
  5. On a different sheet of paper write down your negative thoughts and reflect on ways you can reframe the situation. Reframing means that you see the situation from a different perspective. An example is when you find yourself stuck in an airport in a snowstorm and you end up having to wait for 8 hours. A reframe of the situation would be the appreciation of quality time you have with the person you are with, getting some work done or making an adventure out of the situation. You can turn this negative situation into something positive for yourself and those around you.

You can imagine how doing these exercises on a regular basis will increase your resilience levels. You will be able to move through things when you rebalance your thoughts positively and increase your thrill for living. You will have more energy and you can take more positive risks because you realize that so much good can come from engaging positively with the situations you find yourself in when reflecting on your past and your experience of the present moment.

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