Make the best of it
Resilience is: having the belief in your ability to overcome a setback and achieve a meaningful goal despite the adverse circumstances.
You can nurture this belief in your ability to bounce back and carry on. You do this best when you look for eventual benefits that can be reaped while overcoming a setback. People who are resilient are able to do this.
They are somehow able to keep a positive outlook and try to make the best of a bad situation. As a result of making the best of it, they are able to draw on resources of courage and resourcefulness we all have. How do they do this?
Nothing is entirely unchangeable.
Look for the one thing
that is within your power
to change the situation for the better.
Easy for you?
In our personal experience, it definitely helps to have a ‘list of things to do that might help’ when you are faced with a setback. Of course, we are aware that these lists have a certain ‘easy for you’ quality at the moment you are confronted with negative experiences. However, once you have absorbed the first shock, it’s good practice to follow those people who have shown to be resilient and overcome a setback.
5 habits to overcome a setback
Here are 5 habits resilient people practice to keep a positive mindset in the face of adverse circumstances. Below we will explain in general terms how doing these things can boost your resilience and help you overcome a setback.
To be really useful, you have to adapt them to yourself and your circumstances. (Coaching in making these attitudes personally applicable is very useful in our experience.)
- Maintain a hopeful outlook.
- Take actions that don’t fight the setback, but that see it as feedback
- Attempt positive restructuring of demanding circumstances.
- Avoid interpreting crises or stressful events as unchangeable problems.
- Accept circumstances that cannot be changed.
1 Maintain a hopeful outlook
Hope is nothing else but believing that something you wish for is possible and probable. For most people what they believe to be possible and probable shrinks when they are presented with a setback.
Maintaining a hopeful outlook in the face of a setback is therefore not a given. You have to actively keep your focus on what you still believe to be possible. You also have to look for ways you can make your wished-for outcome probable again. The best way to do this is to look for a small action you can do now that will take you in the right direction.
2 Take actions that don’t fight the setback, but that see it as feedback
Most of the time fighting the setback is a waste of time and energy. Looking at the setback as feedback is a wiser approach.
Look at what you want to achieve. Then look at the setback. Consider it as feedback. Decide what action will take the feedback you found into account and bring you closer to your goal.
3 Attempt positive restructuring of demanding circumstances
Most setbacks are negative experiences initially. However, when you attempt positive restructuring of the situation, you may see an opportunity in the setback to progress toward your goal in a different way.
This does not mean you deny there is a setback. You do take that into account as well. It does mean that you actively look for ways to restructure the circumstances. Positive restructuring means looking for an alternative way you can still progress toward your goal, despite the setback.
4 Avoid depicting crises or stressful events as unchangeable problems
It is quite natural when facing a setback or a crisis to react by seeing the problem as an unchangeable given. However, whenever you give in to that thought, this makes you powerless. The truth of the matter is – nothing is entirely unchangeable. Look for the one (maybe small or even tiny) thing that is within your power to change the situation for the better. See what happens. And start looking for the next thing.
5 Accept circumstances that cannot be changed
This seems in contradiction to what was said above. However, some things really are beyond your influence and will have a bearing on you no matter what.
All the energy you spend on defence or fighting against it isn’t invested in recovering and taking the right actions or at least attempting to find what they would be.
To accept a circumstance merely means that when the postman brings you a parcel, you receive it. You don’t have to do anything with it yet, only accept it.
Once you have accepted it, you can start looking for ways to deal with it. This may take some time. Acceptance is not always easy. Take the time you need. Then look for what you need to deal with the situation in the best possible way.
Research shows resilient people practice these 5 habits when faced with setbacks or adverse circumstances. Some people do this by nature. Most people benefit from some advice and practice in making them applicable in their own life.
Coaching can assist you in making these habits part of your own repertoire. You’ll be able to use them when you need them, in your own way. We cordially invite you to ask us how you might benefit from making resilience skills your own.
This article is part of a series about resilience. You might also be interested in reading:
ADDED BONUS TO RESILIENCE: A positive outlook may be good for your health! Read this article in The New York Times that relates how a positive outlook also has a positive effect on your health and wellbeing.