In celebration of the Mental Health Awareness month, all the blog posts for May will center on Happiness. The following topics will be discussed:
“Life doesn’t get easier and more forgiving. We get stronger and more resilient”
Have you ever felt so down because of life circumstances yet in your own little way you continue to push through with life and believe in a better future?
If yes, then you are able to practice resilience.
WHAT IS RESILIENCE?
Resilience is a person’s ability to adapt to challenges and “bounce back” after a fall. This is related to happiness as resilient people tend to feel the most joy.
When hardships fell upon resilient people, they will surely feel down but their strong belief that there is a good reason why they experience such challenge in life push them to continue on. They have good self-esteem and they believe that they have what it takes to overcome the challenge. They have a strong social support but are also highly differentiated from others. Differentiated people do not base their worth to someone or something.
I have seen a video of the Iron Lady of Pakistan in my Facebook newsfeed last time and thought that she is a perfect example of a resilient person. She has experienced so many hardship that made her lose a lot of things like her ability to walk and conceive an offspring. However, she rose above her challenges and came out stronger. If you want to watch the video, I linked it here. You would not help but be inspired too.
Filipino people are said to be resilient. The Philippines encounters a lot of natural disasters and experience extreme poverty but we can still smile, be happy and go on with our lives. The country even ranked 69th in the United Nations Annual World Happiness Report for 2019.
Resilience need not be shown only in severe situations. In fact, according to American Psychological Association, resilience is ordinary. A lot of people exhibit it. May it be in a simple stressful situation (e.g. you forgot your wallet in your home while you’re on your way to school or work), or a severe one (e.g. death of a loved-one, break-up or hitting rock bottom with finances), resilience can be demonstrated by not thinking about the situation as a “paralyzing event but instead taking this situation as a learning opportunity”. With this information, we can be confident that we can also develop strong resilience in our selves.
But why is it important to build resilience? I believe that most mental health concerns, like depression, are rooted to the underdeveloped self-esteem and self-efficacy which results to instable resilience too. Resilience is important so that we can go forth with our lives despite all the challenges we are facing.
Resilience is also linked with happiness. Let us go back to the definition stated by Martin Seligman about happiness which I discussed in the first installment of this series. You can read the first post here.
Happiness is the state of feeling positive emotions, capacity to recover from negative emotions quickly and holding a sense of purpose.
One facet of happiness is our ability to recover from the negative emotions and I interpreted it as resilience.
HOW CAN WE BUILD RESILIENCE?
I am writing this blog post about resilience for myself just as much as it is for you, my dear reader. This is something that I am still working in myself too. I researched on this so that I will know how I can develop resilience and I am sharing with you what I learned. Here are some of the things that I learned:
Work on your self-esteem.
People with healthy self-esteem are confident and positive. They know their strengths well and they are accepting of their weaknesses. They trust themselves that they are capable enough to surpass the challenges they encounter
People with low self-esteem have a tendency to sabotage their selves. They talk ill about themselves and judge themselves critically. However, when we are in a difficult situation, the last thing our selves need is another mental torture. Imagine having a friend who is grieving from a loss or a failure, how would you approach that friend? Would you bring him down further or would you support him as he thrive to overcome the adversity? You would surely choose the latter, right? Treat yourself the way you would treat that friend.
How can we apply this tip? Take a day (or even only just a few hours) and do some self-reflection. Do a little SWOT analysis and identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Through better self-awareness, you will be confident in solving your problems and will contribute to the improvement of self-efficacy.
Social support is a very integral factor in overcoming problems. Withdrawal from interacting with loved-ones might cause feelings of loneliness and discouragement. Life is not meant to be lived alone. Nobody is an island. It is okay to share your feelings and problems with someone. It does not mean that you are adding burden to them. More often than not, people are willing to help. Just reach out to someone you trust. If you think you have no one to talk to, remember your family, friends, significant others, colleagues or even a mental health professional. There are billions of people in the world. Surely, there is someone who would listen and empathize. There is someone who would inspire or help you get out of the rut you are in. There is someone who can help.
How can we apply this tip? Re-connect with a friend or a family member. Meet up and do a catch-up session about the current happenings between the two of you. Call someone you love and chat. If you can, hug someone. Hugs are said to be instant stress reliever. Enjoy the warmth and comfort that hug brings.
Look forward with faith.
Resilient people trust life. They know that life is a series of ups and downs. They have accepted that life is and will never be perfect. They are thankful with rock bottom situations as this entails the opportunity to “bounce” back even higher.
Hope is another important thing in life. When you have hope, you believe in positive things that will come in the future. We can develop hope when we opt to look at the brighter side of life. We can have hope if we trust ourselves and the Higher Being governing us that there is truly something to look forward in life.
Aside from hope, purpose/meaning is also very vital. When a person knows what his purpose is, he can effectively bounce back after a challenge as he knows what it is he needs to do. Positive thinking is also a key factor.
How can we apply this tip? Set goals that you want to accomplish in the near future. Write your own bucket list of the things you want to do. Look back to these things when you feel unmotivated or down. Choose to always look at the brighter side of life.
MY PERSONAL STORY
Although I am still a work in progress when it comes to resilience, I had my fair share of triumph after hitting rock bottom. Let me share my own personal story. After a break-up a few years ago, I thought that life is meaningless. I thought there is nothing better for me. I was very bitter, negative and cynical. I lost hope that I would ever find love again. I believe this attitude was brought by my low self-esteem. I have nothing to look forward to. Until a church leader counseled me and he said that “the best antidote to a broken heart is giving or being charitable.” I took his advice and focused on my work as a counselor and with my duty in the church. I also reconnected with my family and bonded with my friends.
True enough, I regained my purpose when I realized how much impact I can make to other people. I realized that the world does not end with my broken heart. Instead, I can use it to make a difference in the world. I learned how loved I am by my family and friends. I realized there is so much to life than having a romantic partner.
The healing after a break-up was when I also felt the prettiest. I took the time to take care of myself. I worked out and I ate right. I started meditating and journaling. I started a new set of good habits and I felt great. However, I needed to work more on my mindset as I tend to be pessimistic. This was the time I read a lot of self-help articles, dived in to self-development and assessed my values in life. I held on to the belief that a friend once told me, “every heart break is a step towards the right person.” I started to find out what my values really are and what my goals are. I learned how it is I like to be treated by a future boyfriend. Finally, I realized my worth.
During that difficult time in my life, my life saver were my friends and family members who supported me all through out. They reminded me that love never ran out of my life after that person left me. They reminded me that they are still here no matter what happens. I also held on tight to the hope that there is something better in store for me. Though it is not easy, I learned to trust the timing of my life. Finally, the new knowledge I learned about myself pushed me to be a little more confident. My purpose in life is not dependent to that person. I learned I have the capability to create it myself.
Being okay after a rock bottom is not easy. Sometimes you will see you are moving forward, other times you will feel that you are going back to the bottom. It is normal, my dear. If you ever feel impatient with overcoming your setback, remember this:
I have decided to disable my blog’s IG account and connect my personal account to this blog. I realized after three weeks of managing both the blog’s IG and FB account plus maintaining my personal accounts too is difficult. I knew I needed to lessen the accounts I am managing so that I will be able to give more value to my audience.
If you want to follow me outside this blog, you can click on the links below. I promise to give value and positivity to your feed.
- This is my personal account where I post bits and pieces about my life. I often post IG stories too about my realization on things as well as my advocacies (e.g. mental health and environment).
- This is where I post recent blog posts as well as other uplifting posts. If you are looking for a break from a toxic feed full of rants, horrible news and other things, you will surely enjoy the things I post here in the FB page. Like us now and tell your friends about it!
Philippines A Happier Country in 2019, Says UN Study. Retrieved from https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/03/21/19/philippines-a-happier-country-in-2019-says-un-study
Resilience in Positive Psychology: Bouncing Back and Going Strong. Retrieved from https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/resilience-in-positive-psychology/
The Road to Resilience. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience