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12 Ways to Make a Comeback

Have you ever been given a last-minute project? Had your schedule changed in a way that is stressful on the rest of your life? Lost a job? Been given a pay cut? Felt like you had to regroup or literally reinvent yourself because a situation forced you to do so? Life can sometimes knock you into uncharted territory where resilience is required.

Resilience, or the “ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change,” is a valuable life skill that gives us the ability to recover from a fall. It’s not magical, nor is it innate. The good news is that it is a skill we can learn through observation of others, research or personal experience. You can develop and improve these skills at any point in your life, and they can help you negotiate any challenge.

Years ago my client Melinda had a great job working for a mom and pop company. The company was struggling due to the economy, and she was told that she had to take a large pay cut or leave the organization. She was the main breadwinner in the family, as her husband had an unpredictable sales job, so this was a huge financial and emotional blow. She was angry with everyone.

All of this anger made her depressed and affected her ability to function at work and at home. She repeatedly told me that she was so upset that she did not even feel like going grocery shopping to feed her family. I was concerned but knew that if she worked on the steps toward resilience she would find her way.

Being resilient does not mean that you cannot be sad, angry, scared, anxious or depressed. Because not everyone has the same reaction to a situation, not everyone needs the same set of skills. The list below offers a dozen ways to get you back on course:

1. Allow yourself to feel. If you are sad, grab a box of tissues and cry as long as you need to. If you are angry, vent to a friend, have a vigorous workout or beat up an old pillow.

2. Remind yourself that change is a normal part of everyday life. Everyone has challenging moments.

3. Remind yourself of your strengths. If you have good intuition, trust your gut. If you’re a problem solver, then put those skills to use. Stay positive.

4. Rally your support system. Turn to friends, relatives, co-workers or professional advisers to brainstorm solutions and get support.

5. Make a realistic plan. Set goals and map out ideas on how to adapt and move forward.

6. Think about the long term. While the stress may be intense in the moment, imagine how things can improve over time.

7. Learn from your experience.

8. Do not beat yourself up. Kicking yourself when you are down will only make it harder to get up.

9. Practice good self-care. In times of stress, we all have a tendency to slack off on taking care of ourselves. Make sure to eat, rest and nurture yourself.

10. Be as flexible and open as possible. Consider other options. Do not limit yourself.

11. Find your courage. Even if the next days, weeks, months or years will be scary, face the fear, do not run from it

12. Infuse happiness into other areas of your life. Eat food that you love, take a hot bubble bath, go on a bike ride or hike with your favorite person. The happy and positive moments will keep your energy and spirits up.

So what did Melinda do? She had a good cry and vented her anger on paper until she realized that no one was at fault. She then took action, getting tips from finance-savvy friends to help her bosses save money so she could get some of her pay back. She brainstormed with her husband about how they could cut expenses and increase his commissions. And to improve her quality of life, she convinced her direct manager to let her leave at 3 p.m. every Wednesday so that she could pick up her kids from school and cook a special dinner, two things that she loved to do. Melinda not only used her resilience tools for herself, but she also used them to help her employer and family.

Life can be challenging, and circumstances can change at any moment. We live our lives within different contexts—work, school, home and social. Resilience can help us successfully negotiate challenges in any situation. It is never too late to learn to be flexible, calm and to understand our own power to bounce back.
This article originally appeared in the June 2015 edition of Live Happy magazine.
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