5 Ways To Harness Micro Resilience
Life will suckerpunch you in the face.
Life can be a mean son of a bitch. It's true.
The inverse is also true. Life is amazing and magical and full of possibility, joy and love. One cannot exist without the other. We live in a world of opposites. As Socrates (that grey bearded philosopher dude from Athens) stated; "Asserting the existence of a thing also asserts the existence of its opposite."
It's like the story of the two wolves. An old Cherokee was teaching his grandson an important life lesson and said: "There is a fight going on inside of me. It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego." "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."
The grandson thought about it for a while and asked: "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee simply replied: "The one you feed."
Here's the thing; life will suckerpunch you in the face.
What matters most is how you react to it. Because you do have options. You may not choose what happens to you, but you can choose how to react to it. You just have to train yourself to identify those options and choose which wolf you want to feed. You can either get knocked down, stay down, wait till the count of ten and admit defeat. (Feeding the Evil Wolf)
Or, you can get back up and kick life right in the lemons. That's how I make lemonade? This technique might not scream of 'feeding the good wolf', but it does display tenacity, hope and resilience. Resilience is your ability to bounce back after a setback. Like a ball. You get thrown to the floor, and your level of resilience will determine how long it takes for you to bounce back. There are evidence based 'hacks' you can implement on a daily basis to harness Micro Resilience. But we'll get to that in a moment.
When I was about 8 or 9 years old, I told my parents that I wanted to be scientist (a neuroscientist to be exact) when I grew up. I will never forget the expression on their faces, best described as a look of befuddlement. I grew up in a lower middle class family riddled with alcoholism, narcissism and sexual abuse. From a very young age I have always had this inherent need to understand how things work. Testing out tools and techniques. Keeping what works, throwing out what doesn't; and then sharing my knowledge and experiences with others. Even though I never had the financial means to go to University, I never stopped studying. And in a way, I fulfilled that dream, as a scientist is described as someone who discovers new things and research how things work. They observe, measure, and communicate results to people.
Since announcing that I am changing my vocation to work within the mental health industry; I have had both phenomenal support and my integrity and sanity questioned within a 24-hour window. "How can someone who is highly skilled and experienced in motorcycle training suddenly become a mental health counselor and coach?" And my favourite: "I don't believe you ever did ride around Africa. I think you suffer from delusions as a result of the drugs you're on." I'll admit this one made me LoL. Cyber bullying is alive and well.
Is it so inconceivable that a person can be more than one thing? Now, I can tell you about how I've suffered both emotional and sexual abuse throughout my life. How I've had experience dealing with anxiety, panic attacks, depression, PTSD, dissociative symptoms and suicidality for over 30 years. How close I came to dying 3 years ago and waking up in ICU from a coma with organ failure, then flying to South America to lead a motorcycle tour, two months later.
I can tell you that I have an IQ of 145 and have read more doctoral and scientific dissertations, journals and articles than the average human being has. That I have volunteered as a counselor in a suicide hotline call centre weeks after I'd tried taking my own life, to try and gain an understanding of underlying conditions that lead people to suicide and how to be a more helpful counselor. Does that make me a doctor? Absolutely not.
Does it make me a registered therapist? Nope.
Do I have diplomas with fancy stamps on them? Well a few. I am a certified counselor, CBT practitioner and life coach. I've earned a number of short online course certificates in psychology, counseling, neuroscience and positive psychiatry and mental health though Yale, The University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins.
Again; does this make me a registered mental health professional? No.
What it does is equip me with a keen understanding, a wealth of knowledge and first hand experience of both ends of the spectrum.
When I rode through Libya on my solo circumnavigation of the African continent, everyone and their dog tried to convince me that I was crazy and on a suicide mission. Even the South African Embassy wrote me off. There was no way I could rationally explain to anyone how I knew that 'this is what I needed to do'.
Every time I've tried giving up, the Universe simply refused to allow me to. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that I've had to walk the path I have in life, to get to this point. So I can serve others by sharing my experience and knowledge. Maybe it seem irrational or crazy to some. But you know what? “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” – Who said that?
Now - as promised: 5 WAYS TO HARNESS MICRO RESILIENCE:
1. TECHNIQUES TO HELP YOUR BRAIN BE LESS EXHAUSTED
Mental exhaustion is something that anyone can experience when exposed to stress for extended periods of time. It can make you feel overwhelmed and it can make your daily tasks and responsibilities seem insurmountable.
What to do? - Multitasking makes you less productive, lowers your IQ in overall efficiency and exhausts your brain. So try and practice singular focus when it comes to completing tasks.
- When you're interrupted, it can take 3 to 4 times longer to complete a task. Set clear boundaries for when people can or cannot interrupt you when you're in the zone. Maybe put a sign up that says: "In the Zone - Do Not Disturb or face losing a limb".
- Make a checklist. A checklist is something that you do repeatedly that can save mental energy. Ex. A checklist for before you leave home, or for when you arrive at work, or before you go into a meeting. This way you can free up mental energy to focus on more interesting things vs mundane everyday things we need to do.
- Take notes to free up mental space.
2. DEALING WITH EMOTIONAL EXHAUSTION
We have a far more intense reaction towards the negative than we do to the positive. That's why bad/ or fake news spreads 6 times faster than good news and/or the truth. Why? Well, our brains were designed that way. Way back when we were living in caves, a stirring in the bushes potentially could've meant a predator presenting us with a life or death situation. We still carry that response mechanism within us and when triggered, it delivers high amounts of the two stress hormones; Adrenaline and Cortisol. It's commonly referred to as the 'Amygdala Hijack'. A car suddenly brakes in front of you, the stress hormones trigger the body's fight or flight response. Air passages dilate to allow more oxygen to be delivered to your muscles and adrenaline triggers the blood vessels to supply more blood to major muscle groups. For some people this can happen in the work environment when you suffer from anxiety. A simple event like a performance evaluation can trigger your fight or flight response, which in turn can make you behave in an irrational or inappropriate manner.
What to do?
- Put together a 'Sensory First Aid Kit'. You can read up more about sensory profiles on Google or sign up for one of my courses online where I take you through the steps to understanding your individual sensory profile.
- Examples of what you can put in your sensory first aid kit: A fidget spinner, something that you enjoy smelling like cinnamon or a vanilla candle. Listening to a song you enjoy. Looking at pictures of your children or pets. Things that you can use to distract and calm yourself when your fight/flight response has been triggered.
3. STRENGTHEN YOUR MUSCLE TOWARD THE POSITIVE
- As stated above, we have more intense emotional reactions towards the negative than we do the positive. A more optimistic attitude enhances creativity, relationships with others and productivity. How can we reframe our attitude?
What to do?
- Dispute your beliefs with the ABCDE approach:
A. Identify the Adverse event
B. Clarify your Beliefs about it
C. List the Consequences based on those beliefs
D. Dispute your beliefs and view the event in a new light (Did you have a bad day or just
a bad hour?) (Did Karen not saying good morning mean she hates you or maybe she
was just distracted?)
E. Energise the new belief by taking action (Now that you have figured out that you were
just having a bad hour and not a bad day, and that Karen doesn't hate you; you can
reset your attitude and tackle that project with a more positive frame of mine. Maybe
even buy Karen a cup of coffee and ask her what's on her mind?
4. REFRESH YOUR BODY
The connection between physical health, mental efficiency and emotional wellbeing is well documented. Dehydration impairs cognitive function and creates that feeling of experiencing brain fog. We can live without food for approximately 3 weeks. Water for 3 days. Oxygen for 3 minutes. The human body is about 60% water. We're basically houseplants with more complicated emotions that need regular watering.
What to do
- Keep a bottle of water filled and take sips every few minutes
- People who religiously hydrate, forget to do so when experiencing stress. This is when it is
especially important to hydrate.
- You can download a habit tracking app and set it up so you'll receive reminders throughout
the day to hydrate. Or simply set up reminders on your smartphone.
5. RENEW YOUR SPIRIT
A study on 6000 different people over a 14 year period showed that finding a direction for life, and setting goals for what you want to achieve, can help you actually live longer. Regardless of WHEN you find your purpose. There are a number of online sources for finding one's purpose.
What to do
- Examine your values and goals in an in-depth manner to come up with what gives your life
joy and meaning. Then create a prioritised list of goals.
- Try to eliminate at least one thing on your weekly calendar that does nothing to renew your
spirit and spend that time doing something you love instead.
- Self care saves lives! Google 'self care activities' to come up with a list of things you can
focus on when putting together a self care routine.
I hope you have found this helpful!
For any questions or feedback please don't hesitate to get in touch. Simply click here. Namasté Jo Rust