Dealing with a problem makes you stronger...
By- Krishni Gunawardena Therapist/ Counselor
Life now and again will throw challenges at us, so developing resilience is essential to fight the times of crisis.
Setbacks should never be seen as a failure, but instead as a valuable lesson that can only make us stronger. Roshi, 38 who shone with confidence through University and building her academic career, found herself reeling when she had to face her husband’s infidelities and the marriage break-up.
"My husband and I divorced after 3 years and I felt devastated and stupid for not seeing it coming". She says all sorts of negative thoughts kept coming into her mind. "I started seeing myself as I felt others saw me; a failure. Not only in my marriage but in everything I did." She used to think "if I got one thing so very wrong, how could I do well in other departments?"
To avoid this trap therapists say it’s important not to see things in black and white. They say not to assume that if something is not a total success that it must be a total failure.
Even in a problem there are aspects which can be worked well and aspects that cannot be worked well. There can be many causes beyond our control. So it’s important not to judge ourselves that harshly.
According to research women are particularly prone to taking things personally and to allow setbacks to shake their sense of self.
Cognitive behavior techniques can be an effective way of challenging the increasing negative emotions. With each set back we must question our responses.
"If you think that you are a failure, is it as a wife? A mother? A colleague? Or a boss? Always think of the better perspective.
We must concentrate more and learn from the better perspectives in life. It’s important to get inspiration from people who have had setbacks and come out stronger than ever. Being seen as someone who can and have the strength to overcome difficulties and challenges can be useful.
Five years after her divorce Roshi has indeed come out stronger. "The divorce did lead me to re assess myself and my life and I ended up making some changes. She was happy knowing that she gave her marriage the best shot but realized that certain things were beyond her control.
"I don’t blame myself, but I’ve recognized my part and taken some of the responsibility. She says, "The relationship I am in now feels much more honest, more committed kinder than my marriage ever did"
Roshi is planning to marry her partner next year. Roshan-her partner- too has had a painful break-up before. They both are very positive this time around partly because ‘we have both experienced a painful breakup and know what is at stake’ they say, they also know that whatever happens-if something goes horribly wrong-they can survive.
This whole learning process, going through pain is a reason to be more confident, not less.
We must nurture characteristics of resilience including being able to bounce back from adverse situations and having a ‘can do’ attitude to life.
One way of improving your resilience is to identify a confident, resilient role model from the past or present who exemplifies the quality you admire and would like for yourself. When your confidence is slipping think of your role model and how she/he coped. This way you can get inspiration to tap in to your resilience and step into a more positive attitude to see you through the challenges you face.
More thoughts on how to develop resilience;
• Try to see problems as opportunities
• It’s always good to avoid problems, but some are beyond your control. But once you are faced with it, focus and give it your best shot.
• Be flexible in different situations
• Make the most of what comes your way.
• Do things that give meaning to your life.
• Most importantly, have a warm and nurturing friendship-support net-work.