Building resilience is important. We face repeated and varied challenges and pressures. These might be work related, or to do with our close relationships or personal time and activities. Today, I’d like to show you the ABC of how you can turn things around so you develop the ‘bouncebackability’ you need to not just survive but flourish.
Clients share with me their worst fears about the situations they face and expect to face. Their fears limit them and often mask the variety of options available to them. Opening up their options means they can reach beyond their fears and see, perhaps for the first time, the possibilities. Once new possibilities are available, their resilience starts to grow.
Let’s take a real example. One lady was struggling in a difficult personal relationship. She wanted to be able to communicate some key things to her partner effectively and respectfully. Her fear was that she’d be sucked into doing things she didn’t want to do or say things that wouldn’t help the situation. She was stuck with this uncomfortable and limiting view of her world.
When we started to explore the other possibilities, she realised there were more options available to her. Each of these options felt more comfortable. She discovered that by changing her view of herself and the situation, she could choose not to get sucked into discussions she wanted to avoid. And she could still feel good about herself and respectful of others.
So, how can you deal with and bounce back from challenging situations?
The ABC approach to resilience
First, it’s good to acknowledge your fears. What do you fear might happen? What is the worst scenario position?
Then, recognise this is not the only option available to you. Which are the other possibilities? What might be the best that can happen here? What would you like to have happen?
Next, consider what might be the most likely scenario. This might be a more realistic version of your best scenario, perhaps.
You will probably now have at least 3 options available to you. Choose one that you’d like to happen and then work out how you can influence that. What can you do to make it more likely this possibility will come about?
With the lady I mentioned, we looked at how she’d like the discussion to go (rather than how she feared it might). We imagined things happening that way, how she’d be in that situation and what outcome would result. We then considered the things she could do, or do differently, to make it more likely the desired outcome would happen. This included her thoughts about being able to deal well with the situation, how she could respond, using breathing to help her stay calm. We also worked on changing her view of success to be how she was in the situation rather than any actual outcome.
You’ll be pleased to hear the approach worked. Her discussions went as well as they could, her anxiety reduced, and her view of herself being able to successfully cope with future situations improved. She was starting to realise that she did have power, even in the most challenging situations, was able to take an active part in changing things for the better, and could have a positive impact in getting the outcomes she wanted. Her resilience, in difficult circumstances, was already strengthening.
There’s a useful acronym to help remember this approach to building resilience – ABC.
Acknowledgement of the situation and how you feel
Belief you can change and make a difference
Choose to change
The last item – choosing to change, and then doing something about it – is key. This is you taking an active part in getting the outcome you want, and taking responsibility for this. It may include changing your thoughts about the situation, yourself, or the world, choosing how you will respond, finding and accessing the support you need, or even choosing to get out of the situation altogether.
What do you need to do to make your worst scenario less likely and the best scenario more likely?
Then do it!