Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How Do You Handle The Roller Coaster?

I have wondered for years why some people can bounce back from problems quickly while others seemed to get stuck.  Examples of these situation are: a couple that can or cannot reconnect after an argument...a child not adjusting or “fitting in” at school....an adult struggling with loneliness after a divorce.  These are just a few examples of problems that require people to make changes.  One of the few constants in life is-- there will always be change. The ability to handle those changes is resilience.  

Several days ago I posted an article talking about the importance of resiliency and how shame affects our ability to react and change.  If you are resilient, change is easier and you are able to work and grow into the change.  Keep in mind God is working in your life and growing you into the image of Christ. Two ways you can develop or strengthen resiliency is improve your life coping skills and gain a more hopeful, positive, and teachable attitude.

A Reminder: What is resilience?
Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; a toughness, or an ability to bounce back quickly, like elasticity.  It does not mean you won't have stress or problems. It is the capacity to handle stress and problems.  When a person is resilient they can work through emotions, pain and the effects of difficulties and stress.  They have the capacity to rebuild their  life even after tragedies.  Resilience is a process.  It develops as we grow and gain knowledge, attitude and skills.

The metaphor I use to describe resilience is comparing a “teacup” to a “washtub”.  They both hold things but the capacity is radically different.  We all have a natural capacity to deal with life.  Some have more capacity, others less.  How do you grow your ability to manage life?  Or how do you develop more capacity to handle the roller coaster or life? You develop two things:

  • Life Coping Skills
  • An Attitude that is hopeful, positive, and teachable.  

Lets focus on Life Coping Skills first.  Later this week I will post about attitude.  

Skills that we develop over our life are the activities that make us productive and happy. They are the emotional and relational skills that you add over the life span. They are the characteristics or tendencies your parents modeled and taught.  Or the skills that a coach, teacher or pastor explained. Some skills stand out because they come from our wounds, struggles and perceived failures.  These are things like a bad relational break-ups or the job promotion you didn't get. Perhaps you have come to a place where you want to add positive skills and qualities to your life. The key to this is "attitude" and we will talk about another day.  Below are life skills that can help build resiliency:

  • Develop healthy techniques to cope with stress
  • Develop ability to manage emotions and impulses
  • Help others
  • Don't see yourself as a powerless victim
  • Maintain a positive, realistic view of your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Maintain close relationship with friends and family
  • Seek help and resources - Don't isolate
  • Very Important - Ask others to help you take an inventory of your relationship strengths and emotional skills. Sometimes when we are stressed and hurt we need someone to help us see truth.

Don’t get discouraged reading this list.  You have to start somewhere.  Pick an item on the list and explore it, Google it, talk to significant people in your life.  Become a curious learner and grow.  If you just try to grow one or two items on this list you will be amazed at how it will affect your ability to deal with the highs and lows of life.  

My mind is simple.  So I need to focus on what I can actually change.  The only thing I can change is myself.  My ability to develop skills has to be my focus, not all the things that others do or don’t do.  I can’t control what they do but I can control how I react.  

Look for the next good thing coming.  Life is like a roller coaster, there are twists and turns, highs and lows; but at the end of the adventure, although it scared you, although it took your breath away it also excited you. The feeling you have when you step off into the real world is that of exhilaration, because you persevered through it. You have what it takes to finish well!

How has your life helped you to build coping skills?  What skills do you already possess?  What skills got you through your last downward spiral?  You already have some tools in your tool box, they just need to be sharpened or refocused.
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