Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve the silence?

- Sathya Sai Baba

Building Resilience

29 January 2021
Emma White

‘Life’s not about how hard you can hit.   It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.’

How resilient are you?   When life gets you down, what tools do you have to pick yourself up and carry on?

We are all able to choose how we respond to set-backs, criticism and pain in our lives.   It’s about having the strength of mind to know that this is the case, and the courage to act on it.

‘The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place.
I don’t care how tough you are,
It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.

You, me or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.
But it ain’t about how hard you hit,
It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.
How much you can take and keep moving forward.

That’s how winning is done.’

- Rocky Balboa (Rocky Balboa, 2006)

This quote was shared with me several years ago.   It resonated with me at the time and has stayed with me since, bringing me motivation and inspiration to keep going when things get tough.

But resilience does not always come naturally.   It is a mindset, and like many other mindsets, it can be seen as a muscle which needs to be trained.   Speaking from my own experience, and drawing from what I have learnt from my own practice and study of yoga, I have found the following tools to be useful in building the resilience to keep moving forward.

It is useful to always keep in mind that, whilst we cannot control many external factors and events in our lives, we can control our response to them.   Having an awareness of how we automatically react to events emotionally, mentally and physically is the first step to being able to change and control our response to directing it in a more productive and positive direction.   Both yoga and meditation can teach us this awareness.

But when we experience set-backs, criticism and pain in our lives, how can we choose to respond to become more resilient?

1) Have a positive mindset – look for anything positive, any silver lining, that you can take away, and use to your growth or advantage as you move forward.   Turn the situation into one of growth and opportunity.   What can you learn from your experience?   If you take a moment to look back at your life now, and think of the growth or turning points, when you took an important step, or made a big decision or realisation, you might see that many of them arose following periods of pain or set-back.   So when you are in one of these dips or difficult times, try to remember that it will end, and you will likely emerge stronger and with useful lessons and experiences that you can carry with you moving forward.

2) Let go of what has happened in the past.   Once a painful situation has occurred, try to let it go and direct your attention on what is happening in the present, appreciating all that you have now, rather than spending time dwelling on memories.

3) Take some time to visualise what you would like to have happen in your life moving forward, putting your attention on what can go right (rather than getting caught up in worries of possible further set-backs).   Make it be something that excites you, and perhaps scares you a little (fear is good as it shows that you are moving outside of your comfort zone, and so growing).   Set yourself a clear focus for the next period of your life that you can move towards.   Make it something that can be controlled somewhat by your own actions, and slowly start to take steps that will move you towards that vision.

4) Be kind to yourself.   Treat yourself with patience, gentleness and compassion if things do not come easily at first, and certainly don’t beat yourself up about anything which you think you did or didn’t do.   Listen to your body, and if you need time to rest then take it.   Do things that you enjoy, eat food that nourishes and satisfies you, and take time to care for yourself.   Build up your own inner strength and love so that you can share it with others.

So next time you get hit, in whatever sense that may be, see if you can take a pause before launching straight into reactivity, and instead choose a response and a mindset that will keep you moving forward.

Emma striking a yoga pose on a beach in the sunset

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“Emma is excellent at nurturing both the mind and body during the yoga sessions. I can come to one of her classes after a busy day of work and feel serene and strong.”

- Zoe