Do you have what it takes to weather a storm intact, or would you crumble like a leaf at the first clap of thunder?
In order to have the best chance of remaining strong in difficult times, and flourishing in good times, you may need to turn the way you think about the world upside down.
Most people are brought up to believe that they are responsible for other people’s feelings, and that other people are responsible for theirs. Do any of these sound familiar?
‘She made me do it!’
‘They make me so mad’
‘He won’t let me quit’
‘But if I don’t agree she will make my life hell’
‘If I don’t, they’ll talk about me behind my back’
You end up twisting yourself into knots trying to please other people, and then become upset, angry or sad when other people don’t behave in the way you think they ‘should’. This can also extend to the way the world is: expecting the world to work in a certain way, and then getting upset when you don’t get the results you expect. This is reflected in statements such as:
‘But it’s just not fair!’
‘I had no other choice’
Looking at life this way causes you to feel powerless, because this worldview assumes that you have no control over your feelings, and that other people/events can control your actions. You are simply at the mercy of other people and external events.
Feeling this way, especially in the face of other’s not liking you, or difficult external circumstances, is what leads to anxiety, stress and depression. For example, it can manifest like this:
Anxiety – feeling afraid because you can’t control a situation, and don’t think you can cope with the situation if you don’t control it
Stress – feeling overwhelmed because you feel that demands of other people/the world are greater than your capacity to meet them
Depression – Feeling hopeless and helpless about how you can change your situation
Resilient people, people who are able to rise to challenges and overcome problems, have a different attitude to the world. They feel powerful. They look to change what they can when disappointed, they feel able to cope if other people/events don’t behave/turn out as they would like. They don’t bend to other people’s will if it compromises their own preferences and values, and they see problems not as a reason to stop, but an opportunity to demonstrate their resourcefulness, determination, patience, or another aspects of good character.
It takes time to re-calibrate the focus of our happiness from one where external events and people are responsible for our mood, to one where we acknowledge that we are the source of our own happiness. You also need to start to measure your happiness not based on how much other people like you, or how many rewards you receive from the world, but to base your life’s worth on how well, and how often, you are able to live by and uphold your values (and if you’re not sure what they are, well, that’s a whole ‘nother blog post).
However, the rewards are worth it. Feeling powerful – in the sense of being able to shape your own destiny, and influence your own moods, is strongly associated with living a life which feels satisfying and meaningful, and which will protect you from mental health problems including stress, anxiety and depression when those storms hit.
Psychological sessions can benefit anyone who struggles with resilience. The techniques involved in changing your mindset are applicable to everyone – whether you’re suffering deep depression, or doing quite well but want to be doing even better. The differences are in the level that you work at, the goals you aim to achieve, and the speed at which you can expect to see results.
Do you want to be more resilient? Contact me today to book your session and get started today on building a mindset that will allow you to flourish, in any weather.
Lana Hall, Psychologist. Helping you to live your best life, using the power of psychology.