Ever have one of those weeks where nothing goes right? When it all goes to hell in a handbasket?

When you just can’t seem to get a break?

For me, it was last week. It seemed to me, several times a day, things would go wrong. First, it started out small, each thing taking some extra time but adding to my frustration. First, it was getting the printer to work. I was holding a workshop and I had some handouts I needed to be printed. I bumbled my way through before I ended up having to throw in the towel and head off to Staples for some quick printing.

So, not a huge deal but on my way there my wiper blade broke. It wasn’t a crucial moment, not like it rains here in Winnipeg in February, but the roads were slushy and the sun shining, so a dirty windshield was not a wanted addition.

I didn’t handle the wiper with as much grace as I did the printer, but I got it looked after and all was well, I thought…

But it was only Monday. The whole week was riddled with small events like these: running out of dog food, forgetting my wallet at the grocery store, dropping the bag of icing sugar on the floor, dealing with a rental complaint and managing a volunteer experience gone bad. Just my luck!

And normally, I would have been able to handle each one of these events without them ruining my day. Yet, when they started to pile up, I started to buckle.

Perhaps you can relate when Murphy’s Law kicks in; when things go wrong, they really go wrong. We begin to feel helpless, out of control and heavy. Those things that happened to me last week, I believe have all happened to me before. It wasn’t the first time the printer didn’t work or the dog helped me clean up the icing sugar on the floor (last time he got sick on top of being sticky). I lived through all those times before, so why so hard now? I didn’t have any more or less control then so why did the universe have it out for me?

Each unexpected event draws on our reserves of resilience. We build up our tank so we are able to deal with life’s bumps and potholes along the way. This is our emotional resilience. When our stores are low, from dealing with all the little bits of frustration, we don’t have the capacity, empathy or perseverance to manage when the big thing hits. When our stores of emotional resilience are low, the more susceptible we are to overwhelm. 

Emotional Resilience is our ability to adapt to stressful situations, to calm your frantic mind and to be able to perceive each one of these events as isolated and temporary occurrences. To keep overwhelm at bay, we need to build and maintain our internal motivation and not allow setbacks to demotivate us. And yes, I said “allow” because it is entirely within our control to determine how we are influenced by these potentially overwhelming events.

 

 

Emotional resilience is like a 3-legged stool, stool with each element an essential part of having a solid place to land. When one leg is shorter than the others, not only can we have an unsteady place to land, but we may even fall right off.

 The art of practicing emotional resilience encompasses 3 areas:

  1. Self-Compassion:

This is the practice of offering yourself understanding and kindness when you are suffering. Self-compassion is the same as when we show compassion to others but turned inward towards ourselves. It is usually something we aren’t taught or shown as a tool as we grow up and many learn self-compassion later in life. It is something we practice. One key practice I use is to focus on our inner critic and how we speak to ourselves. Before we know how to truly embrace self-compassion, our inner critic can speak to us in harsh and disrespectful ways. Working with how you talk to yourself helps you create a blueprint of respect, kindness and compassion focus inward to one’s self. You can click here to download your Inner Critic Guide to Practicing Kindness here.

  1. Self- Belief:

This is the strength and magnitude of your belief in yourself to know or be able to find the answers. It is a trust in your own abilities and judgements. Here at the website of Mindvalley.com, they outline the benefits of having self-belief. Allowing yourself to make mistakes, learn and grow from opportunity and believing in the goals you set.  “If you believe you can reach your goals, then your mind operates with the highest possible amount of receptivity to detect opportunities.”

Building self-belief comes with understanding your mindset around goals, your abilities, and how flexible your thinking is. Any limiting beliefs you may have prevent you from building a strong sense of your abilities. One key practice is to simply begin acknowledging your accomplishments. Our brains are wired to remember the negative. A survival technique passed down through our ancestors. But recording, acknowledging and celebrating our victories, regardless of size, build the brain’s capacity to recognize the good in believing in ourselves.

 

  1. Self- Awareness

Self-Awareness is the leg that gets the most attention in literature and practice. Self-awareness practice is linked to such things as meditation, yoga, breathing, journaling, and even personality and psychometric testing. Self-awareness is our own consciousness of our thoughts, experiences and abilities. Personally, I have undertaken the study of NLP (Neuroligustic Programming) to help with uncovering and developing my own self-awareness and learning the tools to help my clients uncover theirs.

 

My ability to handle the events of last week ended with me recognizing that each one of these events was alone in occurring. The printer was not cavorting with the wiper blades. Recognizing this and how I approach each event is entirely up to me and completely within my control. And it is a practice. I’m not going to get it right at first every time, but I will show myself grace and compassion to keep trying.

 Working…practicing…our self-compassion, self-belief and self-awareness fill the reserves, so we have the capacity to show ourselves compassion when faced with the unexpected. Having a solid stool encompasses the ability to bring our mind and our intention back to being in the very moment we desire to be in. The better able we are to do that, the less time we waste being stuck. Emotional resilience essentially gives us time back, the time we would otherwise spend worrying, frustrated and reactive. With more time, not only can we spend it doing the important things, we head off overwhelm.