10 ways to roll with life’s punches better

Awareness of the importance of resilience has increased over the past few years. But what is resilience?

Most definitions will say that resilience is the capacity of an individual to manage difficult situations by using psychological, social, cultural and physical resources available to them and be able to work out how to use these resources in a meaningful way.

IN SHORT, RESILIENCE IS:

• The ability to bounce back when faced with stress or pressure

• The ability to fall and pick yourself up

• Knowing when to persevere or decide to stop doing something

• Be able to accept the new reality, even when it is less good, and work to create something that is good enough

• Being able to ask for appropriate help.

RESILIENT PEOPLE ARE NOT:

• Always positive and upbeat

• Know how to achieve things on their own

• Never give up

• Tend to be perfectionists.

RESILIENT PEOPLE ARE:

• Less prone to stress

• Have strong problem solving skills

• Accept difficulties as part of life

• Be aware of the situation, their feelings and how other people are behaving

• Accept what they are responsible for and what other people are responsible for

• Experience greater satisfaction in life

• Know how to effectively manage social and emotional areas of life

• More optimistic

• Not afraid to ask for help

• Less afraid of facing life’s challenges

• Know life can be difficult and doing new things is scary but do them anyway

• Have a strong sense of self and are more confident in their own abilities

• Are creative

• Identify as a survivor not a victim.

BUILDING UP YOUR RESILIENCE

Now you have an idea of what resilience is. Maybe you are thinking you don’t have those skills. Don’t worry, you can build up your resilience.

Here are 10 things you can do to build up your resilience.

  1. When you experience challenges in life, pay attention to what you are feeling, how you are reacting, what your body is feeling. Pay attention also to words or statements that are running through your head. Be particularly aware of statements that tell you that you can’t do this, you are useless, have done something bad, this always happens to me, I shouldn’t be upset by this, I should be able to manage this and so on. Choose to see the experience as something that is outside you, rather than part of you. This means you need to separate your negative words from being about you.
  2. Note the attitudes you have around difficulties in life. Again, this is best expressed in your self talk. You may find your self talk is making statements about why this is happening or how hard it will be to cope. These attitudes sound like facts but they are actually unhelpful habitual statements that hold you back. Challenge those thoughts. Are they actually true? Tell yourself those statements are not the truth and that you have the skills, or know who to turn to for help.
  3. Derail those unhelpful thoughts with the following practice: STOP Take a few deep, slow breaths Notice what is being said in your mind Identify the thoughts as visitors with opinions, not statements of who you are Choose how you are going to proceed.
  4. Establish a daily practice of mindfulness. Take a few minutes out to just sit quietly and pay attention to your breath. Allow yourself to not engage with any thoughts you are thinking. They will come, but you can just notice them and let them go. Practice this at least daily, or a few times a day. when you practice this regularly you can use this when challenging things happen to give yourself time to collect your thoughts and make decisions more effectively.
  5. Reach out to others for help.
  6. Be aware of the reactions you have when things are difficult. Allow yourself to react, be upset, be angry, feel powerless. Allow yourself time out to explore those feelings. Exploring them mindfully can help. Allow yourself time to sit with the feelings and let them settle. When you feel calmer you can make decisions on how to act.
  7. Choose to change your inner dialogue. That is the one where you make a mistake and tell yourself you are useless. Change that so that you say you made a mistake and that is okay. This is a practice you can practice always so that when difficulties arise you don’t default to the negative thoughts. Choose to see your strengths. When you feel calm enough explore what skills and strengths you have that can help you.
  8. Don’t fight the difficulties. They have happened and no amount of thinking or railing against it will change things. Explore what you control and what you can’t. The things you control are things you can work through. Those things you can’t control are either things you may be able to seek help from someone else for or are things that you accept and work out how to work with.
  9. Develop an action plan with clearly defined and measurable steps to work through. Start off with one small thing you can do that will move you in the direction you want to go in.
  10. Remember to look after yourself. Take time out regularly to do things you enjoy and relax you. This allows you to be well rested and less stressed when difficult things happen. That way you are in the best place to work through the difficulties.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you develop resilience, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

When your anger is really grief

“I sat with my anger long enough until she told me her real name was grief” C.S.Lewis

I read this quote a long time ago. At the time it really resonated with me. I felt like that over the death of my mother. I had a family that didn’t communicate so I couldn’t talk to my family about it. My husband was sympathetic but he didn’t really understand it at the time. I most certainly was not going to talk to my children about it.

I thought I was going mad.

ELIZABETH KUBLER ROSS AND THE “STAGES” OF DEATH

As a teenager I had read the Elizabeth Kubler Ross books about death and dying and the “stages” of grief. But what I was experiencing didn’t make sense in that formula people were using for grief.

WHAT WE KNOW NOW ABOUT GRIEF

What I didn’t know until I studied counselling was that many other theorists had come after her and their theories made a lot more sense of my experience.

It was many years before I went to a grief group and discovered that my feelings were normal.

Since then I have sat with many people grieving loss and seen their anger as well.

The difference is that now, I can reassure them that what they are feeling, although distressing for them and those around them, is completely normal.

WHEN ANGER IS GRIEF

People come to see me about anger and discover that anger is masking grief.

Children are particularly prone to anger as an expression of grief. There is not much understanding about how children grieve.

HOW CHILDREN GRIEVE

A child will be sad and then go off and play. An adult watching that may reassure themselves that the child is over it. But they aren’t. The grief is still there, they are just attending to the other needs of life.

The grief a child feels may surface months or years later, often as anger and disengagement with school. It takes a long time to process grief. Don’t think that because a child appears happy they are over the grief.

HOW ADULTS CAN GRIEVE THAT WAY TOO

Adults can have similar experiences too.

It is worthwhile considering that your reactivity and swiftness to become angry is actually a reaction to grief. That the anger is trying to tell you to address something in you that is unresolved.

THE DANGER OF SUPPRESSING GRIEF

Grief that is not acknowledged or is suppressed often becomes anger because while you are suppressing your grief your brain and body feels abandoned and ignored. Your brain builds narratives that are not correct and develops assumptions about things. This creates a conflict in your mind and often results in anger.

GIVING GRIEF ITS IDENTITY

This reminds me of an exercise I often use with people who come to me for grief counselling. I also use it with people who come to me experiencing anger.

The exercise is based on the concept that strong emotions are signals to you about things you need to deal with.

In order to deal with those things, you need to be able to listen to your emotions.

My exercise is around centring with some focused breathing and preferably eyes closed.

Once you are centred, ask the feeling who it is. What does it want? What does it want you to know?

I then ask you to draw that feeling. On the drawing write down things the feeling has said. Who it is, what it wants and what it wants you to know.

Interestingly, I have never had anyone find that this emotion wishes them harm. It is always that it is there to help and it has wisdom to impart.

I have had angry people surprised at discovering the feeling is grief and that it wants to help them.

I have also had grieving people surprised to discover that grief loves and cares for them and wants to guide them through this time. Not the way many people see grief.

LEARNING TO BE

Learn to sit with your feelings. If it helps, ask them who they are, what they want and that they want you to know. Then draw them and write down their words. You may be surprised and reassured at what you find.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief or emotions you are experiencing, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

Why my mistakes are not me

Have you noticed how people use shaming language?

Let me explain.

A small child is struggling to do something which is beyond their age related ability to complete. An impatient parent grabs the item from them saying: “You are so useless, I’ll do it”.

A child in school forgets to write their name on their exam paper. The teacher hands the other students their papers and announces in a loud voice that xx is a failure yet again because they didn’t put their name on their paper.

You make a mistake and your self talk immediately tells you how useless you are for making that mistake.

SHAMING LANGUAGE MAKES YOU BELIEVE YOU ARE USELESS

Can you relate to any of these examples?

I sure can.

How do you respond to the shaming of these examples and other incidents?

Do you believe those words are true and you are shameful? Do you then try to suppress those feelings of shame?

CHANGING THE LANGUAGE OF SHAME

What if instead of shaming and suppressing you changed the language?

What if you reframed those words instead?

Instead of:

• “You are useless” because you made a mistake. Try “I made a mistake”

• “you are so stupid” because you did something you think is wrong try “that was not the best idea” or “that idea didn’t work. What else can I try?”.

• “Why does this happen to me?” Try “Oh this is interesting, what can I learn from this?”

• “Why can’t I do this?” Try “how can I make this work?”

• “Why is this happening?” Try “what can I do to change this?”

• “How could they do this to me?” Try “how can I use this?”

• “Why can’t I make enough money?” Try “how can I add more value?”

• “Why is there never enough time?” Try “what can I alter to fit in these things I really want in my life.”

• “I am so useless, I don’t know how to do this”. Try “I don’t know how to do this, who can I ask for help?”

QUESTIONING THE LANGUAGE OF SHAME

When those thoughts pop into your head try asking yourself:

• Is it true? (Am I really stupid?)

• Is it sensible? (to think I am stupid)

• Is it helpful? (to say this about me – short answer NO)

After you have established what you have just said is not true, sensible or helpful, try reframing it.

REVIEWING THE THINGS YOU DO TO SEE THE POSITIVE ACTIONS

When you do something, it can be really helpful to review how it went. Next time try asking yourself these questions?

• What went well?

• What can be done differently next time?

• Is there anything I need to ask someone about, or learn more about?

I AM NOT MY ACTIONS

Don’t buy into shaming yourself. You are human which means you make mistakes. You don’t always know how to do anything. You don’t always get things right. The mistakes you make are not you they are just actions.

As a child once told her teacher – I am not messy I am making a mess. (Brené Brown).

There is a distinction.

One is wrong (I am messy) and one is right (I am making a mess).

Make sure your self talk switches to the statement that is right.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you learn to see yourself as the wonderful person you are, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz

The Importance of Ritual in Grief

In the past, most people who were dying died at home and in many countries the deceased person was placed in the coffin in the front room, where they stayed until the funeral.

In our modern world. Funeral homes have replaced the front room and viewings are planned and something those paying for the funeral have to pay for.

Instead of home, death is hidden away in hospitals, nursing homes and palliative care units. It is less common for people to die at home.

WHAT TO DO IN THOSE EARLY DAYS

In my work I see many people in that initial stage of the death of a loved one. I see them either at critical incident debriefs, or as individual clients/family groups.

In that early stage the sense of unreality is so strong. It is hard to absorb the news. It is more about just surviving up to and including the funeral.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF

I always tell people to be kind to themselves. To not expect to be running around looking after other people. Instead I suggest they be really selfish and look to their own needs. Naturally, if they have children they need to caring for them, but with other people their needs come first.

I once had a client who had been upset that an acquaintance of her sister came to her mother’s funeral, then came up to her afterwards demanding she do things for him. He didn’t even acknowledge her mother’s death. She felt pressured to attend to his demands and upset at his intrusion on her mourning.

This is why I always remind people to put themselves and their needs ahead of funeral guests. Guests at a funeral are there to support, not demand.

HONOURING YOUR LOVED ONE AFTER THE FUNERAL

The other thing I talk to people about is how they plan to honour the life and acknowledge the death of their loved one. Funerals are not always good places to do that. In my experience the guests usually find the funeral helps them, but those really close to the person often need more than that.

So I always ask the question “what can you do to honour your loved one?”

People have many different ideas about what they do:

• One planned to light a candle every day for a period of time.

• Another planned to go to the beach on Sundays, which they had always done together.

• Another client planned to devise a commemoration ceremony to hold periodically after the death of their loved on.

• Many people report setting up a small altar in the home with their loved one’s ashes, photo, a candle and something they loved.

• Distributing the ashes is another way many people find helpful. Some do this on their own when they feel ready. Others will plan a day with close family and friends.

These are just some of the ways people commemorate the loss of their loved one.

They are not the only ways. There are as many commemorations as there are people experiencing grief.

The important thing is that you do something to acknowledge your loved one and their loss. It doesn’t have to be fancy. But it is helpful if it is meaningful for you.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: http://eepurl.com/g8Jpiz