2018 was going to be my year. January was awesome. I set SMART goals. I made a plan. I wrote my six month milestones on a whiteboard in my office. I used my best handwriting and double checked my spelling. My whiteboard contained a road map to awesomeness right there for all to see. January was awesome.
I knew February was over scheduled. Packed full of education conferences, teacher workshops, big important meetings, student projects, and family stuff. The only way I was going to be awesome was with an awesome plan. So plan I did and by the end of January, I was ready to tackle it all like the badass superwoman that I was. I had a plan. I was ready. Bring it on February.
Then the ceiling caved in. Literally. All over my office. All over my plans. That ceiling collapse was the first in a month-long string of challenges I was not ready for. It was like the Universe flipped me the bird and stomped all over my carefully crafted plan.
I began my over scheduled February with my office, and my plan, in shambles. My space was disrupted. My whiteboard was disrupted. I was disrupted. If that wasn’t enough, unexpected things like health drama, social drama, work drama, and life drama kept popping up. Like thousands of little biting flies nagging at my attention, keeping me off balance and out of focus. I was in a constant state of reaction spinning from one thing to another. I was in survival mode. I forgot about being awesome. I just wanted to make it through in one piece.
March of the Survivors
February turned into March. I survived-ish. It was not pretty but I made it through. I had reached the end of my stressful nightmare. I was looking forward to taking a breath and going back to my plan.
Then my world began to spin. Literally. I was in my car when I was hit with a vertigo attack so severe I had to pull over, vomit in some nice person’s yard, and call my hero of a husband to come rescue me. My eyes couldn’t focus and when I closed them, it felt like I was on a runaway Tea Cups ride. Spinning. Spinning. Spinning.
The spinning wouldn’t stop. I spent three days sleeping off the tornado in my brain. Once again, my plan was disrupted. As my plans spun out yet again, I heard the Universe chuckle.
Here we are at today. The spinning has finally slowed to a dull whirl and I’m beginning to deal with my new normal. After a week of rest and physical therapy I’m better. Still a little off balance but better.
I’ll admit, there is a part of me that just wants to give up. Curl up on the couch and throw myself the best pity party the world has ever known. But I won’t. Instead, I’m ready to give my plan another go. I may have lost a month or so but I have five months of awesome still on my whiteboard and a six months after that to add.
This is not the first time the Universe has messed with my plans, and it certainly won’t be the last. Life is unpredictable. No matter how much I plan or prepare, things I can’t control will be there waiting to push, pull, and spin me off track. Again and again and again. Why don’t I give up?
Because resilience is my superpower.
What is Resilience?
Resilience is more than just the latest self-help buzzword. It is a very important life skill. The American Psychological Association describes resilience as “ the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means ‘bouncing back’ from difficult experiences.”
Resilience was not always my superpower. I did not gain it through radiation exposure or a lab accident. It did not just appear one day, turned on by some trigger agent. I had to build it. Grow it. Strengthen it over time. Through intentional practice I have nurtured the ability to stay positive, persevere, and recover from difficult situations and experiences. Like a badass superwomen.
First and foremost, I changed my internal narrative. I decided to be positive. It is not always easy. I feel the negative thoughts pushing around the edges. Trying to dominate my brain. They sneak in and I mope or complain. But then I make myself stop. I make the decision to be positive.
Second, I assembled my league of positive hero allies. We all know that if one superhero is good. A team of superheroes is better. I have my goto people who help me in my pursuit for positivity. They support me when things become too much for me to handle on my own. Resilience is amplified by other resilient people.
Finally, I make a plan. I know what you are thinking…”Why make a plan if the Universe is just going to stomp all over it like an asshole?” Simple, all superheroes make a plan before they go after the baddie. A plan helps me break things down into doable pieces. Even the most overwhelming, stressful task can be made manageable with a plan. Sometimes my plans are glorious long term paths to awesomeness filled with SMART goals and milestones. Other times my plan is simply how to survive the next 24 hours through sad naps and self-care. Either way, a plan gives me focus and helps me feel like I have some control even when the world is spinning out of control.
However, a plan can also be a challenge to resiliency. Holding too tightly to a plan makes one rigid and inflexible. You can bounce back if you are rigid and inflexible. I am flexible like the willow branch. If one plan is not working, I don’t freak out or snap like a dry twig. I bend, flex, and make a new plan.
By now you might be thinking…”Yay for you. Resilience is your superpower. Whoopdedoo. Thanks for rubbing it in.”
Here’s a secret. You have resilience too. It’s inside you. Like a latent superpower just waiting to emerge. You just need to know how to awaken it. You need to MAKE resilience your superpower.
You can start with a new internal narrative. It’s your story. Tell a good one. Then find your own league of powerful positive allies. Those allies can help you focus on the positive and support you when things feel bleak. They can also help you make a plan and then revisit it when things don’t go as expected.
Like any skill, resilience takes time to build. Do your research and find resources and support people to help you. Here are a few articles to get you started.
- The Road to Resilience from APA
- Eight Strategies for Building Resilience from Forbes
- Developing Resilience from MindTools
I’ll be honest. It’s not easy. Even the most powerful superhero has moments of struggle, darkness, and failure. But, it is their power and strength that help them survive to fight another day.
Be your own superhero.
Make resilience your superpower.
Dr Kristin Brynteson – Hot Pink Tech