Resilience is a buzz word right now and is required in great dollops at this time. Some people are facing financial crises, some are facing terrible stress, some face health challenges (long COVID, mental health challenges, insomnia, weight gain, and many other problems either directly or indirectly related to the pandemic) and some face loneliness and boredom. Maybe the challenges you are facing aren’t in this list, but they are included! One of the words I often hear in the many talks I attend and give on resilience is “grit” and that’s the word I would like to chat about today. The definition of grit is: courage and resolve; strength of character. I would add the perseverance and passion to achieve long term goals. How do we manufacture grit when we feel overwhelmed, uncertain and unsure? Grit is not a quality you either possess or don’t possess, its something you can cultivate and therein lies the possibility. Research shows us that we can train girt, just like we can train fitness. We can develop it and cultivate it, but we must be deliberate about it or we will keep sliding back and manifesting the emotions that undermine it. So, in essence, this is a training program for grit. Why should you follow the program? Because when you do, your health will benefit, your wealth will benefit, your relationships will benefit, and your overall happiness will benefit and when you don’t, every one of these will suffer. And they will suffer a lot. You see courage is the bridge that grants you access to so much of what you want. The nervous system is harmed in profound ways when we feel overwhelm and fear and so developing the antidotes to those directly impacts the nervous system.
Here is the training program:
Use a daily mantra and run it in your mind as you go about your business….. something like, “everything always works out for the best”, “the Universe has my back”, “everything turns out as it is meant to”.
Take some time daily to connect with yourself, to check in with yourself and discover how you are. Notice and name any emotions that you are feeling and take the time to acknowledge your emotional state of being for yourself.
Support yourself. That means do what you know helps you cope. For me that is the recipe of: enough sleep, regular healthy meals, daily exercise, enough recreation time and time to do my passions and have fun. I also need to make enough time to spend with the people I love and care about so that my relationships thrive. What is your support recipe? How can you integrate it into every day of your life? Write down the recipe and factor it into your diary now!
Our natural tendency is to avoid the things we fear. This is “fear avoidance behavior” (FAB). FAB leads to shutting down and limitation. What we want to do instead is to move towards what we fear instead of away from it. Let’s put this practically. If flying is scary for you, the temptation is to never fly. What building grit is about, is flying where you can, and offering yourself all the support possible to fly safely. Slowly, through graded exposure your brain will be able to see that flying is not particularly unsafe. If its public speaking you fear, take up any opportunity you can find to speak in front of people, until it feels safe and easy for you. If it’s a new sport, move towards it and not away, speaking a foreign language or learning an instrument are the same. Do it whether it scares you or not and support yourself as you notice your impulse to avoid it.
Be clear on what you are trying to achieve. Break your goals down into small steps and then steadily reel your goal into focus with one small step at a time. Document the steps and tick them off as you do them.
Practice pushing yourself out of your comfort zone on a regular basis. This can look different for different people,
If you want a second helping, resist having one (unless you truly are hungry)
If you feel tired after walking 5 km, try walking 5,5km and notice how that feels.
Try to finish one big task at a time, resisting the temptation to start the next task before you are ready to.
Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day for a month and see how it benefits you (the research tells you it makes all the difference to your sleep quality)
Practice doing something challenging like getting up regularly from your desk during your workday (hourly at minimum) and not waiting until your next coffee break to move. Just do it. Even if there is internal resistance and a million reasons why you shouldn’t.
Start training your grit muscle. Don’t let yourself off the hook when you have decided to do something. Stay the course and move forward towards the goal you have set yourself. Grit and resilience need development and when you have developed the muscles of grit, you will be able to rely on the resource it provides, and your life will be enriched in thousands of ways. I wish you a gritty month of May and the resilience to bounce forward through this middle period of Covid and come out the other side stronger and wiser. Much love Sue Fuller-Good Founder, Body Brilliance and The Energy Incubator.