Tag Archives: Resilience

Happiness isn’t complicated.

26 May
Advertisements

What can we learn from Donkeys

6 Nov

Donkey-Paintings-600x450

There is a fable about a farmer who had a donkey. The donkey was old and one day it had fallen down into a well on the farmers land. The farmer decided that the aged donkey was not worth saving, and since the well had no water in it and had been dry for some time, he would take the easy option and bury both. He began to shovel earth down the well and could hear the cries of the donkey as he did so. The farmer kept shovelling and soon the donkeys cries stopped. Presuming the donkey was now dead the farmer shovelled the last few spades of earth to finally cover the well and the dead donkey. Only to see the animal jump out of the well. The donkey had shaken off each shovelful of dirt and had stepped on the slowly rising mound of earth before finally jumping out and free.

The reality in a lot of our lives is that… relationships will end, Jobs will be lost, cars will be crashed and people we care about will pass away. As much as we might like to,we can’t escape the fact that sometimes life is tough.

What we have though is an ability to see these events in our lives as a chance for us to grieve, grow and have a greater ability to cope when something unexpected happens to us again… It’s called RESILIENCE. Resilience provides us with an ability to express what we feel,grieve and understand emotion when something difficult comes our way in life…But also to learn from what happened and understand that this will give you coping skills for when something similar happens again.

We are probably very guilty of producing a generation of children with less resilience. As we tell our children that they are  “Special”  and “Amazing” . The truth is that the word special itself explains that not everybody can be special or else the it would be redundant. Tell an interviewer that you think you are “Special” and balk at his next question when he asks why you think this is true? This excellent article by the Huffington post outlines the problems that generation Y are experiencing.

You mightn’t get your first your second or even your third job after interview. But you will be learning valuable life skills and you will be better prepared and more appreciative when the door finally opens for you.

Your first girlfriend might dump you because it’s not all about “You” and maybe caring and paying attention to the other person in the relationship is what you need to work on for your next relationship to work.

Life is a work in progress and the key word here is “progress” Try nothing new or never venture out of your bubble and you will rarely feel that you are learning and your life is moving forward.  Run away from difficult decisions or experiencing life’s emotional upsets will never build resilience.

Be that Donkey…or die.

Positive mental health-Let it out.

8 May

Wailing walle Jerusalem_i-G-21-2166-HLICD00ZOf all the contributors to positive mental health talking/communicating seems the most obvious. Talking through problems expressing how you feel especially when you are down sounds like the best and most obvious option. The funny thing is that it is something that we do not do enough of when we are feeling low.

Every class I do on mental health I ask the participants when was the last time that you talked about your feelings to someone else. Considering there is usually a 50/50 split between male and female participants I find the answers starkly different. The male participants in the group especially at a young age will say they can’t remember the last time that they talked about their feelings to anyone. It is not something that is  a part of their world. On the other hand the Female participants freely admit they talk openly between themselves. They talk about how they feel regularly. They talk about how they feel about the relationship they are in and whats going on. Guys never talk about this. Girls are also great support when the relationship falls apart and her friends are there to support her when she is going through this.

Men are quite different they end up holding all there feelings in . Rarely will men have a similar conversation to women around a breakup. Hi Guys Sarah has just split with me . Dave we are on the way over I’ve got the Ben and Jerry’s, Chris is bringing “Marley and me” we are there for you Bro.

But I began to seem some glimmers of light when I discovered that certain male students began to admit that they openly talk about their feelings with their friends or their parents. Building coping mechanisms like this builds a stronger you. Some began to mention the importance of crying when they feel down. Something their Fathers  and Grandfathers generation may have never admitted to.What a great breakthrough.

Sometimes we struggle with communicating with other humans we choose to talk communicate in other forms. Many participants said that they regularly talked to their Pets or animals. One guy had great conversations with his horse. The horse may not be able to provide the advice you want but it allows you to express what is going on for you. Horses are good listeners too.

It reminded me of a facility that the local church near me used to provide. Situated at the left hand side of the altar was a large noticeboard. Underneath it was a table with post-its,pens and drawing pins. People would come to the church and write their troubles or worries on the post it. Like ” Please say a prayer for my Dad he is really ill at the moment and I am worried about him” or “My husband has lost his job and is really down at present could look after him God” or “I am really struggling at school because I am being bullied please help Lord”. People could add comments to the post its(it was all anonymous) giving support to those in trouble. ” My Thoughts are with you”  or “you are not alone”.

I thought it was wonderfully cathartic. The noticeboard was packed full every time I visited. It was like the wailing wall in Jerusalem. Sadly it was taken down a few years ago and never replaced.

Some people let it out by writing down their worries on a piece of paper and either binning them or setting them alight and letting them go. Either way both techniques are very effective.

Whatever we do. It is important to understand that keeping our thoughts and emotions wrapped up inside of us is not healthy. Expressing what we are experiencing through writing, talking or through music and art are far better options than allowing it to fester inside and create negative thoughts, feelings and ultimately behaviour.

As Robert Heinlein quoted ” worrying is like trying to teach a pig to sing….it wastes your time and annoys the pig”. Share what you feel and see the changes in you.

Actions make the difference.

3 Apr

IMG_7116I like it when people come up with their own solutions. We nearly always have the answer but it is the failure to act on that realisation that prevents change. Actions always make the difference If you want something in your life to improve for the better a positive action is required from you. As Aesop once wrote “After all that has been said and done, there is a lot more said than done”. So true.

Over the next series of articles I am going to talk about what can we do that will help when we are feeling down for a period of time and need our mood lifted. Life can throw up some difficulties, that is simply life, we do not get to escape this. Nobody gets to sail through life without feeling the strains of a difficult period in a relationship,the loss of someone we care about or the stress of accidents and injuries that our Children or us encounter. It is the actions that follow that matter.

If you do nothing, nothing changes

So I have put together some examples of solutions that my course participants have provided that when put into action will help move you on to a brighter place. I will talk about them over the next series of blogs.

Some of them will seem very obvious but as obvious as they seem,you need to ask yourself when was the last time you did this and what are the benefits this action will bring to your life.

Years ago I had a huge fear of heights. I decided I could live with this fear of heights simply through avoidance of situations that caused this panic…. or I could do an action that might change this. I decided to jump out of a plane…. by myself.

I always remember that morning when I turned up for training at the airfield. The camaraderie and laughs with the other potential jumpers that morning was a great distraction from what really was ahead. We laughed as we changed into our silly orange jump suits and jumped off  7ft platforms learning how to roll as we hit the ground and “kick out” if our parachute became tangled mid-air. We happily rolled up parachutes that morning, cracked nervous jokes and chatted over lunch.

It was after lunch that the mood began to change. It was explained that the jumps would be taking place in groups of threes as the plane was a small Cessna. “Who wants to go first?” said the instructor I thought that sight of someone else heading towards the earth without their chute opening might put me off. So I volunteered for the first group.

With my parachute on my back and the plane bobbing towards us on the grass airfield all the fun and games of the morning seemed a distant thought as the colour drained from my face and the nearest toilet seemed like a good option. The pilot asked me my name and details… I could not even speak… complete fear had taken over I had never felt as scared in my life as I did at that point… and we where still on the ground! As we climbed into the plane and knelt facing forward I thought I was going to get  ill as the plane began to taxi down the grass runway and hover into the air. All the jokes in the world from the Instructor  and Pilot could not alleviate the fear that I was feeling right then.

As we approached 2000ft and the door off the plane opened I was never more awake or aware than at that moment. The instructor indicated to me to move slowly towards the door… place one foot on the wing strut and one foot at the door…. I could see all the fields and cows below me. Just like Father Ted explaining to Father Dougal the difference between “Near and far away” these definitely where far away.  My heart was ready to explode…. I could hear the instructors voice behind me shouting three words Go! Go! Go!. …..What did I do?

I looked down at the fields below me and felt the wind gush against me as I stood at the plane exit and I thought this is it, pause and I will never do it. I jumped…. one thousand, two thousand, three thousand…. aaaaaaaaaaaahhhh( I am being kind with my phrasing here).

I looked up at my parachute to check It had opened properly. It had not … it was slightly tangled…this would cause it to drop like a burst balloon… if I did not kick out as I did…. and suddenly begin to float slowly towards those beautiful green fields. What a feeling, oh what a feeling. The adrenaline and excitement were pumping through my veins as I celebrated with some of the coarsest words in the English language as I floated downwards. Thinking there are world leaders,politicians and some of the greatest minds  of our time who would never attempt to do what I have just done!!

Had I changed my fear off heights? It certainly helped. My next jump at 12000ft feet felt less nerve-wracking . My next one in a few weeks time will be just as much fun.

Actions always make the difference. Do nothing and nothing changes. Just be mindful of what ones you choose.

SuperBetter

24 Jul

ImageI came across Jane McGonigal yesterday. Jane is a world renowned designer of alternate reality games. Which are games designed to improve our lives and solve problems. Jane suffered a head injury that spiralled her into depression and ultimately suicidal ideation. During this period she started to design a game that would help her to recover and fight back against the depression she had been experiencing. You can see her talk here at TED Edinburgh.

Jane has created that game also created a website SuperBetter that is designed to help us achieve goals and build resilience.

This is what SuperBetter provides you with

* A way to build up your core strengths — physical, mental, emotional and social
* Totally customizable — figure out what matters most to you, and how to get more of it
* Designed to help you through a tough time, or with a difficult change
* About claiming your power — the power you have to impact how you feel everyday, and to decide for yourself how your life will unfold
* Backed by science — neuroscience, positive psychology, and medicine. You’ll learn the science as you play.
* Social — SuperBetter can give your friends and family an “aha moment” about what you’re tackling, and help them find ways to really support you.
* A collective investigation. Everyone who is playing is helping to figure out new ways to get SuperBetter — for themselves, and for the entire community.
* A powerful boost when you need it most. You don’t have to play SuperBetter forever. You play when you need it.

It outlines a lot of tips that I use on my course in a fun and engaging manner. If you need a little boost and build your resilience at any time in your life then we really recommend SuperBetter.

%d bloggers like this: