Everyone has deeply held beliefs about how people and the world should operate, as well as who they are and want to be, according to psychologists Reivich and Shatte. These are called iceberg beliefs because they often "float" beneath the surface of our consciousness so we're not even aware of them.
These beliefs often guide us to behave in ways that are true to our values. Sometimes, though, they interfere with our ability to live the life we want, and they explain why we overreact to minor issues -- or have a hard time making simple decisions. Identifying these deeply held beliefs -- and determining whether they're working for you or against you -- is a key step toward developing resilience.
How effective are you at solving the problems you encounter day to day? Do you procrastinate? Do you feel helpless to change situations? Do you persist on one path, even when you see it's not getting you where you want to be?
It's your thinking style that often leads you to misinterpret the causes of a problem, which then leads you to pursue the wrong solutions. Do certain negative thoughts tend to recur over and over again? If so, these counterproductive thoughts make it harder for you to stay engaged and in the moment, which can affect your ability to cope.
Putting it in perspective
Do you get caught up in "what if" thinking where you turn every failure into a catastrophe? Do you waste valuable time and energy worrying yourself into a state of paralyzing anxiety about events that have not even occurred?
Tips to improve your resilience
Here are a few pointers, provided by the Mayo Clinic, for strengthening your resilience:
Get connected: Build strong relationships with those who can provide support and acceptance. Volunteer, get involved in your community or join a spiritual community.
Find meaning: Develop a sense of purpose for your life. Having something meaningful to focus on can help you share emotions and feel gratitude.
Start laughing: Finding humor in stressful situations doesn't mean you're in denial. Humor is a helpful coping mechanism. If you can't find any humor in the situation, turn to a funny book or movie.
Learn from experiences: Think back on how you've coped with hardships in the past. Build on skills and strategies that helped you through the rough times, and don't repeat those that didn't help.
Keep a journal: Write about your experiences, thoughts and feelings. This can help you see situations in a new way and help you identify patterns in your behavior and reactions.
Accept and anticipate change: Expecting changes to occur makes it easier to adapt to them, tolerate them and even welcome them. With practice, you can learn to be more flexible and not to view change with as much anxiety.
Work toward a goal: Do something every day that gives you a sense of accomplishment.
Take action: Don't just ignore your problems or wish they would go away. Instead, figure out what needs to be done, make a plan and take action.
Resilience is often used to describe the people of Appalachia. And resilience rhymes with brilliance. I like that.
Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications firm specializing in advertising, public relations, government relations and interactive marketing. Reader comments may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301 or e-mailed to livelifefu...@arnoldagency.com.