“I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but by how high he bounces when he hits bottom.” ~ George S. Patton
Everyone faces ups and downs in their life. That’s just the way it goes. The important thing is how we handle the challenges and obstacles that are put in our path.
As the Japanese proverb goes, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” That sums up what I like to call “the art of bouncing back.” Because when it comes right down to it, it’s your ability to bounce back that determines how you live your life. You can either wallow in misery and self-pity and let your challenges keep you down, or you can get right back up again and move forward.
Staying down is easy. It’s the getting back up, being resilient and determined to succeed in the face of obstacles that’s the hard road to take. So to make it a little easier, here are five things to think about when you’re ready to get up and move forward.
1. Be your own first responder.
In times of crisis, when the need is severe enough, we call for help. For example, you don’t think twice when you have a medical emergency about calling for paramedics or the ambulance to take you to a hospital. If your house is on fire, you call the fire department. These trained professionals are there to provide the first response to your problem, and to help you take care of it in the best possible way.
But when life throws you a curve ball that doesn’t fit neatly into a category where there’s a need for a trained first responder, what do you do?
Do you pretend there’s nothing wrong and hope the problem will go away? Or do you immediately take action to address the situation and find a solution?
When you practice the art of bouncing back, you become your own first responder. Instead of staying down, you get up, define the issue, figure out your options, and start planning the best way to deal with it. Because you know how to bounce back, you don’t let any challenge become a major crisis, nor do you let yourself get stressed out over it.
2. Learn from past challenges.
When it comes to challenges you’ve faced in the past there was, no doubt, a lesson to be learned. Did you learn it? Or do you try to bury your past challenges in a place where you’ll never have to think about them again?
The second key to the art of bouncing back is to learn from your past challenges and remember what you learned so that it can be used again should the need arise. I’m not saying you should dwell on the mistakes of your past — that is a sure way to misery — but do focus on the positive lessons that came out of them. Focusing on the positive allows you to realize that in handling a challenge you developed new skills as well as the confidence to use them.
3. Practice every day.
When I was learning how to play the piano, it was important to practice every day so that I could develop my skills. It’s the same with becoming more resilient. The more you practice bouncing back the easier it becomes. It’s a learned skill, just like any other and the “use it or lose it” principle applies here too.
So let me ask you this…
Do you do something that strengthens your ability to bounce back every day? Or do you brood and wallow and feel sorry for yourself that things aren’t going your way?
When you are practicing the art of bouncing back, do one positive thing every single day. It could be as simple as going for a walk, or finishing a project that’s been hanging around. You could call a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time, or you could declutter a closet.
Do something each day that ties in with your life purpose. When you are focused on your purpose and actively living it, you’ll notice that you’re more inclined to get right back up after a setback and keep on going because you’ve got goals to reach and a mission to accomplish.
4. Identify your support system.
When you are facing challenges, it’s important to not try and go it alone. We all need support even if it’s just someone to vent to when you’re having a bad day.
Bouncing back is much easier when you have built up a support system of people you can visit with, call and talk to, or lean on when the going gets rough. It’s much harder to bounce back easily when you’re trying to deal with everything on your own.
If you don’t have a support network, start building one today. Set a goal to make at least one new friend in the coming weeks, and take advantage of any support systems your community offers when you need them.
5. Take care of Number One. (That’s you, in case you were wondering.)
Taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do to help you become more resilient. So many times we tend to put our own needs last because we’ve been taught that it’s selfish to think of ourselves first.
Unfortunately we learn the hard way that this is not the case. It’s not until crisis hits and we’re not able to bounce back because we’re worn out and run down from taking care of everyone else that we learn the most important lesson there is: Making your own health and welfare your number one priority is not selfish, it’s self-preservation. You can’t take care of others until you’ve taken care of yourself. You can’t effectively deal with a crisis when you’re so tired and burned out that you can’t think straight.
Take time out every day to take care of yourself. Even if all you can manage is to lock yourself in your bedroom for five minutes of peace and quiet, do it. And if I seem like I’m pushing hard on this point, it’s because I am. It took a heart attack and various other illnesses to wake me up to the fact that I had to take care of my own needs before I worried about anyone else.
Now I make the time to meditate, to cook proper meals, to go to the gym on a regular basis and it really does work. I’m much more capable of dealing with a crisis without stress, and I’m much more able to bounce back from a challenge now than I ever was before.
If you take nothing else away from this, take that and use it. Please.
There will always be challenges, changes, and other obstacles passing through your life, but when you practice the art of bouncing back, they won’t stick around for long. Use the keys presented here to strengthen your resilience and you’ll be up and moving forward again before you know it!