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  • Writer's pictureKen Haney MA LPC

How to handle life's difficult moments

One of the traits we need to get through life's hard times is a thing called resilience. Life throws at us a continual barrage of struggles and setbacks. Sometimes they come from the people in our world. Sometimes they come from circumstances. A lot of mine have to do with inanimate objects not cooperating with me.

If you have ever lost your temper, become anxious or depressed over a situation in your life you have experienced low resilience. Resilience is defined as

  1. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness."the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions"

  2. The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity."nylon is excellent in wearability and resilience"

It means the ability to be flexible, to handle life's setbacks without becoming overwhelmed, having a meltdown, losing your temper or committing acts of violence against defenseless inanimate objects.

How do we develop resilience? Is it part of our personality? Are some people just born with it due to their laid back personality?

The primary key to resilience has to do with our perspective. How do we assess the situation whenever a setback occurs? There are several areas of assessment that impact us. First is the threat verses the resources appraisal. Do I have what I need to be able to deal with this situation?

For example, I am on the way to work and my tire goes flat. I make several assessments at this point.

First is the convenience factor. This means that I am now going to have to get out of my car and change a flat. I am in my nice clothes. It is hot and humid. It takes a lot of exertion to remove the lug nuts. I would rather be riding in my air conditioned car, listening to my favorite song and making progress on my journey to work.

Second is the resource factor. Do I have a functioning spare? If not, do I have someone who can take me to the store to buy a new one? Do I have the money to spend on a new tire?

Third is the personal factor. Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this? Who is the idiot that spilled nails in the road?

Fourth is the time factor. Once again you are going to be late to work. You were supposed to be there on time for a meeting. What does this say about me? What will my boss say about me? What will my coworkers think if I am not on time? Maybe they will say something about it, or worse. Maybe they will just give me that look of condemnation which doesn't allow me to offer my excuse--"I had a flat tire!"

Finally there is the self judgment factor which says, "I knew that tire was bad. I should have replaced it Saturday when I had time instead of watching the game.

If any of these thoughts come into play, your reaction to the situation will be negative.

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