Recently, I have witnessed several people I know receive the answer “no” to things for which they have worked very hard for. This made me think about the challenges of putting so much of your heart and soul into something only to find out that you have fallen short of your desired goal.
For some people, the answer “no” will be the end of their road, shutting the door to their hopes and dreams, but for others it will be the motivating factor that propels them forward until they get the “yes” they are looking for.
What is the difference between those who give up and those who see obstacles as opportunities?
The answer is resilience and optimism.
Obstacles are an inevitable part of life but it is how quickly we recover from those obstacles that will determine our future. Martin Seligman, the man credited with being the “Father” of Positive Psychology said, “ [t]he defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe that bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault. The optimists who are confronted with the same hard knocks of this world, think about misfortune in the opposite way. They tend to believe that defeat is just a temporary setback or a challenge, that its causes are just confined to this one case.” (Martin Seligman, azquotes.com).
So ultimately, it is the voice inside of our own head that determines whether we will accept defeat or whether we will rise up to the challenge and prove to ourselves that we can.
I have always felt that if you want something badly enough, then you will find a way to make it happen despite the obstacles and barriers before you. Now, we all know someone who uses their obstacles as excuses for not moving forward, choosing to blame their immobilization on “bad luck” or the “unfairness of life”.
Guess what folks?
Life is not fair, so either you accept this reality and focus on what you can do to achieve your goals, in spite of the set backs, or you can accept defeat, wallow in self –pity and allow others to prevent you from obtaining your dreams.
Either way it’s your choice.
The American Psychological Association suggests these ten ways to pave your road towards improving resilience, (American Psychological Association)
- Make connections. Good relationships with family and friends provide important support during difficult and stressful times.
- Avoid seeing crisis as insurmountable problems. Highly stressful situations happen, but you can change how you respond to those events.
- Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accept what cannot be changed and focus on what you can alter.
- Move toward your goals. Develop realistic goals and focus on tasks that help you move in the direction of those goals, even if they are small accomplishments.
- Take decisive action. Act on adverse situations as much as you can rather then detaching from the problem.
- Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People learn things about themselves and grow in some respect as a result of struggle and loss.
- Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.
- Keep things in perspective. Avoid blowing the disappointment out of proportion, but rather see it in a broader context and keep a long term perspective,
- Maintain a hopeful outlook. Try visualizing what you want rather then worrying about what you fear.
10. Take care of yourself. Exercise and caring for ones self allows for the mind and body to be primed for situations that require resilience.
Rejection builds character and it will force you to look within yourself to see just how resilient you really are. Maybe you will hear the words “no, you can’t” more then a few times from others…
Just don’t let those words become your own!
Monica Goodwin MSW
Having received her masters in social work, Monica is currently working on opening a practice where she will specialize in family dynamics.