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“If uncertainty is unacceptable to you, it turns into fear.  If it is perfectly acceptable, it turns into increased aliveness, alertness, and creativity.” Eckhart Tolle.

There’s only one certainty in life – that one day you’ll die.

There we go, that’s the worst bit over with.

It’s interesting isn’t it, we race through life achieving one milestone after another, creating an illusion that we’re following a some desired path to a destination. Traditionally it panned out in this order, school-start work-marriage-family-retirement and now we can add in college or university. 

Even within that life path there’s no certainty. There’s no certainty that you’ll find the job of your dreams, or that you’ll not get made redundant; that you’ll you and your partner will stay together; or you can have children, or you won’t get sick. Yet still we search for this certainty and often to our cost as we get stuck on a treadmill and end up unhappy with our lot. We compare ourselves and our lives with others and hold on so tight to an outcome we think we want and should have.

Both of my brothers and my Dad died within 1.5 years between 2001-2003. A family of five shrank to two and in that time my life changed. No one could have predicted it, and it felt really unfair, but it had me assess my life and look at it differently. 

Consider for a moment that there is no certainty. If you fully embraced that concept would you be present and savour every moment that little bit more? Not knowing what tomorrow might bring could make us really appreciate the moments we have right now. The UK is a safe country and we take so much for granted, which is why now, when things feel less certain, people aren’t able to cope. 

How about looking at life as an adventure? Or an expedition or a game? When I approach life this way, I stop taking it so seriously. And I tell you, I can be very serious about many things!

This is my 3rd blog on the theme of building resilience and this one focuses on managing uncertainty (you can read the others here and here). Essentially there are two key aspects: becoming OK with uncertainty AND creating certainty inside yourself. 

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Becoming OK With Uncertainty

Resilience is believing that we can adjust to, and recover from, life’s challenges and adversity. We all have differing levels of resilience, which have developed from our life experience and the cultural environment we’ve grown up in. If we reflect, we’ll find we’re more resilient in some aspects of our lives than others. Certain knockbacks or challenges don’t bother us, whilst others have the power to totally floor us.

Right now, here in the UK, the systems we thought we could rely on aren’t supporting us in the way we believed they used to, so people are feeling uncertain. Things we could rely on in the past are no longer there. This isn’t only in the UK, people all around the world are dealing with this right now and in many countries have done so for decades. 

Creating Certainty

We tend to look ‘out there’ for certainty don’t we? We consider our job and income as ‘secure’, and look to our partner, children and families, the government, society and culture for certainty. If all of that is OK and as it ‘should’ be, we’re OK. As long as we have our partner beside us, we’re getting paid, the kids go to school, the shops have food, the lights come on when we flick the switch etc., we have some kind of certainty.

Yet if you remember, back in March 2020, the way we lived was turned on its head. In the space of a couple of weeks most of us were working and educating our children from home. We couldn’t see people, celebrate, socialise or even enjoy nature really. We had scarcity in the supermarkets, people lost their businesses and jobs, people couldn’t say goodbye to their loved ones, there was a daily number posted on every news broadcast. All this created a tremendous amount of anxiety for many.

Everything we knew as certain changed in a moment. Who’s to say that won’t happen again? We just have to look at the succession of events that have taking place since. Look at what’s happening in the Ukraine and Gaza – lives have changed and been destroyed in an instant. And in reality, there are many other wars going on that don’t make the media. Throughout the world and historically, there has always been uncertainty.

Moreover, throughout history, many people have survived catastrophic life events and not only that, have gone on to thrive and create amazing things.

Building internal resilience can help create certainty within us. This means that no matter what happens, you know deep down, you’ll be fine. It starts by getting clear about who you are, being honest, facing up to yourself and yes, doing the deep work. 

Building Resilience by Changing Beliefs

Your beliefs are powerful. They define your reality and what you believe is possible in life. If you’re always overwhelmed, or think life is awful, or everything always goes wrong and never works out for you – this will become your reality.  You can be pretty sure you’ll get what you want, what you believe.

We hold tightly to our beliefs. How many of you have become frustrated because something or someone ‘shouldn’t be that way’. We believe people should behave in certain ways and systems should work in a certain way and when they don’t, or things change we can find that challenging and throw our toys out of the pram.

What if you were to consider for a moment that none of your beliefs are true. You’ve definitely inherited a fair few beliefs from your parents, school, peers, significant relationships and society. They’re not even ours yet we hold on to them for dear life.  When things align with our beliefs, then great, but when our beliefs are challenged we feel it. When we hold too tightly to our beliefs, we allow them to run our lives without unquestioningly. Yet we’ve all got beliefs that are unhelpful to us. If you’ve ever thought ‘I can’t’ or ‘it’s never going to work’, ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I don’t deserve’, these are all limiting beliefs

I’ve plenty of examples of clients who had hidden belief patterns holding them back. ‘I have to work really hard to make money / be successful’, ‘I can’t work for myself, I’d not get anything done’; ‘I’ll never meet anyone because…’.

Beliefs become patterns we run and they define our life. Of course if you say, I have to work really hard to make enough money, you’ll find examples everywhere and that’s the reality you get. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy. 

The good news is, we can change belief patterns with a reframe or by installing new ones. Stop and think now of a disempowering belief…what would it be like it wasn’t true for you? What’s the opposite of that old belief? What evidence do you have of that more empowering belief? It might take some practice but you can change a lot with this reframe.

With techniques like reframing, anchoring, Time Line Therapy™, and Swish Patterns, NLP can facilitate a shift in perception, enabling you to break free from old thought patterns and adopt new ones that align with your goals and aspirations. 

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Resilience Takes Practice

In my view, resilience isn’t Stoicism, or being tough in the traditional sense of the word, it’s being soft and strong. Which means taking care of yourself, loving yourself and believing you’re worth it and you deserve it and not being a martyr or victim of everyone else’s demands. 

If you’re someone who goes into fight or flight every time something feels difficult, then you’d really benefit from bringing some awareness to the situation. A habit of worrying and feeling anxious, has your nervous system on high alert, resulting in inaction and reactive behaviour. Taking responsibility for your own wellbeing and happiness is a good starting point and can help you navigate stormy seas. I love using the analogy of being like a buoy, which bobs back up even when pressed down. It’s about dealing with the unexpected with flexibility and ease. 

Resilience is being able to bounce on by adapting to a situation. We’re never the same again, we evolve, incorporating the experience into life and leading on through it. 

 

Control What’s Controllable

Agreed it’s not nice when we feel out of control; it can feel overwhelming. Here’s a simple quick way to feel in control. Write down all that’s going on. Now cross out what’s outside your locus of control. 

We often worry about things we can’t do anything about. It’s OK to know what’s happening in the world, be concerned and have compassion, however, worrying isn’t going to help. If you can take action, do something. Worrying when you can’t do anything is a waste of time and energy. 

With things you can’t control – let go, surrender to the outcome and focus on something else.

 

Modelling Resilience

You are more resilient than you think. Look back at your life and what’s got you to where you are now. You’ve been through some hard times and you’re still here, which shows that in some parts of your life you’re resilient, if in other aspects you may not. This means we can model ourselves!

Where are you resilient? What is it you see, hear and do when you are being resilient? What’s your emotional and physical state? Get into that state and then think of the area you don’t feel resilient, taking the state with you. 

 

When things get tough

Believe me, even the most resilient people have their resilience  challenged from time to time. The mind and body are linked and when your amygdala is ‘hijacked’ in the fight flight freeze state, you can’t think. The best thing here is to first recover until you can get back to rational logical thinking.  

Animals do this really well – they shake it off. For us it’s a little different – we need to calm our nervous system and we can do that a number of ways:

 

State change model

You can change your state in a moment.  Try this exercise: get into the state of a person who’s having a crap day, really feel it and now think of something really happy – a memory where you felt amazing. Is it difficult to feel good? Now stand up and wave your hands in the air and look up with a big smile. Now try to find a niggly sad memory – can you?

 

Slow down your breathing

Sit with your feet firmly on the ground. Breathe in and out long and slowly three times. This releases the pressure and calms your mind and body, so other parts of your brain get better connected and have and bit more oxygen. Grounding with your feet tells your body you’re ready to deal with and manage this. 

 

Power posing.

Power posing or postural feedback is a technique that suggests how you hold your body influences how you feel and how you behave. This became popular after Amy Cuddy’s Ted talk which you can find online. It’s basically a state changer similar to the one above. First try a contractive pose – lean inward, cross your legs, wrap your arms around you and hold it for a couple of minutes. Then try an expansive pose – stand tall, imagining a piece of thread pulling you up from the crown of your head, breathe deeply and stretch up your arms. Which makes you feel more powerful?

Building long term resilience requires a change in mindset and beliefs. NLP has many techniques that can do this. Trust the process, trust yourself you can do these things and tell yourself ‘everything is working out perfectly well for me’. Yes it takes practice and it’s worth it to move you towards the life you want.

NLP empowers individuals to create positive change in their lives, unlocking their full potential and enabling them to achieve greater levels of success and fulfilment. It gives you a comprehensive set of tools and the confidence to use them in any environment. How valuable would that be? If you want to learn more about learning NLP, then get in touch here.

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