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How to push through obstacles that stand in your way.
“Eeeeek!” The water was cold, near freezing, as it hit my body. A feeling so shocking that I couldn’t help but let out a high-pitched squeal. Why am I putting myself through this?
During the summer, a few years back, the only kind of showers I took were cold ones. In the moment, it felt pointless, if not insane.
A friend had turned me onto the idea, mentioning how he had been taking cold showers and thus encouraged me to do so as well.
His reason: To introduce some difficulty into your life so that when real challenges come your way, you’d be ready.
He didn’t put it that succinctly, but that was the gist and I was willing to give it a shot.
Prepare for tomorrow
By fall a few months later, neither one of us could stand it any longer.
The summer was manageable because of the heat. While uncomfortable, a cold shower on a hot day was sometimes a pleasant experience.
But now that our warm California summers were beginning to cool off, the chill had become unbearable.
When I next saw him, I asked how the cold showers were going. Like me, he too had abruptly ended the experiment.
And so, that was the end of that. Little did I know though, his idea was profound.
Challenging yourself today so as to prepare for strife tomorrow is a brilliant concept, one that at the most basic level helps to ensure your survival.
3 ways to develop the art of resilience in your life
Resilience is a learned behavior, created out of struggle.
A life free of obstacles does not develop the same means of resilience as someone whose life is riddled with them. It is an imperative trait to develop though as we all will encounter difficult times to some degree.
No one lives in a vacuum.
If you prepare today, if you develop your mind and practice the art of resilience, you will be ready to face whatever is to come.
With that in mind, use the following tactics to develop the art of resilience in your own life.
1. Challenge yourself
See resilience like a rubber band. The more you stretch it, the further it will go. However, don’t jump into a cold shower just yet.
Consider where you are today and practice pushing yourself a little more than you’re comfortable with.
For instance, if you normally do a daily walk of 30 minutes, add on an additional five minutes to each walk that week.
Continue to add on an additional five minutes with each new week.
So in week one, do 35 minutes daily. In week two, 40 minutes. And so on. These small incremental shifts will challenge you.
They will force you out of your comfort zone, make you uncomfortable, and ultimately help you grow.
Plus, with each added increment, you will gain pride knowing that you overcame an obstacle. Which leads me to the next point.
2. Reflect on previous challenges
When faced with a difficulty, you may want to quit, to give up.
However, a powerful way to push through is to reflect on obstacles you’ve previously overcome.
For instance, back in college, I created an app. It was my first entrepreneurial venture and it was excruciating.
Between the numerous bugs, struggling to get more downloads, balancing the business with work and school, plus a slew of other factors, it was a brutal period of my life that I’m happy is well behind me.
That said, I survived. I made it through and lived to tell the tale.
Now when faced with an obstacle, I can look back and know that if I made it through that, I can make it through anything.
So, when it comes to the art of resilience, reflect back on previous difficulties to motivate yourself to keep going today.
See: Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Eric Greitens
3. Do things you don’t want to
I took cold showers specifically because they sounded awful. In the past, I’ve done 24-hour fasts for the mere struggle of it.
If this seems similar to the first tip I suggested, it is… but also isn’t. With the first point, I encouraged you to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
To challenge yourself in new ways.
This new tip is similar except it focuses on things you don’t want to do. That maybe even scare you.
In the first point, you may like walking. Adding more time is going to push you, but generally, you still look forward to the walks.
With this tip, I suggest pushing yourself to do things you don’t want to do.
Like saying hello to a stranger each day, having a hard conversation with someone, or going for a long run even when you’d rather walk.
Develop the art of resilience in yourself by getting used to doing hard things you don’t want to do.
Applying the art of resilience
To best apply these tactics, I recommend spending most of your time with the first tip. Push yourself to attain new heights.
Add more time to your walks. Meditate for longer than you’re used to. Read more than you did last month.
Then, when you find yourself struggling to achieve those aims, practice the second tip.
Remind yourself of the challenges you’ve overcome in the past.
Recall the battles won. Use previous trials as inspiration to push through your current struggles.
Finally, when feeling particularly bold, apply the third tip.
Get out of your comfort zone and do things that scare you; things that you don’t want to do but believe will help you grow in some way.
Take a cold shower, send an email to someone you admire (and expect to never hear back from them), randomly ask for a discount when ordering coffee.
And of course, apply the second tip during these tough times as well.
Moving forward with the art of resilience
Resilience can be practiced, developed. When cultivating the art of resilience in your life, apply the three tips discussed in this article:
- Challenge yourself
- Reflect on previous challenges
- Do things you don’t want to do
With time, patience, and resolve, you will find that you can overcome any obstacle. Your resilience will become a defining trait that propels you forward and allows you to attain the success you so desire
You have certainly given me a lot of food for thought! In my understanding, resilience depends on multiple factors including our attitude and may even have a genetic component. So while the idea of stretching ourselves can be effective in reasonable doses, we also have to be careful not to push ourselves too far. There’s the comfort zone, the learning zone (where we stretch ourselves) and the danger zone. If we push ourselves too far or too fast, we can trigger trauma and loose any gains we have made. I’ll be the one working with reasonable doses!
I’m a big believer in balance Sandra…and I think your comment gives us all more food for thought.
These are great suggestions, Corey. Resilience is so needed when times are tough. I have found that having the tools to help myself bounce back can be crucial.
Hi Cathy. Corey makes many great points in this article. I enjoyed reading it, apart from the cold shower thing!
I think the gold standard of personal development is the art of developing our ‘resilient’ muscles. So this article is such a wonderful reminder!
I love the way you put it Zeenat. The gold standard of personal development.
The truth is very powerful and this article highlights how we can use the light of truth for self motivation
Hi Wayne, wise words dear friend. 🙂
Simple, but profound truths. It sounds like the way of discipline is like your way of resilience. Interesting article. Thank you
Thanks for stopping by Dawn and taking the time to share your thoughts…comments are always appreciated. 🙂