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Resilience: Maintenance

Harry Mills, Ph.D. & Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. Updated: Apr 4th 2016

If you are diligent and committed to the change process, at some point during your journey you'll notice that you have met at least a few of your goals. It won't happen over night, but given enough time and commitment it will occur. Throw yourself a celebration when you reach this point. You will have accomplished something meaningful and useful which will help you along your life journey.

The thing about the life journey, however, is that, so long as you are alive, there is never a point when you are 'done'. Though you may have improved your coping abilities, you will never find that you can simply sit and admire your progress and be complete. If you do this, you'll find that your new coping skills get rusty and your relationships pull away from you. It will be necessary for you to practice your resilience-enhancing coping skills regularly if you are to keep them in good shape.

Handling Setbacks

problem and solution street signsAny time you try to change the way that you customarily do things there is a tendency to fall back into old patterns when you become stressed. As circumstances in your life change, you may want or need to reassess how you are doing with regard to keeping your resilience practices up. Particularly when your life becomes very stressful (due to illness, business travel, work deadlines, relationship problems, deaths, losses and disappointments of various sorts, etc.), you may find yourself starting to lapse back into old patterns. For example, during a period of grief you may become depressed, withdraw from others and stop being receptive to the social support your carefully cultivated relationships can provide.

If you find yourself (or if someone else finds you) falling back into old, unproductive patterns, see what you can do to gain perspective on what has occurred, by temporarily slipping back into the preparation stage. Try to determine what caused your lapse and how you can best deal with that cause so that it doesn't harm your life for the future. Once you understand what has occurred and have generated a specific and detailed plan for managing it, execute that plan.

Work to learn from your lapses, design a new version of your plan, write a new version of your contract, and continue on with your program. When you wonder whether changing yourself is worth the effort, remember that nurturing positive emotional states is one of the most important things a person can do to benefit themselves. In this case, sticking to your program can help you overcome the impact of stress on your life and can make you better equipped to achieve your goals in the future.

Should a lapse occur, the most important thing to remember is that you can recover from that lapse. Don't give up. Remember the reason you decided to make a change in the first place, and once again make improving your health and well-being a priority in your life.


Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

When it pours - michele - Oct 17th 2008

 I had bookmarked this some time ago and with stormclouds recently revisiting I wondered if there would be something in this to help me gain more perspective and to prepare for a "stress-related" work interview tomorrow.

First I think there are some very good ideas in how one can learn to handle stress; wish I had read this when i first came across it.

One thing I didnt see although is how does one diffuse the stress signals when there are many stressors involved and over a legth of time. Put together these stressors... long term financial concerns...bill collectors and trying to meet all the monthly bills, troubled teen who is involved with drugs and the school constantly calling about his truancy, no support system of family due to misunderstandings and outside interferrence, several recent moves.... long distance ones, a relatively new career with an upcoming exam for progression, and very recently work related investigation concerning performance under stress. And to top it all off the night before the interview, a pet gets hit by a car and dies.

I want to grieve my pet but with so much occurring I feel overwhelmed to the point of feeling rather "numb". I know I should be preparing for this interview tomorrow morning but have spent pretty much of that time reading this site in hopes to show my bosses that yes I currently have a great deal of stress in my personal life, it is not affecting my work performance. I know it sounds like I do have alot on my plate but I dont bring this to work... in fact work is the one place where I feel I have control. I made the mistake of telling a co-worker some of the things going on in my life and it somehow went up the ladder to upper management. Im scared that having to discuss my personal life will cause me to loss control of my emotions...especally in light of the recent anguish over the loss of my pet. What does one do when so much is piled on at the same time.... how does one maintain pretending to be "happy" when so much negative stuff is happening?

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