How do you build your own seren­ity?

South Burnett Times - - RURAL WEEKLY - DEN­NIS J HOIBERG The Re­silience Whis­perer

“GOD grant me the seren­ity to ac­cept the things I can­not change, the courage to change things I can, and the wis­dom to know the dif­fer­ence.”

The Seren­ity Prayer is well known. It best sums one of the char­ac­ter­is­tics of re­silient peo­ple – the abil­ity to de­velop and ap­ply psy­cho­log­i­cal flex­i­bil­ity. Re­silient peo­ple are not wed­ded to a par­tic­u­lar style of re­act­ing or cop­ing; rather they dis­play flex­i­bil­ity, de­pend­ing on the cir­cum­stance. Crit­i­cally, re­silient peo­ple are able to de­ter­mine and ac­cept what they can­not change, learn from fail­ure and use their emo­tions to de­ter­mine mean­ing in times of chal­lenge and ad­ver­sity.

The first step in de­vel­op­ing this flex­i­bil­ity is ac­cept­ing the re­al­ity of our sit­u­a­tion re­gard­less of how painful or fright­en­ing it is. Ac­cep­tance in­volves not only ac­cept­ing and ac­knowl­edg­ing the re­al­ity of one sit­u­a­tion; but also as­sess­ing what can and can­not be done, re­defin­ing goals that no longer seem fea­si­ble and in­ten­tion­ally redi­rect­ing ef­forts to­wards what can be changed. It is not the same as “giv­ing up” or “quit­ting”.

The next step in de­vel­op­ing this flex­i­bil­ity is re­fram­ing neg­a­tive events and look­ing for a pos­i­tive mean­ing in them – the “every­thing hap­pens for a rea­son” mind­set. Stud­ies have shown that in­di­vid­u­als who fre­quently use pos­i­tive “re­fram­ing” as a mech­a­nism to change their emo­tional re­ac­tions to stress demon­strates pos­i­tive ben­e­fits com­pared to in­di­vid­u­als who are un­able or un­will­ing to re­frame. At times, the best way to deal with a chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tion is to ac­cept and tol­er­ate the sit­u­a­tion – at that time! Other times it is best (when you are able to), deal with it then and there. But it is about know­ing the dif­fer­ence and hav­ing the flex­i­bil­ity to adapt.

In chal­leng­ing times, re­silient peo­ple ask them­selves the ques­tion – “what can I learn from this sit­u­a­tion and how can I grow from it?”

The abil­ity to find hu­mour in sit­u­a­tions can also be an im­por­tant com­po­nent of this re­fram­ing and re­spond­ing dif­fer­ently. Hu­mour – when used ap­pro­pri­ately, tends to broaden our fo­cus of at­ten­tion and thereby fos­ters ex­plo­ration, cre­ativ­ity and pos­i­tiv­ity.

By de­vel­op­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal flex­i­bil­ity, you will be­come more adapt­able to events in your en­vi­ron­ment, lead­ing you to a greater sense of con­trol and peace. And you have to love the seren­ity…

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