How To Build Resilience (And Future Proof Your Life)

“Resilience is our ability to thrive and fulfill our potential in spite of adversity or challenging circumstances”- Janine Shepherd

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the Swiss-American psychiatrist, once said, “If you truly want to grow as a person and learn, you should realize that the universe has enrolled you in the graduate program of life called ‘loss.’ 

To change the way we view the inevitable losses and adversity in life is a challenge we all face. The truth is, it is the tough times that force us to examine what is truly important to us, and without them, we would never really know what matters, nor would we know the potential of our lives. What we desire is that––instead of derailing us—our challenges become the catalyst that transforms our lives into something more meaningful. 

Our difficulties can be likened to the irritant inside an oyster shell: a grain of sand or other debris that stimulates the production of the mucous juices, in turn surrounding and transforming it into a precious pearl. Like the oyster, our irritants, when handled correctly, can help us to transform them into something magnificent and valuable.

It doesn’t matter what adversity you currently face; serious ones— illness, disability, financial loss, job stress, relationship problems, death of a loved one—or the smaller day-to-day pressures of life we all face, we need a particular set of tools if we are to cultivate resilience in our lives and Build an Unshakable Core.

The great news is that resilience is a skill that can be learned, which is the principle of neuroplasticity: the ability of our brains to adapt and change. So, even though we may even feel stuck at a challenging turn of events in our lives, there is hope that we can learn a new way of not just doing, but also of being in the world. The first thing we need to understand about learning resilience is an awareness and understanding of how the brain works. We can practice what I call “self-directed neuroplasticity”—an intentional change in our thinking and world view, which helps us reshape our lives through the teachings of experience.

My accident and subsequent challenges—disability, divorce, single parenting, and financial loss—have been the very things that have enabled me to dive deeply into what it takes to cultivate a resilient life. However, we don’t need to experience such considerable setbacks in our lives to build Resilience. Learning from small challenges is how we practice and build an unshakable core. When we do this, then we truly can handle whatever curveballs come our way. 

With a background in elite sports and sports science, coupled with curiosity and subsequent study in the principles of neuroplasticity, positive psychology, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) coaching, and counselling, this has given me a unique view of how best to learn resilience.

We want not only to bounce back in life but to bounce forward—to learn and evolve, which is the foundation of post-traumatic growth— so we can create a life that is rich and meaningful in spite of our challenges.

At The School For Resilience, we are excited to announce a breakthrough course that will teach the fundamental skills of resilience, built around Five Precepts and Twelve Pillars of Resilience. 

We first start by revealing the Five Principles of Resilience (spiritual principles/lessons) that serve as underpinnings in learning the skill of resilience.

These Five Principles are as follows:

1)  We are never alone and always connected. – Like the story I told in my TED Talk, we are all joined together by a sea of invisible straws. Knowing this gives us hope and strength. It opens our hearts to compassion and empathy and helps to cultivate the virtues of forgiveness and understanding.

2) The Universe always says YES. – The Universe is predisposed to manifest whatever you hold true with your desire and intention. We are not victims, but instead are conscious creators of our destiny. We must guard our thoughts diligently.

3) You are the Producer, Director, and Actor in the story of your life. Our thoughts, beliefs, judgments have brought each of us to the present moment. If you want a different experience in life, you must be prepared to DO things differently. You can change the narrative and rewrite the story of your life.

4) Choice is the most powerful tool you have. – You may not be able to choose the circumstances of your life, but you can choose how you respond to them. We can choose our attitude towards every circumstance in life. 

5) This, too, shall pass.  Nothing last forever, neither joy nor sorrow. Make every moment count, because all aspects of the human experience are temporary and transient. Time does heal all wounds.

Remember, life is not about avoiding adversity or loss; it is about tapping into our innate Resilience to create a life worth living. As Jon Kabat-Zinn reminds us, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.

If you would like to learn more about The School For Resilience and the Twelve Pillars that are foundational in cultivating resilience, you can visit www.janineshepherd.com to take the short Resilience quiz. We’d love you to join our resilient community and learn how you too can Build an Unshakable Core and future proof your life!

Wishing you blue skies and tailwinds!

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