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The Resilience Formula – making choices

Glass with water and lemon on wooden table

“Just tell me what to do”

I recently found myself confronted with a mammoth task. The steam literally came out of my ears as I tried to start-up a part of my brain that’s been lying dormant. Feeling helpless and stupid, thinking “I can’t, it’s too hard, what if I don’t get it right? What if I’m not smart enough”? And then, that deep, child-like desire… “if only someone could just tell me exactly what to do”.

Temper tantrums and stomping feet

How I longed for the days of it being someone else’s problem. To give up because I didn’t feel like it or because it was too hard. Wow, in my forties, I’m still struggling to just “grow up”!

Take responsibility, make choices and accept the thoughts, feelings and mistakes that may come as a result

In the midst (and mist) of all the self-help books, blogs and vlogs it’s sometimes a relief to just have a summarized little package of idea’s to manage our life from.

This past summer I followed an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) workshop with Russ Harris where he briefly mentioned the “resilience formula”.

The resilience formula

Nice and simple. When life gives you lemons….

  1. Leave. Will your life be more meaningful or richer if you take the leap of choosing to leave? Consider this as a really option. Trust that you will find yourself in a new situation which you will be able to make the most of.
  2. Stay and Change what can be changed. Russ used a great metaphor here: If there’s a gun pointing at your head, can you stop yourself thinking “oh crap, I’m about to die” or “oh no, what if X then Y might happen”, or feeling pure and utter terror? Probably not. We largely have little success in stopping our thoughts and feelings. Instead of trying to suppress and push away what you think or feel, consider making a choice, commit to action and change what you can. Ps. there usually isn’t a gun to your head.
  3. Stay and accept what cannot be changed. Make room for difficult thoughts and emotions and live a value driven, meaningful life within your realm of influence.
  4. Stay, give up and do stuff that makes it worse. You can also choose to continue hiding, fighting, avoiding, addicting…just don’t expect it to feel any different change your circumstances!

Accept…make room for struggle…open up…be curious….commit to living a value-driven life.  

Make lemonade!