My new year thoughts on resilience for 2015

I was thinking of a presentation I gave to some teachers yesterday when I said that as much as we like to think that life might be a nice even road, or at worst a slightly bumpy road, in reality, like Tigger, most of us bounce our way through life, and to keep ‘bouncing back’ and ‘bouncing higher’ seems to be as good new years resolutions as any!

Early in every January we stare out into the unknown of another year. Will we finally achieve our recurring resolutions and ambitions, or will there will be more and bigger challenges ahead to test our resolve and our ability to cope? Of course, everyone wants to improve, so most of us want each year to be better than the last, but maintaining a status quo might be enough for many.

It seems to me that knowing that we are generally able to cope with what life throws at us, based on our previous experiences and challenges we were able to overcome: in other words, knowing that we are resilient, helps to take some of the pressure off the unknown. Instead of worrying about the future we can face it head-on with a positive mindset, prepared for challenges but not overwhelmed or constrained by the prospect of them.

So, this year, instead of my usual resolutions that are soon forgotten, I am going to set myself six positive actions that I will aim to follow throughout 2015. Read on and see whether you might want to join me!

1. Avoid my negative self

Like everyone, I have a positive me and a negative me and I am going to make a conscious effort to avoid the negative me as much as I can. The negative me has quite a loud voice and often demands to be heard! He’s the one who says negative things and takes the pessimistic view about situations and choices. He likes the word ‘can’t’ which is of course is just an apostrophe and a ‘t’ away from ‘can’ and my positive self likes ‘can’ more!

So, when my negative self says ‘I can’t…’ I am going to insist that he answers the question ‘why not?’ and without a really good reason otherwise, I am going to use ‘can’ instead.

2. Be more like Muhammed Ali

I read somewhere that Muhammad Ali visualised how each of his fights would go and then used that to make his predictions about when he would win when he was being interviewed before the fight. And he was often correct!

One of his best quotes was ‘I am the greatest, and I said that before I even knew I was!’

I am a natural optimist, but maybe sometimes, I can be optimistic without any supporting evidence! So, instead, I am going to spend more time thinking through positive outcomes, so I can justify being optimistic, though I think I will avoid trying to claim I am the greatest!

3. Anticipate the hurdles

I often realise that my instinct predicted a problem or an hurdle long before it occurs. So, I am going to try harder to identify the hurdles in advance and have a plan for overcoming them.

4. Play to my Strengths

It seems to me that many people spend too much of their time focussing on their weaknesses and forget their strengths. They become trapped in conversation with their own negative self who is telling them they can’t do things because of their weaknesses, drowning out the positive self who is trying to emphasise the strengths to find ways to say ‘can’.

I am going to try to spend more time focussing on my strengths and getting involved with things I know I am good at.

5. Make sure I have a spare T Shirt

The SUMO Guy talks about how sometimes we need to change our T shirt and thereby stop being the victim. I am going to ensure that my change of T shirt is always close by whenever I feel resentment, bitterness, envy or other negative emotions.  

My T shirt will remind me that I have to take responsibility for my own life and that I have choices about how I deal with situations and that there is little point blaming others for what happens.  It will also remind me that I have a lot to be grateful for.

6. Be mindful and meaningful

I have grouped these together because I like the way this sounds, but I also think they go together well. Being mindful to me is focussing on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present, to ensure that I stay in control and strive for positive outcomes. Another way of describing this is ‘emotional intelligence’, which I studied at university but I am not always so good at applying its principles.

Therefore by linking mindful to meaningful, I will try to ensure that I do meaningful things that utilise my passion, exploit my positive self and quieten my negative self, all while keeping me engaged in the present.

Happy New year to all teachers, children and everybody else involved with HeadStart Wolverhampton. 

Kevin Pace, Programme Manager