“Fall down seven times, get up eight.”
~ Japanese Proverb

Yesterday I had just left my house, heading for the gym, when I fell off my bike, landing hard, mostly on my chin and left knee. I got up slowly, gently touching my bleeding chin and surveying the rest of the damage. I then walked back home to put ice on my injuries and nurse my wounds. Upon recounting the incident to my husband after he returned from an injury-free bike ride to and from the gym, he said, “That’s one of the things I love about you, that you’re tough like that.” I felt very touched. He was right, of course. I’ve had my share of physical bumps and scrapes as well as plenty of emotional cuts and bruises, yet I’ve always found a way to recover, usually stronger than I was in the first place.

Life is full of injuries and incidents, so avoiding pain isn’t an option. What we can do, however, is be resilient–spiritually strong–so that we bounce back whenever we take a fall, rebounding to fully enjoy the pain-free moments life abundantly offers.

How to bounce back from life’s setbacks

  • Choose not to suffer. At some level, I think many of us like to suffer occasionally. It evokes sympathy in others and can be a great excuse if we’re needing one. Suffering makes us brittle–susceptible to more injuries in the future. Feel the pain (physical or emotional), cry, wail, moan, curse, lament your situation. Be your wounded self 100%, no holding back. Get all that emotion out. Then, take a deep breath (or 20), and move on, whether that means cleaning your wounds, icing an injury, or nurturing your bruised ego or soul. Feel the pain then let it go so you can be free.
  • Be with other resilient people. I’ve found it much easier to develop my strength when I’m around other strong people. They’re role models and can be great sources of insight and information as I seek to cultivate similar strengths. When I see them bounce back, I’m inspired to respond to my own troubles in like fashion. I also get to inspire them when they see me rebound from some letdown in my life. It’s a mutually-supportive relationship.
  • Focus more on the “good” in life. When we view life as mainly problems with a few good times thrown in, it’s easy to stay down when we fall. Instead, when you choose to believe that life’s positive moments far out-number the negative ones, it’s more likely that you’ll view a down time as a temporary situation. Mentally you already set yourself up for the rebound.
  • Fall lightly. Okay, easier said than done when your fall is divorce, disease, or some other personal disaster. How we perceive our “injury” points us toward either quicker rebound or longer recovery. If we have the attitude that “this is the end of life as I know it,” chances are that statement will become true for us. On the other hand, if we remind ourselves, “this is bad, yet I’ll get through it,” or “wow, that hurt, I’ll pay better attention next time,” it’s easier to swing up toward recovery because our attitude is lighter. Humor can be a great tool to use when you want to rebound quickly.

“Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit.”
~ Bern Williams

What do you do that keeps you resilient to life’s bumps and bruises?