Last week, I wrote part 1 of this post which had to do more with the money side of things. In learning to have mental wealth as well as managing money well, an emergency fund is a solid foundation.
I described how to calculate a monthly emergency amount which enables you to use any number of months as the multiplier. Creating a hedge against any number of life’s emergencies is a way of playing offense rather than defense.
It also will allow you to have more resiliency to bounce back from any potential setback.
However, the second part of developing resiliency is the mental aspect.
Developing Mental Resilience
If you read part 1, I suggested that you observe your coping skills in an emergency situation. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Were you focused on solving the problem at hand?
- Did you use any type of substance (food, alcohol, drugs, TV, shopping, etc.) to self-medicate and/or soothe?
- Did you blame others?
- Did you lead and delegate to others in collaboration with finding and embracing the solution?
Identify Patterns or Habits
I suspect you have not had an emergency in one week since I’ve written the post but if you are or were able to reflect back on a specific adverse situation, try to identify how you coped. It’s crucial to be 100% honest with yourself at this assessment.
And remember, there is no judgment whatsoever. We all have certain tendencies and coping skills which were formed during our formative years. Most likely it’s a mix of some healthy and unhealthy skills. Why? Because no parent is perfect. ♥♥♥
The good news in identifying your personal coping skills is that you can now work on what you want to change about yourself. Once we see what we don’t like about ourselves, we can intentionally work to transform our habits into becoming healthier ones.
We cannot change what we don’t understand.
Going to the Root
For me, as I did my personal inventory in recovery and saw how I coped, I needed to understand why. I wanted to really see where these habits came in because if we can get to the source of the habit, we have a chance to understand and heal it.
For example, let’s say you had a very critical parent. Perhaps, they judged your every action, critiquing you each step of the way. Maybe their intentions were from a good place of wanting you to become the best possible you.
However, when one is critiqued constantly, it can often produce some habits that are out of whack. In my experience, I’ve seen it produce two typical responses…
On one hand, a person could be driven to strive for perfection to avoid criticism and hopefully please the critical parent.
On the other hand, though, another person might just give up on trying to do things well or “right” because why bother when it’s never good enough.
Neither of these responses is moderately healthy. Rather both are extremes on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Familiar, not Comfortable
The funny thing about habits that are formed out of our formative years, is that they tend to stick. They stick for years and years-long after we’ve moved out from living with our folks. Sometimes we even attract partners who treat us like our parents. Why? Because it’s familiar.
Hopefully, after this exercise, you’ll understand that while they are familiar coping skills, they are no longer comfortable. If that’s true for you, welcome to the sanctification process!!!
Sanctification is often considered a Christian concept and that is true.
When I accepted that I was a sinner in need of a savior, I repented of my past sin. Additionally, I’m continually allowing the Spirit to guide me into the sanctification process, including the renewal of my mind. I don’t really want to keep sinning (or erring if you prefer), so I accept the Spirit’s correction.
Furthermore, I have a whole slew of sisters and brothers in Christ, who keep me accountable and I them.
Sanctification in Recovery
Now that I’ve explained how sanctification is a Christian concept, I also want to share that it’s a recovery concept. In recovery, we surround ourselves with others who are going to call us out on our stuff and guide us to healthier habits.
Why do all of this work? Well, I’m a firm believer that this is the most worthwhile work one can ever embark on in life! Relationships are one of the sweetest gifts in this life. Although, they can also be incredibly challenging.
People tend to hurt those they are closest to. People hurt the ones they love because it’s so easy to take for granted the ones that are closest to us. We spend much of our life with these people and so our guards are down. Manners might get thrown out the window. We hurt one another and fall into our familiar coping skills.
Additionally, we are prone to wander and believe things may be greener on the other side. If you haven’t already figured it out, nothing is greener on the other side!!! Grow where you are planted and focus on your own garden and the people in it. Cultivated & cared for plants produce fruit which is waaaaaaay sweeter. 😉
Change is Possible
I’m here to say, it doesn’t have to be that way. We can fight to make our relationships healthier and hence happier. The way to do that is twofold in my opinion. Firstly, Focus on your own stuff and work to heal old wounds and form healthier skills. Secondly, work to please God in all that we do and all of our relationships will naturally get healthier.
In regards to the former, let’s go back to the example above about a person raised in a highly critical environment. If their coping skills have been to strive for perfection and they were interested in changing after unearthing the root, they might follow a formula like this:
- Forgive the parent(s)
- Identify positive traits about self
- Look up in the bible what the word of God says about you
- Forgive self for not being perfect
- Develop a strategy for positive self-talk and alternatives when performance is less than perfect
- Learn something new as a way to practice how not perfect you are 🙂
Strategies in step 5 could be things like walking away and taking a break from a project when mistakes or stress occurs. Or giving oneself a time limit to complete something so that it’s good rather than perfect. Stop something when it’s good! By doing this over and over, perfection becomes less of the goal.
I particularly love step 6 because we all know when we learn a new skill for fun, we see how little we know. It takes practice and patience to get good at it. This can be a valuable exercise for someone who has fallen victim to the lie that they have to be perfect. However, this person needs to be careful to not practice to the point of perfection. This is really an exercise to have fun doing something new.
In regards to the latter, pleasing God in all that we do. We get an example of how Christ treated other people in the bible. He cared for the poor, sick, and lame. He hung out and loved the unlovable. Lastly, He came to serve rather than to be served and put the needs of others above Himself. These are far from easy things to do but I guarantee when we strive to be more Christ-like, we will love those closest to us better.
As I close out this two-part series, I reflect on what we need to do in order to resilient. One, we all need an emergency fund in life! It will allow you to weather the storms that inevitably hit.
Second, we can serve our loved ones well by working on our coping skills. Whether you are in recovery or not, this is a worthy exercise. Isn’t time to clean out old cobwebbed habits in pursuit of revitalizing our relationships.
Third, we have a phenomenal example of how to love if we look to the life Jesus lived.