Mental Resilience – What does it really mean and where can I get some?
The internet is literally full to bursting with articles, books, webinars and training programmes on building mental resilience, self-help guides to boost your resilience and adjust your mindset. Which ironically becomes a little bit overwhelming!
So instead of adding just another more or less similar article to this, I will be sharing with you a bit of my story: MY thoughts on Mental Resilience, how it changed my life forever and how it still helps me everyday to navigate through both my personal and professional life.
- I offer some tips on how to begin the process of opening up your mind to see Where you can find information and support that fits with you.
- I will be sharing with you What Mental Resilience means to me and the very personal experiences that lead to my own self-awareness and ultimately, how it guided me to choose Coaching as my profession.
- I will also be talking about the moment I realised that when we operate at Effect our mindset is closed. So in order to know How to become mentally resilient we need to adjust to a growth mindset and start operating at Cause. This signifies the moment Where it all began for me. How working with a coach helped develop my skills and How these skills have enabled me to navigate the emotional journey of becoming a Start-Up.
- And finally, a list of my Top 12 Tips on how to begin to build your mental resilience in your start-up journey.
So what does mental resilience mean to me?
Let’s start at the end
“Abbie it’s time to start writing your blogs… and let’s begin with Mental Resilience” Argh crap. Ok so at that exact moment I was not feeling particularly resilient. I had been experiencing a week or two of feeling low, adopting a rather sloth like persona. Not sad just slow. I have however, learnt to embrace these rather sluggish days as I know now that what comes next is the most amazing euphoric burst of creativity and energy. I wait. I watch. I trust and then I act.
Mental resilience argh ok quick Google what does everyone else say about mental resilience?
Right ok lots of facts and lots of similar tools and techniques. Lots of stuff I feel I know. But wait “I am mentally resilient” I have walked that line. Done my time. Worked the process. I have been on the dark side and now I am a Jedi. Of course, it’s going to make sense to me. I have been there.
What is out there for someone who is still on the dark side. Someone who is trying to reach light but doesn’t know how. Tools and techniques are the life blood of coaching but honestly, explaining how reframing works won’t help someone to do it, until they do it.
Something that was said to me quite late into my start up journey when I asked the question “why is coaching such a hard sell shouldn’t everyone be banging the door down. It changes lives. Its amazing. Why don’t people want it.? The answer came back “Abbie they don’t know they need it” WTAF!!!!
It was at that point that I found my true authenticity as a coach. I knew then that I would have to be the truest version of who I am in order to help these people. So, what was it for me? Where did my journey begin? How did I know I needed it?
I knew then I was going to need to work my process. I suffer with terrible imposter syndrome and co-dependency issues and this will often send me on a path of competition, second guessing and insecurity. A real test of my mental resilience!!
I decided to practice what I preach. Work MY process and write what makes sense to me. In order to do that I needed a place to start. Conversation … a coaching conversation is always a two-way process for me. I thrive on getting to know who it is I am coaching and helping them to unleash their inner awesomeness. Because I can see it. even when they can’t. I decided to pose this question to my workshop group and here is what happened.
“Ladies I need to start writing my blog and I need your help. What does Mental Resilience mean to you?
Learnt behaviours, authenticity, core values, strength, perseverance, determination, discipline, mindset, knowing when to stop, knowing when to let go.
Fab, lovely great all good answers, brilliant …
And then something amazing happened. Dee asked me “Abbie when did you know you were mentally resilient; can you pinpoint when that happened?”
My words at the time were, well yep there probably was a point and then I realised.
Yes, I can, it was 7.34am on the 15th July 2009.
I knew at that point what I was going to write and how I was going to write it. I was going to tell my story. Well at least a part of it anyway. I am still saving a few juicy bits for when Oprah invites me on.
Where can you find it?
Information means nothing if you don’t have the context
For me there is so much information out there, so many positive quotes and self help guides, honestly it didn’t mean shit to me until I truly began to feel the difference. Having something to compare to. Many of us sit in a place where we seek the answers outside. The journey my friend begins and ends on the inside.
Lisa had given me the book the Last Lemon by Lisa Swerling & Ralph Lazar. I read it 10 times and still didn’t get it. I put it on a shelf, and it wasn’t until around 5 years later I reached for the book and read it again. Then I got it.
So here it is my journey into Mental Resilience. What it means to me and how I reached this point. I hope there is something here that will resonate with you. That will inspire you to take action to begin your journey. “It’s not going to be easy; it is going to be worth it”.
Where it all began
I met Lisa in 2002. Just weeks after I had got married and I was already pregnant with my second child. We were I suppose forced together through circumstance, our husbands were best friends and so we met regularly and soon became good friends.
Although much younger than me, Lisa was an old soul, balanced, humble and wise. And it wasn’t long before I started to experience some rather unusual thought processes after spending time with her. She was to be fair, training as a person-centred counsellor at the time and as I discovered for myself later in my own training, you need guinea pigs to practice on. So, I guess I became a guinea pig.
Each time we met, despite being surrounded by children, friends, family, conversations and the occasional “drama” I always felt completely listened to. My life back then was a shit storm. I make no secret of how unhappy I was, and to be clear, there were huge reasons why this was true. Some of them yes, were on the outside of me. People and situations that made me doubt my worth and my very existence. People and situations that caused me to feel helpless, sad, anxious and depressed. People and situations that confused and upset me. However, these people and situations were not the focus of our conversations.
How working with a coach helped me to develop these skills
Blame and responsibility
To begin with I would bring the conversation to these people and situations. Blaming and questioning why me? All my focus and energy were on; Why I was being “treated” this way. Why me? How can I change these people or situations to make them stop?
We did this dance for honestly a good 12 months. We didn’t meet often and at the time I had no idea of what was to come, so I gave little or no thought to our conversations except only at the time when they were happening.
This is something that I have experience of with my own clients over the years. Coaching is not a spectator sport and to truly benefit from the amazing process, you have to go all in. Which means driving the process forward for yourself. So, when a client messages me between sessions to say” Abbie I have been thinking about what we discussed and…… “Hallelujah. They get it.
I empathise of course with the clients who take a little longer to get there. It took me a year FFS!!!! But when that penny drops, or we flip the switch, or open the door, or get in the driving seat… that is where the journey really begins. This is the start of mental resilience.
Cause and effect
At effect we are reactive. We tend to blame other people or circumstances for the way we feel, what we experience and the situations we find ourselves in. We give up all responsibility and believe that things happen to us, rather than us making them happen. We rely on people and things that we can’t control to make us feel good and achieve what we want, which ultimately leaves us feeling powerless and puts limitations on our lives.
Those who live at effect will often ask for help and advice then ignore or dispute it. They will be in jobs they hate or relationships that are unfulfilling. They will most likely be suffering with their mental and physical health. They will have un-resourceful behaviours that prevent them from moving forward.
Their resilience will be low, and they will most likely be unhappy unfulfilled and unsuccessful.
We can be living at effect in some area of our life and not in others.
At cause, we are proactive. We take full responsibility for everything that happens to us and us consciously and consistently take action to create what we desire. When living at cause, we believe that everything in life is a choice and that we are solely responsible for making those choices. Through that, we create our own opportunities. This means people at cause tend to get more of the important stuff done and live healthier, happier and more fulfilled lives.
Those who live at cause are likely to have jobs that they enjoy and are fulfilling. They may not always be in relationships, but if they are then they will be seeking a soul mate rather than a house mate.
They will not have perfect lives, but their outlook will remain positive, while they maintain their resilience to cope with all that life throws at them.
They are likely to be less stressed, less anxious and suffer less with depression than those living at effect.
We can be living at cause in some areas of our life and not others, but you can rest assured we will be making it a priority to work on that.
Courtesy of the awesome Laura Piccardi – Author of Unfaked
How do you become mentally resilient?
My journey from darkness into the light … the light bulb moment
“Abbie who exactly are you blaming for all of this?” Uhhh ummmm uh …. OMG. Still to this day the most powerful coaching question I have ever been asked. Because in that exact moment my world changed. At least my perception of it did. Who was I blaming? Why was it their fault? What part am I playing in this farcical comedy or errors that is my life. I have been playing a part in this shit storm from the start. Like Ian Beal in EastEnders, always there, involving himself in every drama never seeming to learn from his mistakes.
It was in that moment that I went from living at Effect to living at Cause. Ok so there was a long road ahead of me, but at last I felt like I had taken the right path. For literally the first time in my life, I had made a decision and taken action that made sense.
Ok so now were talking …. what’s next?
What followed was the most incredible and painful 6 years of my life. Lisa and I went on a journey that change my life forever. Through coaching behaviours and counselling conversation, through challenge and congruence, through self-discovery and self-awareness I became the person that I am today.
By the time our journey came to an end, I was ready. Lisa made sure of that. She challenged me, to dig deep into who I was, my purpose, my passion, my very reason for existing. It was often an uncomfortable ride and there were many times I wanted to avoid her because I just didn’t feel up to it. Ok so it wasn’t easy, but it was most definitely worth it.
When the call came at 7.34am on the 15th July 2009 to say Lisa had passed away. I knew what I had to do. Overwhelmed with grief and sadness I realised in that moment what the last 7 years had been about.
The moment I knew my life had changed and I was going to be ok
So, when I was asked the question “when did you know you were mentally resilient?” it was this moment. Because despite feeling sadder than I had ever been before, I was ok. I was sad beyond words. But not broken. Not defeated. In fact, I was empowered. I was going to grow. I was going to learn. I was going thrive. I was going to share this most amazing journey and help others, like Lisa helped me. I owed it to her to continue my journey and that is just what I have done.
Truth be told mental resilience is not a one stop shop. I have to work at it EVERY DAY!! Challenges and obstacles are a part of being alive and so we accept and expect them. Shit happens so they say, its what you do next that counts.
Over the years following Lisa’s passing I worked on every inch of my personal like. Relationships had always been my kryptonite and where I felt I always failed. So, I kept going putting in the work and now years on I reap the benefits. Whilst life is a work in progress, I can finally say that I have found balance in my personal life and it is joyful.
How these skills have helped me through the emotional journey of becoming a Start-Up
My business journey that almost never was
Ok so the same unfortunately could not be said for my professional life!! Rewind to January 2018. I had quit my job in the September thinking this is it! I am off and running as a Life Coach. Screw you 9-5 I am a business owner and I am going to change lives. Ummm big sigh. So, October was ok, November I started to feel the faint whiff of panic. By Christmas I was spiralling and when the New year came, I was a wreck.
Isolation, procrastination, self-doubt and poverty had eaten away at me and I was almost back to feeling like I did before I had met Lisa. WTAF! Why is no one asking me to coach them? Why are people not banging down my door? Why can’t I get anyone to engage or even respond to my Facebook Posts? Why … Why … Why …
So that’s the sound of the penny dropping. I was back to blame. How did I not see this? How did I forget everything I had learnt so quickly? I must be a real shit coach if I feel like this. Coach? Oh yeah, I am a coach? Oh right. I am a coach. What would a coach do? (seriously Ab WTF?)
Ok so I went right back to the beginning. What do I need to do to get through this? I need mental resilience. Ok so where did I get that from last time? Oh yeah, I got a coach!!!!!
If I were to give you one piece of advice (as coaches we don’t give advice, but for you I am willing to make an exception)
Do not go it alone, it’s really not any fun
Do not walk this path alone. Do not go on your journey alone. You will be the one taking the lead. You will be the one to process and work through the mindset changes to achieve mental resilience, but to try and do this alone is hard and in my experience, ineffective. To truly go deep, go deeper than you have ever gone before. You need help and support.
Get a coach. Find someone who is willing to challenge you. To help you through the pain and discomfort that comes with self-discovery and self-actualization. Your brain will always take the safe option, it is your soul that wants to fly. And to reach your soul you are going to need to dig deep.
Right ok so were, was I? Oh yeah, I had just remembered I am a coach. Ok so where did it begin last time? Oh yeah it began with me taking responsibility.
Thoughts – Emotions – Actions
“If you think you are great, and you think you are shit you are probably right”. Or something like that. Our thoughts are a very powerful tool. Reality doesn’t exist only our perception of it. So, if we think a certain way that will cause us to feel a certain way and our actions will be dictated by those feelings.
I was thinking that I should know how to set up and run a business. Loads of people do it, can’t be that hard, can it? I was thinking that if I was failing at it, then it must be because I am a shit coach. Didn’t occur to me that it was in fact my skills and belief as a start-up that was actually at fault. So here began the limiting belief cycle.
I needed to change that pretty sharp. As soon as I began to think differently about my situation, things began to change. Instead of blaming myself for being a crap coach. I started to think “where can I get some help to start a business?” Bingo!!!! I immediately started to see posts on Facebook about starting a business. I must have googled a few things (as I do) and bless the Facebook algorithm my newsfeed was instantly filled with posts about how hard it is to become a start-up. How isolating it was. OMG Isolating. that’s what I had been feeling.
I found the light
I need to find me some people sharpish. I came across a video for a group called StartUp Disruptors. paid my £9.99 went to a meeting and the rest they say is history.
I had found my next coaches. By connecting in this way, I was able to work my process once again, in a safe and supportive environment. Like coaches they allowed me to find my way, to focus my attention, build my confidence and finally shape behaviours to enable me to take action.
Action is what builds mental resilience. A good coach knows that confidence is a result of taking action, not a prerequisite. In simple terms you have to do it, in order to feel it.
We don’t wait for mental resilience to be achieved before we can move forward in our lives, we have to move forward in our lives in order to achieve it.
There is so much information out there, on the internet, in books, online courses and of course social media. Trust me I have searched through most if it. Many will tell you similar strategies to build your mental resilience.
Trouble is none of it means anything until you have passed over from the dark side into enlightenment. And for that you need help. My journey began not with a plan of how I was going to build mental resilience, I had no idea what that even was or that I needed it. My journey began with friendship, conversation, some coaching tools, a whole load of kindness and a bottomless bucket of trust. “trust the process”. Yep so now I know what that really means.
We don’t always know how the story ends. I had no idea how coaching would change my life. I had no idea just how tough I could be. How decisive I could be. I could not even contemplate how happy I could be. Lisa knew. She saw me. She saw the potential of what was inside, and she helped me to see it too.
“The universe will only send you what it knows you can handle”. For many years I thought this was some kind of spiritual crap that people said to you when you were in a hole and they didn’t know what else to say. Now I get it. Because the truth is, we can handle anything when we operate at our full potential. When we are the truest version of who we are. When we are our most authentic self. We can handle anything. Because it all comes down to 1 thing. Choice.
My definition of mental resilience is this:
Choose to take responsibility for what you think. Choose to take responsibility for how you feel. Choose to take responsibility for your actions.
Ok so How do I do it Abbie? I hear you ask. Well if I haven’t made it clear enough so far let me say it again. Get a Coach.
Below are my Top 12 Tips for building mental resilience and getting you mindset ready for the journey ahead.
My Top 12 Tips on how to begin building your mental resilience
1. Get a Coach
Not a good one. A great one. One that you like. One that you trust. One that sets the bar so high for you that you literally shake with excitement at the thought of reaching it. One that inspires you. One that challenges you. One that knows what you are capable of even when you can’t see it for yourself. One that empowers you to lead the way to your own enlightenment and one that will clap and cheer for you, every step of the way.
So, when I embarked upon a new phase of my journey – the journey of becoming a start-up. I needed to dig deep again and work my process. So here it is. These are the steps I took to navigate the emotional journey of becoming a start-up. From the tools I had already learnt back at the start. I took myself right back to the basics. Because although I felt emotionally resilient in my personal life, my professional life was a whole different story.
I got a coach. Ok so to begin with lots of coaches. I am a coach and therefore I am trained to take from a situation or conversation what I need to move forward. For me this looked like working with likeminded people to begin with. Today I have my own professional coach. “A Coach without a coach is like a doctor that won’t see a doctor”. My mental resilience has returned. Whilst there are still many obstacles and opportunities to learn ahead of me, I face it head on and with renewed confidence and perspective.
Coaching is positive and forward focussed. We don’t sit in our past, but we can glance back with purpose and learn from it.
2. Goal Setting – What is my why?
Goals are always associated with a feeling. Whatever the goal, I offer it is in fact how you want to feel once that goal is achieved that is the real goal. I had to find my Why. I thought I knew what it was, but after close examination it turned out to be very different. In business we need to know what direction we are going in; otherwise how can we know that we have reached our destination. Goal setting is vital and in order to do this we need help. Work through goal setting exercises to discover your why. Why you are embarking on this journey. What you want to gain from it. How you want to feel. What is the ultimate destination, how do you want to feel?
3. Create Positive Self-Belief
This is not a quick process. It won’t happen overnight. It takes time. We are all different and our success will be measured by own achievements and I offer these can be measured on a daily basis. However, resilience needs to be tested over time, and with each test it becomes stronger. Having a coach helps you to stay focused and motivated through the good times and the tough times. Our mindset is our biggest challenge both in life and in business so learning how to take control of it is essential. Exercises that encourage you to identify your limiting beliefs and then challenge them with evidence to dispute that limitation are a great way to build belief.
4. Do what feels right
In order to achieve mental resilience, we need to be at peace with who we are. Understanding our core values plays a huge part here. Working with a coach will enable you to identify your core values and learn how to use them to expedite your success and feel calm and confident in the process. When we align our goals to meet our values the process becomes far easier. A big part of mental resilience is knowing what makes us tick. Our core values are the key to finding out. Identify them and align your goals accordingly. Many of us align our values to meet our goals and this is painful, ineffective and unsustainable. Processes like selling for example, become far easier once we use our core values instead of ignoring them
5. Create behaviours and follow through
Following through on what you say you’re going to do, not only helps to earn the respect of others but also respect for and confidence in yourself. Developing your follow-through skills will also help you accomplish your goals and likely strengthen your resilience too. Creating behaviours and taking action is how we succeed. It helps us to avoid procrastination and overwhelm and keeps the inner critic at bay.
6. Get your head around time
Too little time and we panic too much time and we procrastinate. Both of these pose a huge challenge to your mental resilience. Get your head around what time you have. Create a visualisation of what actual time you have to work on or in your business and create behaviours and actions accordingly. Learning to love working on your business as much as in your business is made all the more powerful when we realise that we actually spend 50% or our available time on each. So, if you want to be happy 100% of the time you need to learn to love both equally.
7. Think Long-term
Often times, we trade in long-term happiness for more immediate gratification. We can build up our confidence by making sacrifices and decisions based on long-term goals rather than short-term comforts. Finding the discipline to do so will bring greater happiness in the long-term and a higher likelihood of achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself. For me this meant learning to be patient and trust the process. We are tricked into thinking that everyone else hit the ground running and became an overnight success. There is no such thing. Adjusting your expectations and plan accordingly.
8. Exercise for the mind body and spirit
Ok so this is a big subject one I feel could benefit from a whole blog of its own. For now, exercising our brain is as important as exercising our body. There are lots of ways to “exercise our mind and make it stronger”. Mindfulness. CBT. Questioning and challenge. Challenging ourselves to choose how we think. Yep big subject. Taking control of your thoughts is ground zero for mental resilience and this will for sure be where a great coach start.
9. Don’t fear failure. Accept it. Embrace it. Learn from it.
To be truly resilient we need to be prepared to make a few mistakes along the way. Resilient people are not afraid to step out of their comfort zone. They embrace the feeling of fear because they know what is on the other side. To become resilient, we need to be resilient. We do this through building belief and perspective and reflecting on what we learn. A truly resilient person loves the hard part, because in truth there is not hard part, just lessons learning and growing.
10. Stand up for what you believe to be true
The only thing we can truly know is ourselves. We are our world. And although we interact with others, our mind is the only real truth we know. Stand up for it. Demonstrate your authenticity. Be bold in your non negotiables and don’t be swayed by old negative beliefs. Try not to compare yourself to others. Play your own game and play all out. Something that was said to me recently “Abbie other people won’t take you seriously until you do” yep so that hit hard, and then I got up and took action. That’s how this works.
11. Don’t Care What Others Think
We all need support and I have been blessed to be surrounded by people who want only to see me succeed. That isn’t to say that there weren’t people who didn’t feel that way. There were. It is easy to fall into the trap of wondering what others may think of you, but it’s important to remember that what others think actually means nothing in the pursuit of your dreams. Build your confidence by believing in yourself and continuing to move forward, even when others might not agree with you. “if they are shooting at you, then you must be doing something right”. Often our growth will impact others negatively. Limit the amount of time you spend with these people. Chose to let go of the thoughts you have created because of their fears.
12. Do More of What Makes You Happy
Confidence and balance come when we are aligned with our highest selves and proud of it. In business this meant finding my niche. Seeking out the clients who inspire me. Clients that are ready to take that step and the next and the next. To lead the way. I have coached many people over the years and helped with all sorts of goals and expectations. Each has taught me lessons I never knew I needed to learn. Each brought its own challenges and from these I was able to grow. By asking myself (and by this, I mean, my coach asked me) who brings you joy, who inspires you? Who do you love to coach? I was able to find my true authenticity. I bring my “A” game every day now and it is the clients that I work with that enable me to do this.
What’s your experience with mental resilience? Is there anything you’re struggling with or did you discover something on your journey that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!