12 Hacks for Bouncing Back in Life

Updated: December 10, 2012

Bobbi Emel

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This guest post is by Bobbi Emel.

It’s slowly dawning on you.

Unlike what you thought when you were a rosy-cheeked kid, life isn’t one constant upward ride. It’s full of ups and downs, twists and turns.

To become an expert at bouncing back from the downs and navigating those turns, try on these 12 tips for size.

1. Accept the reality of your situation

If you’re in the middle of bad circumstances, it’s time to do away with any kind of denial you might have and really see what is happening.

Peel back whatever intense emotions – fear, anger, sorrow – that are wrapped up in the problem and look at it for what it truly is. If you don’t get very honest with yourself about your circumstances, you’ll spend a lot of time and effort maintaining a façade that will only come tumbling down later and make the problem much worse.

2. Recognize that change is a constant

You fight change. You expend a lot of energy trying to keep things the same in your life.

Guess what? It’s time to realize that change is one of the few things that stays constant. It’s always going to be in your life.

So, if it’s a normal, consistent part of life, why struggle with it? Why not expect it and look for the opportunities it brings rather than dread its arrival?

3. Use self-compassion

It’s okay to be nice to yourself.

In fact, research shows that being self-compassionate improves both physical, mental, and emotional health.

Kristin Neff, the pioneering researcher in the field of self-compassion, suggests these three components to improve your ability to treat yourself kindly:

a.) Be aware of your inner criticisms. If you wouldn’t talk that way to your best friend, don’t talk to yourself like that.

b.) Because we experience our thoughts and feelings in isolation – within our own bodies and minds – we tend to think we are the only ones who have particular flaws and weaknesses.

Remember that you are part of a larger group – the human race. We all have flaws, we all make mistakes.

So, the next time you notice that you are beating yourself up about something, remember that, as a human being, you are bound to have at least a few deficiencies! Let it go.

c.) Be mindful. Notice your thoughts and feelings, but have no judgment about them. Just note what they are and don’t add to their impact by thinking how they should be.

4. Let it go

Resiliency requires flexibility and openness in order to problem-solve most efficiently and be aware of new opportunities.

Holding on tightly to a belief, behavior, or material object only drains your energy and narrows your focus onto that object. Then your ability to see outside of yourself and your situation is drastically reduced.

Practice by noticing when you feel tense and stressed and then consciously letting go of whatever you were just thinking about.

5. Create a tribe

It’s vital to have friends and family who can rally around you in an emergency. Make sure you have a good, stable tribe at your disposal.

6. Develop post-traumatic growth

When people experience trauma, a small number develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the majority bounce back naturally after a month or so, and the remaining people actually grow and benefit from the experience.

How is this done? The essentials are being optimistic and looking for the lessons in their lives. Give it a try.

7. View things from different perspectives

Although the crisis in front of you may look dire, ask yourself if there is another way to look at it. Might it actually open up opportunities for you? Are you magnifying it unnecessarily?

8. Rely on past experience

Remember that you’ve made it through tough times before.

It’s really easy to get so involved in your current situation that it seems like the biggest thing in your life. Ever.

But, unless you’ve led a charmed life, you have had other difficulties that you’ve come through and here you are now to talk about it.

Take heart from the knowledge that you got through adversity before and you very likely will again.

9. Give yourself a break

It’s important to refresh both your body and mind so take a break now and then. Some researchers call these “psychological timeouts” – a way to restore yourself by getting away from the intense emotions that often come along with problems.

And remember that it’s okay to distract yourself from mental and emotional experiences like grief and rumination, too. You could use a break. Go do something fun. See a movie, rock climb with friends, laugh, have some coffee.

Really. It’s okay.

10. You don’t have to like what’s happening

Somehow this idea of accepting your situation has taken on the added implication that you must also like what you accept.

Nobody said that.

You can be accepting, open, and flexible while at the same time acknowledging that the problem sucks.

11. Look up

This is so simple it may seem silly, but actually looking up every once in awhile can be just what is needed in times of trouble.

Because we tend to look down a lot, we can get very focused on our feet, the desk, or whatever is directly in front of us. This physical focus mirrors our internal focus.

When you take a moment to look up, you’ll notice a lot of things you haven’t seen for awhile.

The interesting architecture on that building. The different shades of gray and white in those clouds. The birds who seem to balance miraculously on that wire.

And, as your attention expands to take in the things above you, your internal focus will expand, too. You’ll start to get new ideas and new angles on where you are right now in life.

Next time you feel yourself staring at the ground, look up.

12. Be kind to others

Commit random acts of kindness.

Science has shown that helping others creates positive emotions actually creates physical changes in your body that expand your sense of possibilities in the world - the idea that there is more than one way to get through your current crisis.

Problem-solving a situation becomes much easier and you’ll find that positive emotions help exponentially with your ability to bounce back.

So look for opportunities to help others, especially when you feel like you’re the one needing help.

How do you bounce back in life when you are down in the dumps? Let us know in the comments below this post.


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