The ability to stay open through pain, confusion, challenges, and uncertainty without succumbing to the urge to escape is an art that’s being lost on us.
Some of us are struggling to find the silver linings in life amidst a global pandemic, unable to see the enormous opportunities to grow into more hopeful, resilient, and empowered people during this challenging time.
This is not unexpected: When we face a difficult situation, most of us don’t instinctively run toward it. We avoid it. At work that might mean stifling our opinions to avoid confrontation or seeking only those opportunities that promise easy “wins.”
But this protective wiring doesn’t always work to our advantage. After all, challenges can teach us more about ourselves than victories. If we move through the darkness of pain instead of avoiding it, we can shed light on our undiscovered strengths. We can make sense of our lives and expand our mental frameworks to hold onto more than one perspective at a time.
The Upside recently explored this topic in an article by Homaira Kabir, a positive psychology coach. Kabir outlines how to stay open through challenges and uncertainty instead of running for the exit. In terms of neuropsychology, Kabir explains how to goal is to cultivate "a spaciousness where we gracefully hold space for the fear centers of the amygdala, while staying grounded in the farsighted wisdom of the higher cortex."
Kabir provides 5 simple steps—here's an excerpt; you can read the full article here.
Tap Into Your Emotional Agility
Many of us scramble for control when life catches us off guard. Sometimes we react in ways that don’t make us proud, and sometimes we try to control what’s best left alone. What’s more, we turn away from the possibilities that may have unfolded had we sat through the momentary upheaval. Practice asking yourself, “What would my ideal self do right now?” and you’ll find it easier to respond with emotional agility rather than fall prey to an emotional hijack.
Develop a Clear Vision
A vision gives us an ideal to strive for. In challenging times, it also strengthens us with hope. Research shows that hopeful individuals and teams have greater motivation, persistence, and creativity because they can withstand the emotional pressure to turn away from pain or uncertainty. A vision helps us sit with confusion and ambivalence while our minds connect the dots and look for creative solutions that keep us moving in the right direction.
Look for the Growth
There’s a beautiful quote by the poet Rumi that says, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” Studies show that we experience bursts of growth after the most trying times. Smaller challenges help build resilience, so that when life throws you the inevitable bigger darts, you’ll burst open and not apart. Through your struggles, big or small, ask yourself, “What’s the growth that lies here for me?”