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Bouncing back is the way on life’s bumpy road

Bouncing back is the way on life’s bumpy road

On life’s bumpy, twisty road with sometimes nasty surprises round the bends, being resilient and moving forward is the only way, say experts. Here are their tips for building the inner strength and getting back on track after a life-scarring crisis
A strong resilient woman
Representational image | Shutterstock

I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never going to keep me down.’ 

The catchy song Tubthumpingis much more than a one-hit wonder from the late 1990s. Its refrain is an ode to resilience.  

The ability to overcome adversity and bounce back in life is how one would define the word. And while the definition is simple enough, the act of doing it is not quite so.  

Psychotherapy and counselling experts say that helping someone to pick themselves up after an emotional crisis and adapt to new situations is part of the therapy process. It helps those who are struggling to see reason to rise and move on after a setback or an emotionally or physically painful experience.  

Overcoming adversity 

Resilience is believing that there is light at the end of a dark tunnel. 

At the age of 32, Munmun Guha suddenly lost her husband. She was then a mother at home to a five-year-old boy, and the three lived in Siliguri, West Bengal. The shock of her loss and not knowing how she and her son would manage pushed her into severe depression.  

After several counselling sessions, and with the unstinted support of her family on both sides, especially her sister, Guha started to slowly regain control of her life. She enrolled into a teachers’ training course in Kolkata and soon got a job in a private school. 

Monisha Sharma, counselling psychologist at Inara Collective in Bengaluru, describes resilience as “our capacity to overcome adversity”. According to her, “It’s a process of various systems and skills working together to reduce the negative impact of stressors, and enable better outcomes.” 

What are the stages and ways in which one recovers from a difficult situation? Here are a few.  

1. Acknowledging emotions is the first step, says clinical psychologist Samriti Makkar Midha, practising psychotherapist and co-founder, Equilibrio Advisory LLP, Mumbai.  

Embracing one’s emotions whatever they may be — disappointment, frustration or grief — is important rather than fighting the emotions. We need to honour the experiences,” she says. Sharma adds that often, when faced with a tough situation, we suppress unpleasant emotions without effectively resolving them. “We need to be aware of the emotions we experience, and create safe spaces to feel those emotions,” she says.   

2. Tapping into support systems: Midha says that in times of adversity, tapping into one’s community or social network is important. Friends, family, or even a podcast can bring comfort that the person is not alone.  

“A trusted friend, family member or a therapist can help one to navigate [an emotional crisis] and bounce back. We also need to be aware of community resources such as helplines, social work organisations, legal systems, neighbourhood support,” says Sharma.  

3. Grounding techniques such as mindfulness, conscious breathing exercises and meditation are extremely beneficial when the brain is inundated with anxious thoughts, says Nazarius Manoharan, life and executive coach at Nazarius & Co, Bengaluru.  

Techniques such as the ‘Loving kindness meditation’ that has its roots in Buddhism can help individuals in their journey to bounce back,” he adds.   

4. Gratitude has been proven to bring about a positive outlook. Manoharan says toxic positivity is not a healthy way to build resilience but studies indicate that gratitude is the key to happiness. It takes training and mind altering to be able to choose happiness, happy thoughts and being satisfied with what we have.”  

Finding their feet 

1. Looking within: Sharma says that while trying to build resilience, we need to ask ourselves some important questions. What is the problem? What is contributing to this problem? What may be making it better or worse? What solutions can one think of? Who can help?  

Now, Munmun Guha’s son studies abroad and she is trying to come to terms with her empty nest. “It’s not easy, but I do activities that align with my interests and keep myself mentally and physically engaged. When loneliness becomes overwhelming, I chat with my sister, who is my rock, and spend time with my extended family and friends,” she adds. 

2. Self-care: Often, when there is a change in our life, we break away from the routine. Midha says, “Inviting routine back is healthy, it makes you feel in control. It could be exercise, a hobby, or cooking. Without a sense of routine, one can feel helpless and powerless.” It is also important to get enough rest, eat well and take time off for some physical activity. 

3. Being in the present is important. Thinking of the future can make the person anxious, while the past can make one depressed. “Our minds [tend] to wander. So, it is important to be [in the] present and focus on the now,” says Manoharan. 

4. Small things matter: When we face adversity, it is easy to focus only on the big goals and overlook the little things that are helping us to build up our self-worth. “Each person’s journey is different. A plan that worked for someone within a few months could take years [to fructify] for another. But honouring the little things, for example, just showing up for therapy, are steps forward,” Midha suggests.   

“There have been several equally daunting challenges in these 18 years since I lost my husband. But once I learnt that I have the strength to bounce back from my loss, I started taking the challenges in my stride,” Munmun Guha says. 

The road to bouncing back after a negative event can be long, winding and frustrating. There may be moments when we want to give up, but it is in those moments that we understand ourselves and our world a little bit better. It is time to move on. 

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