When times are tough, the tough get flexible.
That’s because flexibility, or the willingness to adapt, is an essential part of being resilient in the face of life’s challenges.
Let’s face it – when something happens that isn’t what we want or expect, our natural reaction is to push back. We resist and question why this thing is happening. More times than not, there is no good answer to that question.
Change is inevitable.
When challenges or setbacks happen, people who are more resilient have a mindset that not only accepts that these things happen, they actually anticipate that sooner or later they will. That gives them the opportunity to continually build their flexibility skills.
Flexibility allows us to pivot when necessary, change course, try new approaches and adapt our thinking so that it helps us move forward rather than hold us back.
Here are 3 ways you can become more flexible:
If the way you are looking at a particular situation isn’t helping, try looking at it from a different viewpoint. No matter what the circumstances are, there are multiple ways of looking at them. Each of these ways, or perspectives, comes with its own obstacles and opportunities. One way of looking at things is not better or worse than another. What’s more important is whether the way you are looking at the situation is helpful to you right now.It's not how you are looking at something; it's whether how you are looking at it is helpful. Click To Tweet
Usually we become attached to our current perspective even when it keeps us stuck or feeling overwhelmed. Learning to shift perspectives takes a little practice. Begin by asking:
“What’s another way of looking at this?”
“What are the advantages and disadvantages of looking at this situation in this way?”
Think in shades of grey
A black and white view of the world doesn’t leave a lot of room to consider other options. It’s a rare situation that only has one response or solution. We all probably have our one best strategy that works well most of the time. Sometimes though, our great solution doesn’t fit the current circumstance, even though it’s a really great strategy.
Add to that our tendency to become more rigid when we are under stress. We start thinking in terms of all or nothing, this or that, right or wrong. Resilient people understand that life is actually on a continuum and so they are open to multiple approaches. Watch for times when black or white thinking is present and ask yourself:
“What other options exist in between the extremes?”
Have multiple plans
In life things rarely go in a straight line. We make plans and then something happens to interrupt those plans. Accepting that this is a normal and natural part of life means that we can plan ahead for an alternate plan. Get in the habit of brainstorming multiple ways to solve a problem. When we regularly practice our problem-solving skills, we are better prepared to be flexible when plan A goes sideways.
Here’s a good reminder from author Claire Cook:
If plan A didn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters.
I get that when you are stuck or facing a challenging time, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. That’s why developing flexibility is a skill that is easier to learn when the stakes aren’t quite so high. Practice when things are going well. Every day there are always opportunities to switch gears and build your flexibility mindset.