Real Time Resilience
I had a great opportunity to practice resilience recently. I compete in agility with my awesome 5 year old corgi, Ziggy. We qualified for a national competition that happened a few weeks ago. Now people say “it’s not about the ribbons or awards”, but…it is, especially at a national competition. Long story short, Ziggy and I had an off weekend. We only qualified in three out of nine runs. We usually do much better than this, but we were just a little out of sync. Agility is a great training ground for me to practice resilience especially when we don’t qualify. After a particularly disappointing run, I felt so frustrated and upset. I heard that critical inner voice telling me that we should have done better, it was a stupid mistake. I even had a few choice words for Ziggy which I kept to myself. Dogs are super sensitive, so I think he knew I was disappointed. I saw myself going down that rabbit hole of negativity, and I knew I had to find a way to stop myself. When I’m teaching, I often tell my students to focus on what went well, even if they didn’t do as well as they would have liked. This is especially helpful for the perfectionists who despair after getting a B not an A. So…now it was my turn. I took out my journal and wrote down all the things that went well with our run, and there were many. In fact, 99% of the run was perfect. Naturally, I, like many, focus on that other 1%. I very intentionally re-directed my attention to the good parts, not avoiding the mistake, but coming up with a plan to do it better the next time. The hard part is that there aren’t awards for being 99% perfect, so I had to find a way to reward myself and Ziggy. Writing down the positives as well as creating a plan to try and fix what went wrong, really helped me to move away from frustration and disappointment. Those feelings were still there but much less loud.
It’s not easy to focus on what went well when you’re faced with disappointment whether it be a lower grade, not qualifying on an agility run, or not getting the job you interviewed for. It’s natural to feel disappointed and/or frustrated. The key is to intentionally review what went well, and come up with a plan that might help you with the parts that didn’t go so well. Life is full of opportunities to practice resiliency. I know I’ll have many more chances in the future.