An Unusual Skill You Must Have

Do you have the skill to… bounce back?

Sure, you could try to live in such a way that you never have a bad day or mess up. But that sets you up for failure and discouragement, because bad days and setbacks will happen to us all.

The “make life perfect” skill is like a screen privacy hat… it sounds good, but doesn’t work in reality.

Total privacy! Because, you know, you would never wear this in public.

What if, instead of trying to make life perfect and panicking every time it falls short of that mark, people were just really good at bouncing back?

The bounceback skill changes your mindset from scared to empowered. Why? If you need perfection, you are vulnerable to any imperfect moment. But if you thrive at overcoming adversity, setbacks are not so much a threat as they are an opportunity to learn, grow, and gain confidence in your resilience.

2020 was a setback year for the entire world. Pain rippled through communities, families, and individuals. Aside from the direct pain the coronavirus caused, there was collateral damage to the mental health of those who were forced to isolate for months.

2021 is the year for bouncing back, so here’s what the skill looks like. But you might have a question first.

Is Bouncing Back Actually a Skill?

Yes! A skill is “the ability to do something well.” Skills are defined by their propensity to be improved with practice. And the sub-skills within the “bouncing back” skill are all things you can practice (except maybe the last one, but you’ll understand why when you see it).

These are the skills you’ll need if you want to be a master of bouncing back. Is there a more valuable skill than this? It’s like a boxer who can’t be knocked out. Knocked down? Yes, but not out. That’s a nightmare for any opponent, including the adversity in your life.

Those who bounce back…

Believe in the their self-efficacy, autonomy, and choice. In a nutshell, people who bounce back trust that their actions are the key to their success. Covid-19 happened to us, but we get to respond. Those with a high sense of self-efficacy and autonomy understand that some things are beyond their control, but they don’t forget the power of their choices to turn things around. This is a skill because practice improves it. The more often you believe, act, and see results, the better you’ll get at it when setbacks occur.

Forgive themselves. One of the worst negative spirals you can enter is that of shame. You feel ashamed about your behavior, and that shame weakens you into doing it again. Better yet, you can feel shame for what you don’t do. Maybe you feel bad that you haven’t yet bounced back and are still in a slump. That’s what fuels slumps! Forgive yourself for all you have or haven’t done in the past five minutes, years, and decades, and move forward now.

Have stabilizing habits. When life is unbearable, you may lose your ability to think clearly and make good decisions. Seriously. Deep anger, sadness, grief, and so on can cripple our mental strength. That can lead us into even darker paths and depressing days. And it’s when you’re hanging on by a single thread that you need that familiar hand to pick you back up. Sure, it could be a friend or spouse, but while they can help you to your feet, they can’t live your life for you. Stabilizing good habits are the foundation for any bounce back. Healthy eating, exercise, hobbies, and other routines can bring you back to life!

Have cats. The most important thing you can do to bounce back is have cats to snuggle with. When you are in a slump, and your cat says “brrrrrrwowah!” to you, it’s impossible to have a bad day ever again. But if you don’t have cats, try the other tips I guess? Or try a dog, because dogs are cool too.

Serious Note: I got cats last year and they have been a significant blessing and a boon to my mental health. On second thought, I talk to them constantly these days, so maybe I am going crazy in isolation. But there’s no way. I mean, would a crazy person have pictures like THIS?

ATTN National Geographic: I am available.
Sprout took this selfie with his foot?
An ordinary day in the Guise household.

Okay, fine. I may be crazy, but at least my cats are cute.

In summary…

  1. Believe in the power of your choices and actions to determine the direction of your life. Every time you do it, you improve the skill.
  2. Forgive yourself for missteps. Shame only weakens you. You can learn from things without beating yourself up. Every time you do it, you improve the skill.
  3. Always work to create or strengthen stabilizing habits. These are habits you can go to when everything else is falling apart. They become a shelter of normalcy and strength when life becomes a hurricane.
  4. Have cats, or dogs. It’s not even a joke. It’s science!
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