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Great Expectations

Life is ever-changing, fluid and challenging at times. Some of us cope better with closing chapters and starting new ones. Some of us cope better when things don’t go according to plan. Why?

Humour me for a moment as I talk about managing frazzled expectations using Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’ classic novel, Great Expectations, as my muse! In this complex and intriguing tale, Dickens explores the contradictions of life – wealth and poverty, love and rejection and good and evil.
 
When I think about people challenged by change, a dramatic image of Miss Havisham sometimes pops into my head. For those that need some memory jogging, Miss Havisham is a central character in the novel – someone whose demise directly correlates with an inability to adapt to her circumstances.  She’s wearing the wedding dress she was jilted at the altar in, sitting in her run-down, rat-infested home surrounded by cobwebs. Miss Havisham is a person burdened by her past disappointments and unable to find a way out of her misery.

What Miss Havisham was missing was resilience – an attribute needed for weathering any storm. She was unable to re-script her story, and got stuck in a one-dimensional narrative of what her life should have been!

esilience is a buzz word in popular psychology at the moment (Sheryl Sandberg has written about it in her inspiring book Option B.). I cannot emphasise enough the power of resilience in supporting seamless transitions from one phase of life to the next.
 
If only Miss Havisham had known about resilience! If only she could have learned to embrace Option B.
 
Resilience is a mindset. And we can choose to cultivate it. It’s not a single skill or task to master, but a collection of thoughts, beliefs and approaches to life. By being resilient, we can better manage our expectations and live fulfilled lives even with natural ups and downs.
 

 Let’s start 2018 by taking things in our stride year in our stride?
 
Try and go with the flow
Relinquish the need to control – this incorporates both people and your environment. 

Take time to do the things you love and spend time with those you love
Read a book, meditate, giggle with friends, go for a swim, take a morning walk, listen to music and have that long-awaited dinner with your ‘bestie’. Self-care is vital for resilience.
 
Show empathy and kindness
Often the fastest way to take our mind off our own worries is by showing compassion for others. The age-worn mantra that “you have to give to receive” is so true.
 
Practice hypnosis and/or mindfulness
Everyone who knows me knows I’m passionate about hypnosis. Hypnosis and mindfulness free our minds from constant chatter, allowing us much-needed space to rest and recharge.
 
Acknowledge and accept our negative emotions
Research shows that allowing ourselves to feel sadness and anger instead of repressing it is important for mental health. This doesn’t mean that we need to wallow in our own negative emotions, but that we  should positively acknowledge and share our feelings with a sympathetic set of ears.Here is where therapy comes in. We should not underestimate the power of the “talking cure” . Dealing with our emotions is a critical part of healing and resilience development.
 
So, as the shutters open on on 2018, I wish us all love, health, luck and  resilience. 

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