What do religion, spirituality, and science have in common? Well, according to a study published recently in The Journal of Religion and Health, they all offer similar tools to help us boost inner resilience and cope with hard times. At the heart of these commonalities are two strategies that anyone can use, regardless of their background:
1. Think positive.
In psychological terms, this sounds much more complicated, but we’ve tried to simplify it here as “think positive.” If you’re able to reframe a situation in a way that changes its meaning for you, or “change your perspective,” you’re more likely to cope with adversity. The general idea is that how you approach the situation affects how you feel in the end. Of course, the danger in this thinking is that you can’t always believe your way out of a bad situation. It is important to acknowledge and accept reality instead of completely reframing or ignoring it. What is key here is to have hope. Focus on any remotely positive outcome to keep your spirit resilient.
2. Believe in yourself.
Having faith in your own ability (or in a higher power’s ability) to help you cope is another effective strategy. Stress, or distress, happens to us in many ways. There is some research that suggests that how negatively we perceive stress correlates to our ability to handle it. For example, if you perceive the weight of your stress to be totally overwhelming, you may not cope as well as someone who perceives it to be a temporary, surmountable challenge. Believing in yourself involves fostering the kind of self-confidence that is needed to push through adversity.
Despite sounding simple, neither of these strategies is easy. If you’re able to approach a distressful situation with an open and flexible mind—realizing that hardship is part of life, and that you may emerge from it a stronger person—you will likely pull through in a healthy way, with minimal damage to your well-being. This is something all human beings have in common, regardless of their beliefs, and something we strive to help our clients do as therapists.