Your guide to build resilience and fight life challenges
Between the global pandemic, the war in Europe and the rising cost of living, resilience is a skill we could all use. Whether you want to be steadfast and influential at home or at work, we all need tools for navigating hard times, uncertainty, and difficult emotions.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult situations, failure, or trauma. To have the strength to carry on despite what you have been through, and to also have grown beyond it to become a stronger person by having resilience within you, greatly aids in well-being and mental health.
Building resilience gives you the ability to cope with adversity and to use challenges to forge strength and prosperity. Some people are well equipped with resilience while some must work harder to develop resilience to become mentally stronger.
The good news is that this can be done, that is, resilience is a skill that through hard work and perseverance can be developed and enhanced. Our Building Resilience Course will provide you with an opportunity to grow these skills and character, discover who you are, and steadfastly overcome obstacles in life and thrive while at it!
“When you look into your own heart, your visions will become clear: Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung
In this guide to building resilience, we are going to cover:
What does resilience mean?
We all need tools for navigating hard times and difficult emotions. We need ways to build resilience against stress and feelings of depression. To help us through periods of change, challenges and uncertainties that have been multiplied by our current times, whether that is at home or at work.
Resilience can be explained or defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, or times of trouble. In the physical sense, resilience is defined as the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape, therewith having elasticity.
Psychologists define resilience as having the ability or capacity to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress (Building your resilience, 2021).
Having resilience does not mean that a person will never experience difficulties or distress. Life is full of trials and tribulations, and sometimes things happen that are out of our control, and these things or events can be difficult, and may often feel unbearable. However, when going through difficult times, it is the resilient person that will be able to withstand these difficulties, who will endure them, and who will even grow from having experienced them.
As Friedrich Nietzsche said, ‘If you know the why, you can live any how.’ Discovering a sense of purpose supports self-esteem, well-being, and mental health, some of the key concepts of building resilience.
Why is resilience important?
Resilience has many benefits, and enhances the following aspects of life:
- Positive emotions: positive emotions are vital to broaden our awareness and to build our inner resources.
- Engagement (positive engagement): engagement aids in resilience because when a person engages in a challenging, interesting, but enjoyable task, their brain produces serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters known as the ’feel-good hormones’ that are produced when we engage in pleasurable activities. When our brains are fuelled with enough serotonin and dopamine, we are more resilient to hardships because we feel more optimistic in general.
- Relationships: an integral part of resilience and wellbeing is positive relationships. We are less resilient when our relationships are destructive, draining, one-sided, or if we are isolated. If relationships make you feel supported, included, understood and well taken care of, you will have the energy to foster resilience in times of trouble.
- Meaning: ‘Meaning in one’s life can be many things and what brings meaning for one person, will not bring meaning to the next. For some in the concentration camps meaning was to stay alive to see a husband or wife or child again, to be reunited with siblings, or to finish an important life task. It was thus something positive to hold onto and it gave meaning to their suffering, and it ultimately kept them alive.’ – Viktor Frankl
- Accomplishment: knowing that we can do something, and do it very well helps us build a healthy self-esteem, and when things get rough or when life throws you a curveball, you will be more resilient, compared to not having any mastery or accomplishment skills.
Examples of resilience
Have you ever heard of grit? Grit can be described as having perseverance and a passion for long-term goals. People with grit set long-term goals, and they persevere at their goals over the long-term. Having perseverance and not giving up in the face of adversity or setbacks are illustrated some of these success stories:
- Albert Einstein persevered even when his teachers and parents thought he was intellectually disabled.
- J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, was a single mother who lived in public housing. Her manuscripts were rejected countless times, but she persevered and became one of the biggest publishing success stories.
- Michael Jordan, the NBA basketball star was kicked off his high school team because he apparently lacked talent. Jordan has been quoted as saying: ‘I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.’
How do you build resilience?
The three core factors that contribute to resilience:
Let’s look at all of these in more detail and expand on themes to address for each factor.
1. Self-esteem and confidence
To build resilience one must work on strengthening one’s self-esteem and self-confidence in general. When we have a low sense of self-worth, navigating difficult changes and challenges can be underscored with feelings of inadequacy, depression, avoidance and many others.
So, it makes sense that to start building resilience, one first needs to understand how self-esteem and confidence is formulated and more importantly, how it can be improved.
The themes to cover to address this core factor is:
- Knowing how to nurture and take care of yourself
Self-care motivates you to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself so that you have the health and energy to be good to others too. You cannot give to others if you do not have anything to give yourself. Self-care is not selfish, but necessary. What do you think it says when you take care of yourself, and when you nurture yourself? What does it say to yourself, and what does it say to others?
- Growing in becoming effectively self-aware
Self-awareness helps you build resilience so you’re able to bounce back from any setback in your life. When you understand your strengths and also areas for improvement, you’re able to adjust accordingly, acquire extra knowledge when necessary, and make positive decisions that reflect who you really are.
- Knowing how to boost your self-esteem
Self-esteem is the confidence in one’s own worth or abilities and is related to self-respect. Believing in yourself and accepting yourself for who you are is an important factor in success, relationships, and happiness and that self-esteem plays an important role in living a flourishing life. Self-esteem aids in our beliefs about our abilities and the motivation to carry them out reaching a state of fulfilment as we go through life with a more positive outlook as a result of a healthy self-esteem. Good, healthy self-esteem is responsible for helping us achieve our goals, and to survive and recover from disappointments and failures, thus helping us become more resilient.
- Becoming intelligently aware of your thoughts
Resilient people don’t let negative thoughts derail their efforts. Instead, they consistently practice positive thinking, and they know when their thinking patterns are negative and dysfunctional, and they work at improving such thoughts. They also know the effect of negative thinking. This means listening to how you talk to yourself when something goes wrong – if you find yourself making statements that are permanent, pervasive or personalised, correct these thoughts in your mind. This is called cognitive restructuring. Practice cognitive restructuring to change the way that you think about negative situations and bad events. The Building Resilience Course will show you how!
- Learning to embrace and utilise your emotions
Lean into your own emotions and learn skills to become aware of your emotions, embrace it healthily and know how to deal with especially strong emotions in a constructive way. Although excessive negative feelings inhibit learning and communication, emotions play a vital role in relationships, conversations and feedback. They convey emphasis and let others know what we value. Emotional experiences stick with people, last longer in their memories, and are easier to recall. So, while you’ll want to avoid triggering a threat response, don’t try to remove all emotion from your relating. That can diminish the impact of your presence and lead to a cycle of ineffective behaviour. Instead, aim for a balance: express just enough emotion to engage the other person but not so much that you provoke a hostile or defensive reaction, shut down the conversation, or damage the relationship. By having more aware/mindful conversations, we learn not only how specific individuals respond to us but also how we express our emotions in helpful and unhelpful ways.
2. Self-control and change
Getting tied down with the daily stressors of life can be a big reason that we lose our emotional resilience. We become more sensitive, we may overreact, it can cloud judgement and even leave you feeling emotionally unbalanced. On your journey to becoming more resilient you will learn about the importance of self-control and making some changes when it comes to self-control.
The themes to cover to address this core factor is:
- Address your anger constructively
We have all felt anger: whether as a fleeting annoyance or as full-fledged rage. Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. But when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems—problems at work, in your personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life.
- Overcoming anxiety and stress
Coping with stress, or better to say, effectively coping with stress contributes directly towards building resilience. The whole idea of being emotionally resilient revolves around how well we are able to handle stress and get back on track. Also note that some stress can even be healthy, it is to know when the stress becomes distress (or eustress) that is important in order to manage yourself and get back to balance. Studies have indicated that resilient individuals can deal with stress more effectively. They can bounce back from any stressful situation with positive energy and confidence, and they are more likely to learn lessons from traumatic encounters rather than get overwhelmed by them.
- Developing effective problem-solving
People who are resilient will have effective and efficient problem-solving skills. They will be able to understand a situation, identify the correct issue and create the best solution. They are unlikely to misread the situation, identify the wrong topic and then produce the incorrect answer to that issue. Those who are not as resilient may not solve problems as well and may inadvertently choose options to make the situation worse.
- Enhance growth and learning from failures
Every mistake has the power to teach you something important, so look for the lesson in every situation. Also, make sure that you understand the idea of “post-traumatic growth” – often people find that crisis situations, such as a job loss or the breakdown of a relationship, allow them to re-evaluate their lives and make positive changes.
- Becoming effective in embracing change
Resilient people understand that things change, and that carefully-made plans may, occasionally, need to be amended or scrapped. Flexibility is an essential part of resilience. By learning how to be more adaptable, you’ll be better equipped to respond when faced with a life crisis. Resilient people often utilise these events as an opportunity to branch out in new directions. While some people may be crushed by abrupt changes, highly resilient individuals are able to adapt and thrive.
- Become self-motivated
The ability to motivate yourself is another important skill for resilience. Self-motivation drives people to keep going even in the face of setbacks, to take up opportunities, and to show commitment to what they want to achieve. Self-motivation is, in its simplest form, the force that drives you to do things.
- Growing in maturity
Mental health is synonymous with maturity, and maturity is born of responsibility. You cannot be mentally or emotionally healthy, and thus resilient, if you are irresponsible. People with maturity understand a great truth; they understand that life is difficult. In being able to accept this fact about life, mature people learn to handle life in all of its difficulties, not expecting it to be different. They have learned to accept that not everything in life is going to be their way, show up in the way they thought it would and nor will the world change on its axis to make them happier. Mature people know for any change to happen it has to come from within themselves, and this is where success or failure develop. The only way to live a more fulfilling, successful and purpose-driven life is when the choice is made to fully develop and live the attitudes and principles of a matured person.
3. Social skills development
As you have heard before, we are not meant to live an isolated life. We have the abilities to communicate, and need a support network to be resilient in times of trouble, so how does one develop healthy social skills?
The themes to cover to address this core factor is:
- Relate with empathy
Empathy can be defined as our ability to put ourselves in others’ shoes and appreciate how they are likely to be feeling or thinking in a given situation. What might it feel like to be them? Daniel Goleman, who coined the concept of ‘Emotional Intelligence’ stated that ’empathy is the most important people skill’. Theresa Wiseman, a nursing scholar, suggests four attributes need to be present to practice empathy:
- You need to see the world as the other sees it. Seeing their perspective as their truth.
- You need to be non-judgmental. Just because they see things differently, doesn’t make it wrong!
- You need to be in touch with the other person’s feelings. Be aware of how those feelings might differ from your own.
- And You need to communicate your understanding of the person’s feelings. Rather than saying, ‘At least you…’ or ‘It could be worse…’ try instead, ‘I can imagine that is overwhelming’.
- Relating well to others
As humans are not made to live isolated lives, we are meant to support each other and to be connected to each other through solid and trustful connections and loving and supportive friendships. To become more resilient, a strong network of friends, mentors and family is necessary.
The development of social skills that will inevitably aid in building more resilience will be addressed in the Building Resilience Course, so be sure to sign up for it. By the end of this course, you will be equipped with the skills and know-how to navigate your professional or personal life with greater courage and enhanced resilience in order for you to live the life of purpose, fulfilment and success that you desire!
I trust this provided you with insight into the immense value you will receive from embarking on this learning journey!