Resilience: 4 Big Strategies to
Bounce Back From Life’s Adversities
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at
the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
– Helen Keller
Almost every day a client or friend shares a concern about a setback, challenge, or change she/he is facing. When life’s adversities happen, we make choices about how to respond. Are we stopped in our tracks or do we move forward? Are we strengthened or undermined? These conversations bring to mind the concept of resilience. Building resilience was the focal point of my doctoral research project, and a key aim of a multi-community prevention program I led for several years.
What is Resilience?
Resilience is the process of bouncing back from setbacks or difficult experiences.
Why is Resilience Important?
Resilience skills and attitudes can be learned! Resilience is not extraordinary; ordinary people can and do bounce back from adversities. Resilience does not mean we have no problems. Life is fraught with difficulties large and small. Resilience is important because it helps strengthen social and emotional well-being and discover solutions to move forward.
Resilient skills and attitudes, a resilient mindset, can empower us to learn from a situation, adapt more successfully, handle stress more effectively, and enjoy life more fully.
4 Strategies to Strengthen the Resilience Muscle
There are many resilience-impacting strategies. Here are a few to consider:
1. Identify negative ways you speak to yourself and replace these with more positive self talk
Have you ever noticed your self-talk? Do you say negative statements to yourself? “This is awful.” “What if I can’t figure this out?” When we pay attention, we can notice the words we say to ourselves throughout the day. Changing these words is a powerful practice to bolster well-being and resilience. Our beliefs about adversity can hold us back and may generate more difficult emotions than the adversity itself. Shifting our beliefs and our internal messages can make a positive difference in how we feel, how we solve problems and the decisions we make.
Here’s a strategy: Pick one area of your life you want to change. Pay attention to the words and stories you tell yourself about this issue. What is something you can realistically shift about your approach, belief, or emotion? Take the initiative to make even one small change to your internal conversations. One small step can lead to the next one.
2. Build positive, supportive relationships
Interactions with others matter a lot. Relationships with family, friends, co-workers, community are a protective factor that can bolster well-being during good times and tough times. It’s never too late to start.
A few ideas: Seek opportunities to let people into your life who care about you and whom you enjoy being with. Call a friend or get together to hang out. At work, invite a co-worker to have lunch or share a walk during a break. Many people find that becoming active in community groups, faith-based organizations, a social justice cause, volunteering, or mentoring children or adults makes a significant positive difference in their lives and the lives of others.
3. Strengthen communication skills
Relationships are strengthened much more by how we listen than what we say. Stronger listening skills can improve relationships and connections big time.
Consider these actions: Listen with the intent to really understand what the other person is sharing. Show you are listening by giving the speaker your undivided attention. Pay attention to the speaker without thinking about what you want to say next. Wait until the speaker has finished before you speak. Listen with an open mind and let the speaker know you are trying to understand what’s being expressed.
4. Practice Gratitude
My October 2016 newsletter offered four gratitude practices. Noticing the good stuff can provide balance especially when life feels challenging. Shifting perspective towards thankful appreciation for what we have can help us energize and move forward.
For other ideas to build the resilience muscle, please visit the Tips & Blog page on my website…
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In light and empowerment,
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