Resilience (Part 2) – Building Resilience

In my last blog, I talked about what resilience means, and how I define the three kinds of resilience. In this instalment, let’s take a little time to learn about how we can start to build resilience. We can learn how resilience helps us to become stronger and more self-accepting of our faults and our mistakes.

Resilience is not simply being able to bounce back from setbacks, tragedies and injuries. It also includes being able to learn from the mistakes we make. It also helps us to accept the consequences of our mistakes with grace and self-love.

Being resilient is a skill that is extremely helpful in all aspects of life. Whether you are trying to navigate a personal obstacle or a difficult workplace, being resilient will only ever be a beneficial skill to have. In fact, the skill offers a range of benefits. From reduced stress levels and increased employment prospects to superior emotional control and rapid injury recovery, resilience helps.

To build resilience and experience its benefits, I have put together three strategies that you may want to try. Before I talk about these strategies, I wanted to talk about why we need to re-train our brains before we can build resilience.

Negative Thinking

As humans, we can easily fall into a trap of negative thinking; and this can impact our resilience. It is human nature to have negative thoughts when faced with a situation we feel is out of our control. But having the ability to change your thoughts helps overcome obstacles and recover faster from situations where we feel we have “no control”.

Rather than succumbing to negative thoughts, we can learn to adjust our thinking so that thoughts become problem-solving constructs rather than dwelling on negativity. We don’t want to eradicate negative thoughts completely (as this might suppress emotions), but instead turn them into action steps that help get our power back.

Strategy 1 – Practice Gratitude & Mindfulness

Resilience means being able to bounce back and overcome the obstacles that life throws our way. One way to improve in this area is to practice gratitude. If you can focus on the good things in your life, you will gain perspective and this helps manage difficulties.

Mindfulness is being able to recognize what you’re thinking as you think it, and it helps you to focus on being in the present moment. It is especially useful for building resilience because it helps us to control our thoughts and emotions.

Being mindful stops us from letting our minds run wild asking “what if?”, and instead brings our thoughts back to the current moment (to “what is”), identifying those things we can control (our thoughts and emotions) rather than dwelling on what we cannot control.

Strategy 2 – Make self-reflection a regular habit

Establish a habit of self-reflection. It’s an important aspect of personal growth and is vital to building resilience. It means thinking about who and what we are being in any given moment and how we respond or react to a given conversation or in a situation.

Whenever you have experienced difficulty, spend some time over the next few days reflecting on how you responded. Assess your behavior and identify what you might have done differently. Use the information to guide future behavior.

Remember that you can’t change what you did or said, nor will you always form a perfect response in future (especially while you are learning), but self-reflection will help you to form the habit of being responsive instead of reactive.

Strategy 3 – Investing in your self-care

Your well of resilience is most often most needed when you are experiencing a tough situation. Being resilient can be energy depleting, so you must remember to invest in your own self-care and reward yourself for any wins you experience during periods of difficulty.

You may have seen “self-care” images of (predominantly) women taking bubble baths and applying face masks. You may think self-care means going for spa days and doing yoga. But self-care is not just for women, nor is it simply “pampering” yourself. Remember, men need self-care, too!

Here are a couple of easy to follow self-care ideas you can do on a day-to-day basis: avoid consuming drugs, drinking or smoking, get plenty of sleep, find community (based on shared interests). Whatever you do, self-care is for you (and no, it’s not all about spa days and yoga).