Build your resilience


We all go through situations where things don't go our way. How many times have you felt that change is dumped on you and the unexpected happened? Adversity doesn't discriminate. We all face adversity. 2020 is a great proof of that.


We can’t choose what happens to you, but we can choose how you respond.

Many people will collapse under under the stress and worry that comes from these situations, but there are a few who are able to handle these events in a stride. It's almost as if they perform better because of it. Why is that?

  • Do they simply have a different outlook?

  • What are the skills and behaviors of people who are resilient?

  • Can we learn from them and become more resilient ourselves?

Lets start by defining resilience. To really understand it, let's talk about what it's not. Resilience is not tenacity. It's not the ability to stick with a task no matter how tough it is and see it through. That's called grit and although grit is a necessary ingredient for success in any field, today, I am not going to be talking about pushing through. I want to talk to you about bouncing back.


Resilience is a key ingredient in the process of adversity and recovery. If we look for resilience on the dictionary we would find the following definition: Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties


Resilience is the ability to not fold under pressure even if you don't feel calm and confident.

Is to be able to sustain energy throughout highly demanding tasks and to be able to quickly pull yourself together, bounce back even if you're experiencing a major setback. It's not about avoiding the stress, but rather learning to thrive within the stress.


Before we jump to some tips on how to build resilience, because yes, resilience can be developed, let's identify some traits resilient people share:

  1. They stay open minded and flexible.

  2. They view a difficulty as a challenge, not as a paralyzing event. They look at their failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from, and as opportunities for growth. They don't view them as a negative reflection on their abilities or self-worth.

  3. Resilient people are committed to their lives and their goals, and they have a compelling reason to get out of bed in the morning.

  4. Resilient people spend their time and energy focusing on situations and events that they have control over. Because they put their efforts where they can have the most impact, they feel empowered and confident. Those who spend time worrying about uncontrollable events can often feel lost, helpless, and powerless to take action.

  5. They practice patience and kindness towards themselves and others.

  6. They are generally optimistic. they focus on the things they are grateful for vs the

  7. They live on the present. They move on and learn form their mistakes.

  8. They value and build good relationships.

  9. They know and consider their limits. They know when they need help and ask for it.

  10. They know how to handle rejection.

  11. They like to spend time alone to self-reflect and growing from them.


The next question you probably are thinking about is: How can you rise your increase your resilience? Like many other things, by practicing. Resilience is like a muscle.


Reframe your stress.

Your view of stress impacts your health far more than the stress itself. Stress is or can be both good and bad. To develop stress resilience, reorient your thinking about stress to see it as something that energizes and challenges you. This will improve your ability to deal maturely with difficult moments or crises.


Watch your internal conversation.

When you have a setback you need to monitor the internal conversation you are having with yourself. Are you blaming yourself? Do you ruminate on the situation? Do you tend to get stuck, focusing on all the things that went wrong? Many times we blame and talk to ourselves in ways that we would never talk to someone else.

Instead ask yourself:

- What can I learn about the situation, myself or others?

- What can I do next time differently next time to improve?

Instead of talking yourself to give up, talk yourself into learning and doing. Asking yourself these type of questions helps you move on. Instead of leaving you defeated and discourage it give you motivation to keep going and trying.


Take personal accountability.

When we are faced by a setback, one natural reaction is look for who to blame. My experience has been that when I am looking to who or what to blame I am more likely to stay down and give up; opposed to when I am ask myself what could I have done differently, looking inwards and taking responsibility.


Surround yourself with the right people.

Find community, find a positive supportive group you can trust and relay on. Share your struggles with others. When you have someone bounce your ideas, share your frustrations, you can move on quicker. Venting is ok, sometimes necessary. Being able to let things off your chess can help you speed up the grieving process that happens after you fall and can help you move into learning mode quicker. Think about who are the people you can go to when you have a setback. Who are the people that will listen and encourage you, and help you get out of the grieving move and into growing and learning mode.


Relay on your habits.

Setbacks can create a domino effect, that not only can ruin the situation / area of your life where the setback occurred, but it can affect other areas and habits in your life, which ends up making those bad feelings even worse. To avoid this, stick to your habits. Develop discipline.

For example: Let's say you forget to set your alarm and you wake up late. You are stressed because you are going to be late to work. You need to skip your morning workout, or your coffee, or any other component of your morning routine, or the entire routine all together. For me, that makes me feel like I am not in control, I feel stressed and frustrated and it has the potential to ruin my day. The secret is to jump right into the next habit. Jumping to the next habit can help break the negative cycle and help you get back on track with your day.


Recently I had the opportunity to listen to Michael O’Brien is the Chief Shift Officer at Peloton Executive Coaching taking about how to prevent a bad moment to become a bad day. He outlines four simple steps you can put in practice next time you have a bad moment:

  1. First, reconnect with your breath. I have a technique called Pause, Breathe, and Reflect. It’s a simple box breathing process to help you slow things down and create space for the next step.

  2. Then, ask yourself, how is it happening for me rather than to me?

  3. With this new awareness and gratitude, the next step is to transition to acceptance (i.e. it’s like this), and then consider what your following action should be.

  4. And then, since work and life are not solo projects, who’s in your community or peloton that would support you at this moment?


Choose carefully where you focus your attention.

Focus on the things you can change vs the things that you can't control.

On a prior blog I talked about the circle of control and influence. When we focus on things that are out of our comfort zone we just increase the stress and anxiety. Rather, focus on the things that you can control. When we focus on the things we can control, it's easier to take action and bounce back from a setback or challenging situation.


Focus on the positive aspects and opportunities vs the negative aspects of any situation.

Our nature, as human beings, is to focus on negative things, on the shortcomings, the things that can be improved. Our brains are programmed to ensure our survival. This helped caveman to survive threads form tigers and other wild animals. In today's world we are constantly being thread. Of course, most of those threads are not putting our life in danger, but our brains can't tell the difference and it's natural reaction is to turn on survival mode. While you need to still acknowledge the negatives on a situation, make sure focus rather on the positives. Ask yourself: what is the good in this situation?


Develop productive copying mechanisms.

To help you identify your own resilience level, let's look at two components, one is stress and the other is coping skills.

Think about it this way. You're bound to have days at work that range from a low to a high level of stress and throughout your life, you've had to develop coping skills to help you deal with the stress, be it low or high. When stress is low and coping skills are also low, not much is happening. You just might not experience much or may not even be engaged enough to notice that you're not using your coping skills to deal with a minor event. But if the level of stress increases, and your coping skills are poor, you will likely experience a rise in anxiety and lose confidence, a combination of unpleasant thoughts and feelings you definitely will be aware of. On the other hand, when your level of stress is low and your coping skills are also honed, you're in a situation where you have a sort of behavioral reserve, a safe place where you're feeling strong and ready to face even greater adversity. The ultimate level of resilience we want to achieve is developing coping skills that are effective even in situations where stress and uncertainty are also high.

Find ways to recharge.

Engage in regular activities that help you relieve stress and recharge. For me some activities that help me recharge include exercising, reading, journaling, reading, listening to music, talking to a friend, listening to a podcast, going for a walk, get some fresh air, etc.

What are some activities you can think of that help you recharge? Make sure you include these types of activities in your daily routines.


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