Six Tips for Building Resilience

In March and April, the theme for SWC is “resilience.” Psychology Today defines resilience as:

“...the psychological quality that allows some people to be knocked down by the adversities of life and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties, traumatic events, or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, highly resilient people find a way to change course, emotionally heal, and continue moving toward their goals.”

Building resilience isn’t simple or easy. It takes time and intention - and a willingness to cut yourself some slack. Some of us may simply be more naturally resilient than others from the standpoint of genetic predisposition.

Here are some strategies for building resilience from this informative article:

Tip #1: Let yourself feel lousy every once in a while. Resilience isn’t about masking your pain and pretending everything is peachy—you’re human, not a machine. In short, what matters isn’t how you feel in the moment, it’s that you overcome it and stand back up. That’s resilience.

Tip #2: Know that you’re the only one who can control your fate. One study showed that the most resilient people have something called an “internal locus of control,” meaning that they believed that they, not their circumstances, were in the driver’s seat. They believed they were the controllers of their own future, and the circumstances they were put in were not a deterring factor. How can you apply this to your life? In short, take decisive action. It’s tempting to use fate as an excuse for your future, but take control as best you can.

Tip #3: Keep yourself value-centered. A handful of studies have found that having a moral compass—an internal system of values and ethics—goes along with higher resilience. Strong ethics and morality seems to give purpose to our lives, which in turn gives rise to resilience.

Tip #4: Recharge with a workout. Exercise is often a mini metaphor for life’s larger challenges: We set short-term goals that build mental momentum to reach larger goals in the long term. Pushing through on both good and bad days is resilience in action.

Tip #5: Don’t set unrealistic goals. One of the characteristics of resilient adults is that they set realistic educational and career goals for themselves. If we set too many lofty goals, when we fall short of them we will blame that failure on ourselves. So keep the scale of your goals reasonable. Challenge yourself and aim high, of course, but be fair to yourself.

Tip #6: Express your feelings. One study found that those who were able to 1) draw on support from friends and colleagues, and 2) genuinely express their emotions from sorrow to frustration to joy, were less prone to burnout. So tell people you trust how you really feel. Be honest and authentic rather than trying to please everyone and you’ll come out feeling relieved and sane.

I think these 6 tips are a great starting point for cultivating resilience. I am going to check back in with them every once and awhile to see how well I am remembering them.

With love and light,


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