Resilience affects how well we adapt to the challenges in life – challenges that we all face at one point or another. Losing our jobs, the death of a loved one, the end of a romantic relationship, physical illnesses, trauma. These hardships can’t be avoided. The more resilient a person is, the better they can “bounce back” after dealing with what life throws at them. Luckily, resilience isn’t just a trait you either have or you don’t – it can be developed and grown. Here are some ways that can help you work on your own resilience.
The first important thing to understand is that a resilient person isn’t someone who can and does deal with everything alone. Quite the opposite, in fact. Studies show that having supportive relationships is instrumental to building resilience. Investing in loving relationships with people who can be good role models and offer encouragement, is one good way to help build resilience.
Action: Write down three people you can turn to for support. I encourage you to select a family member, a friend and a colleague. Because we need to lean on different people for different challenges.
Another good indicator of resilience, and one that can be practised, is self-compassion. The understanding that you will make mistakes like everyone else – and still deserve love and understanding – is important in determining how quickly you can jump back from a challenge. The less time you spend beating yourself up for your mistakes, the more time you will have to move ahead! People with high levels of resilience see challenges as a point in time, not a reflection on their worth.
You can work on self-compassion as you practice mindfulness. Becoming more aware of your thoughts without getting attached to them, can help you change your inner monologue. When you catch yourself talking to yourself in a negative way, remind yourself that it’s just a story and let it pass. In short, regular meditation practice is a good way to develop this skill.
Another practice on the road to developing resilience is slowly facing your fears. For example, if you have a fear of public speaking, you don’t have to go speak in front of 500 people. Start small and build yourself up. If you go gradually and don’t push yourself too hard, you will be able to develop a sense of competency and change your thoughts around your fear.
This goes in line with setting reasonable goals. This will help you see where you want to go and assess where you’re on the right path. Problems that come up will be more likely to be seen as temporary setbacks rather than permanent new realities.
Changing your perspective on setbacks can help you deal with them. Journalling can be a good way to get your feelings out and change your perspective on them, rather than ruminating in your head.
Above all, don’t forget to take time for self-care. Chasing accomplishments and self-improvement can cause you to neglect some of your basic needs, like getting enough rest, exercise, and nourishing food. However, neglecting these needs can make you even more stressed, which in turn will set you back even more.
It might take a bit of time, but practising these things regularly will help you develop a stronger sense of competence and resilience. Remember that the road to developing a new skill isn’t linear, so you will see varying degrees of progress. You’re on your own path – don’t compare yourself to someone on a different trail.