Resilience is your ability to mentally and emotionally cope with a crisis and bounce back from one quickly.
Resilience exists in people who learn mental and behavioural capabilities that allow them to remain calm during a crisis and move from the incident without experiencing long-term negative consequences.
Being resilient means that you use behavioural and mental techniques to protect yourself from the potentially negative effects of stress-factors. Colloquially, we call this remaining calm in a storm.
Having resilience means expanding your capacity to cope with stress and adversity by believing, not just in yourself, but in something bigger than yourself.
Resilience isn’t an innate trait but something that we all can learn. These 10 tips will help you to develop the behaviours, thoughts and actions that will make you more resilient.
1. Master your emotions before they take over your life
Resilient people typically have a positive outlook on things. They keep reminding themselves that whatever challenges they’re facing are temporary.
They have previous experience of overcoming setbacks and trust in their own ability to succeed again.
Resilient people focus on what they can learn from any given experience, and what wisdom they can take from it to apply elsewhere.
2. Don’t try solving a problem with the same thinking that created it
Resilient people don’t keep making the same mistakes again and again. They might keep making mistakes, but they’re not usually the same ones.
They are willing to be honest about failure and what caused it without looking to assign blame.
They understand that getting to success is an iterative process and they take time to step back and think about what didn’t work and why.
3. Stay focused on where you want to go, not where you are right now
Resilient people have an adaptive attitude that allows them to focus on the possibilities in any given situation, rather than all the things that cannot happen.
They are not afraid to face their fears and to reassess what they need to do to get to the finish line.
Resilient people also tend to scale their problem solving and persistence as the challenge grows, and don’t shy away from increasingly disfavourable odds.
4. Keep challenging yourself
Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, instead, it tends to get more challenging as our capacity for overcoming adversity grows.
Resilient people always remember that it isn’t about what happens to us but what happens within us. Even when we cannot control the circumstances we are always in charge of our own response to any given situation.
By intentionally practicing overcoming challenges and putting yourself in situations where you need to push your boundaries, you’re constantly growing and becoming more resilient.
5. When you fall down, rise and rise again
Resilient people understand that we don’t fail when we fall down; we fail when we refuse to get back up.
It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again.
When you do face setbacks don’t put all your energy into feeling terrible because allowing yourself to wallow in feeling horrible about something will only make you feel more despondent.
Instead, think about where to go from here, what the next steps are and how to adapt to the changed circumstances.
When you learn to take a break instead of quitting, you’ll have the tenacity to never, ever quit.
6. Remember your gratitude
When you fall into negativity, prime your brain for oxytocin (the happiness hormone) by turning to positive thoughts.
When you feel like something seems impossible, start reciting the things and people you’re grateful for, the things that you’re already doing well and the things that are working out.
Reminding yourself of all the things you’re grateful for will also help you to step back from the immediate situation and remember what you started doing it for in the first place.
When you feel yourself starting to sink into despair, take a moment to remember your gratitude, and you’ll find that keeping a positive outlook becomes easier.
7. Celebrate the small victories
Resilient people don’t stare blindly at their end-goal; they remember to enjoy the journey as much as the achievement itself.
Celebrate the little victories that you’re able to achieve and set yourself rewards for completing tasks that you dislike.
If you’re always pushing happiness beyond the cognitive horizon: e.g. “I need to have a better paying job before I can be happy”, you’ll live out your days in miserable pursuit of something you’ve set beyond your ability to achieve because once you get that better paying job, you’ll realise there’s an even better one behind that, and so on.
By taking joy in the small things along the way, you’re allowing the journey to bring you strength and to energise you.
Life isn’t about being happy after achieving your goal, the road to it is where you get all your experience and wisdom from and there’s no reason you can’t enjoy the trip.
8. Keep planning for the future
Resilient people avoid becoming paralysed by negativity. They keep their spirits high by planning for the future, even when things are looking bleak.
Plans are useless, but planning is essential, as Dwight D. Eisenhower said. Planning for the future means you’re doing a mental exercise to come up with what you want and what you need to do to get it.
By planning ahead, you’ll think of different ways that things might not work out and come up with creative workarounds and viable alternatives.
And eventually, when you realise that plans really are worth diddly squat when it comes to D-Day, you’ll be well prepared to get to the goal by any means necessary.
9. Avoid labelling things as good and bad
Events simply are, we are the ones who label them good and bad. When you can step back from this judgement, you’re also taking a step back from finding someone to blame.
Instead, focus on why things happened rather than who made what mistakes. Assigning blame never really solves the problem itself.
Taking a neutral stance will allow you to disengage from an impulsive emotional response and instead make a carefully considered choice.
Try to think like a civil engineer who’s building a road from place A to place B. When you discover that there is a forest, a swamp or a mountain where the road is to go, do you get angry at those obstacles?
Of course not, you just think about how you’re going to get the road built despite the forest, the swamp or the mountain.
A challenge is a problem to be solved: a road to be built so that it goes through, over, under or around whatever is in the way.
10. Focus on your passion
Resilient people develop a personally meaningful reason that helps them have a clear sense of purpose and allows them to view setbacks from a broader perspective.
Being passionate about what you do will make it much easier to stick to it when things get challenging (or boring).
Maintaining strong and supportive relationships, both personally and professionally, will make sure that you have supportive people around you who can help you re-focus on your personal why if you’re feeling lost.
Generally, everything we do is in one way or another in service to others and connecting with the people we’re trying to help can be incredibly inspiring. So, don’t be afraid to reach out and get inspired!