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  • Melanie Lopes, MFT

What's all this talk about resilience?


You’ve probably heard the word “resilience” tossed around a lot over these past six months. Resilience is that ability to bounce back and adapt after a setback or hardship or challenge. Given all of the challenges that have come up through this difficult year, it’s no wonder that more and more people are talking about resilience, and specifically, how to build resilience to move forward and through challenging times.

As we’ve rounded the corner into Fall and head straight into the holiday season we are still nowhere near a return to “normal”. By now you’ve most likely hit a point of exhaustion or frustration with the various changes and restrictions that we’ve all had to deal with and you’ve probably had those days when you really miss certain things from your previous life. You also might be under a lot of stress that's been going on for months now leaving you feeling on edge, more irritable, and generally dissatisfied.

It might be hard to imagine "bouncing back" or building resilience right now when there’s no clear end in sight for this challenging time and you already feel pretty depleted.

resilience in challenging times

Fortunately resilience is something that can be learned and developed over time, even when you are in the midst of a stressful situation.

Building your resilience won’t make the challenges magically go away and it doesn’t mean you won’t deal with difficult emotions, but it does mean that you can learn to move through challenges with greater confidence, clarity, stability, and a better outlook.

You can keep things in perspective and see challenges as opportunities for learning and growth.

You can learn to better manage stress and overall, by building your resilience, you can feel better and feel better about yourself.

How do you build resilience?

Some of the basic elements for building resilience are being able to shift your mindset, or shift your way of thinking about the situation, and developing strong coping strategies to help you manage stress, anxiety, and all of the various emotions that come up when facing a challenge.

Being able to shift your mindset starts with acknowledging and accepting what you’re going through and the challenges that you face, rather than trying to place blame, downplaying, ignoring, or denying the problem altogether. It also involves recognizing that you have a choice in how you proceed and a responsibility to take action to move you forward, rather than waiting to be rescued, hoping it will resolve itself, or waiting for things to pass.

Because how you relate to the challenge is directly linked to how resilient you will be.

Denial + blame = low resilience.

Acceptance + responsibility = high resilience.

Taking a more passive approach keeps you in a victim mode where you consistently see bad things happening to you and you feel powerless and stuck. A resilient approach is more action-oriented and centers on the belief that you are capable and you have the power to overcome obstacles, learn from them, and move forward.

And that’s where developing strong coping strategies comes into play. When you develop strong coping strategies and are able to manage stress and other difficult emotions better, you can start to build greater confidence in your ability to move through challenges.

You can find some relief, think more clearly, and keep things in perspective so that you don’t feel so overwhelmed. Most importantly, you can start to believe in yourself more, and when you believe in yourself you can feel more empowered to take action and keep yourself moving forward.

So if you’re at a point where you are feeling stuck and unsure of what to do next because there are a lot of circumstances outside of your control that seem to be keeping you stuck, one thing you can do is focus on what you can control, and that’s how you are responding to your challenges. You can direct your energy toward building your resilience by first looking into ways to improve your coping strategies and also paying attention to how you are viewing your situation – are you falling into victim mode or are you able to see the opportunity for learning and growth?

Check out my next post - Keys to Building Resilience - where I go over five key components to build resilience and help you move through challenges with greater ease.


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