Building Your Resilience – Part 2

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A while ago, I wrote about resilience, which is the capacity to recover from difficulties and demanding experiences. I suggested that by building up your resilience, you speed up and improve your ability to get back to full strength after an adverse experience. I concluded that building resilience also helps you become stronger and better equipped to overcome your next challenge.

Ever since, people have been asking me to expand on the techniques I provided in that article.

OK. I give in. Here are some additional techniques to help you become more resilient:

Take Charge

Resilience is an outgrowth of mental toughness, and a key component of mental toughness is a “take charge” attitude. Obviously, you can’t possibly take charge of everything in the world, or even everything that happens to you. But you can think and behave just as though you do have a good deal of control.

This involves such approaches as:

  • Develop an internal “locus of control.” Psychologists talk about people who feel they have a strong influence on what happens to them, and those who don’t. The more influence you feel you have, the harder you will try to take relevant and purposeful action to make things come out the way you want.
  • Observe, analyze, and act. Directing your attention to what’s going on around you, understanding the forces at work, and acting forcefully to influence the situation are all components of taking charge over your work and your life.
  • Develop and show confidence. Feeling confident makes you less susceptible to outside influences, and showing that confidence encourages others to support you in whatever actions you decide to take.   

Focus

There’s always a lot going on. But it’s not all equally important. By focusing on the most important, urgent, and powerful forces swirling around you, you won’t be as surprised when they impact you. And that will make it easier to anticipate, plan for, and recover from their effects.

In addition, one key purpose of your efforts to focus should be to avoid worrying about forces or events that are entirely outside your control. You can and should anticipate or plan for at least some of what might happen. But simply fretting about events you don’t control will sap your mental strength and make you less resilient.

Experience Is Training

No matter where you are now, you’ve come from someplace else and you’ve forged a trail of learning experiences and results to get here.

So when something new happens to knock you off balance, it’s helpful to accept it as just another in a long line of learning experiences.

The good news is that most adverse experiences contain one or more valuable lessons. What’s more, they sooner or later fade, and merge into your history like so many others have done.  

Don’t Dwell on the Pain

Much of the experience we absorb in our work and our life is painful. That’s why we need to be resilient. But while pain certainly hurts, it eventually passes. And pain can also strengthen and teach.

That’s why you become more resilient when you face the painful experiences you encounter, and also when you later let go of them.

No Fakery

Many people think that resilience is all about pretending not to be hurt or damaged after a negative experience, and putting on a “brave face” when you don’t feel that way. It’s not.

Resilience is all about bending gracefully with the adverse forces that we encounter, and then recovering when you can. The adage about getting up after getting knocked down says nothing about pretending you weren’t knocked down. Nor does it prescribe how quickly you must get up again.

Openly and honestly facing the aftermath of adversity, and trusting your internal resources to recover, is where true resilience actually starts.  

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