It sucks to fail. That’s why most of us spend our lives trying to do whatever it takes to succeed. Whatever it takes to avoid failure. But, like death and taxes, failure is one of the few guarantees in life. Whether it’s a class, a work project, or a relationship, you’ll likely fail at something during your life.
So, rather than spending your time and energy avoiding failure, can you learn to deal with it instead? Enter resiliency. By training yourself to be more resilient, you can learn and grow from your failure. You no longer need to live your life in fear of failing.
That’s why in today’s article, we’re going to define resiliency, tell you why it matters, and detail how to become more resilient. So, keep reading to learn what it means to be resilient.
What is Resilience?
There are many definitions of resilience. But generally, as defined by the American Psychological Association (APA), resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. In other words, it’s the ability to become strong, healthy, or prosperous again after something bad happens. It’s the capacity to bounce back from difficulties.
Why Does Resiliency Matter?
Being resilient is essential no matter who you are. Because the truth is, there’s no way to avoid failure or adverse events altogether. Someone you love will die. Or a natural event will destroy your home. Something out of your control will drastically change your life.
How you respond to these adverse events is what makes resiliency. If you’re unable to return from a setback, temporary situations will become your permanent state. That’s why it’s necessary to cultivate resiliency in both ourselves and our children.
How do you Become More Resilient?
So, we know what resilience is and why it matters. The question remains, how do we improve our resiliency? Luckily, being resilient is a type of skill. Something anyone can practice and improve, if willing. Here are 11 ways you can become more resilient:
1.) Work on Your Relationships
Social connection is foundational to humanity. At our core, we’re pack-animals. Biologically hardwired to seek safety in groups or communities. That’s why research has shown interpersonal support is one of the strongest predictors of resilience.
We all need a community to support us and help us solve or talk through problems. Per the APA, focus on finding trustworthy and compassionate people who validate your feelings. This empathy supports the building of resilience.
2.) Help Others/Give Back
A crucial part of social connection is giving back to those around you. That’s because altruism is hard-wired into all of us. Researchers from the University of Washington discovered babies as young as 19 months demonstrate altruistic, generous behavior.
Similarly, a study by Ascent found when people behave generously; they report having a greater sense of meaning and satisfaction in their life. Because helping others connects you with them. Through altruism and this selfless connection, you can find a sense of purpose and foster self-worth. All of these factors help empower you to grow your resilience.
3.) Care for Your Body
While it may seem counterintuitive, maintaining your physical health is paramount to improving your mental health and making you more resilient. That’s because your physical health is inexorably linked to your mental wellbeing.
So, work on building positive lifestyle habits like eating well, getting enough sleep, and regularly exercising. When your body is physically strong, you’re better able to withstand the toll of stress, thereby boosting your resilience.
4.) Care for Your Mind
Working on your physical health is vital to your overall health. But just as crucial to building your resiliency is the health of your mind. Like lifting weights or eating healthy, practicing mindfulness is essential to your overall health.
Journaling, yoga, meditation, or prayer are examples of mindfulness practices that can help make you more resilient. These practices connect you to the world and help restore a sense of hope. This sense of hope, which we’ll talk about later, is essential to becoming more resilient.
5.) Avoid Negative Outlets
Anytime you’re hurting or stressed, it’s tempting to paper over this pain with alcohol, drugs, pornography, or other mental distractions. Still, this is the equivalent of putting a bandage on a deep cut that needs stitches. All you’re doing is covering the wound up, not helping it heal.
Instead, focus on providing your body and mind with the resources to manage your stress. It’s impossible to eliminate suffering from your life. So, learn how to deal with this suffering rather than masking it.
6.) Get Into Nature (and Away from Technology)
Spending time in nature is a healing balm. Unfortunately, as technology has proliferated, nature’s healing power is something many of us take for granted. Studies suggest we function best when we have access to and connection with nature.
Additionally, research from the University of Washington found exposure to nature boosted cognitive function and mental health. That’s why it’s vital to spend time in and connect with the natural world around you. And part of spending time in nature means getting away from screens and blue light.
Getting away from blue light is necessary to maintain positive mental health, as it can suppress melatonin. Different studies have demonstrated that blue light can also negatively affect sleep and your natural circadian rhythms. Because of this negative impact, too much screen time can adversely impact your physical, emotional, and cognitive health.
7.) Work on Your Sense of Optimism
A powerful tool to help improve your resilience is active optimism. Active optimism is a mindset and actions taken to boost the odds that things will turn out well. Note that active optimism is quite different from passive optimism, hoping things will turn out well.
8.) Practice Positive Self-Talk
Practicing positive self-talk is another invaluable tool to help you become more resilient. But this self-talk is often reduced to “thinking positively.” In reality, though, you need to talk to yourself differently depending on the context. For example, the self-talk you need for performing at work may sound something like “I am capable,” or “I am focused and prepared.”
The self-talk you need for personal issues, like a divorce or a death, may sound something like, “I am strong,” or “I am loved.” Adapting your self-talk to fit the situation helps you motivate and support yourself for whatever life throws your way.
9.) Take Responsibility
When something negative happens in your life, it places you at a crossroads. You can choose to be the victor, the victim, or the villain. You can play someone courageous, someone who gives up, or someone hateful. This mental exercise can help you realize, no matter the problem, you always have a choice.
Yes, it’s often harder to choose to be the victor. Giving up or giving into hate is easy. Conversely, choosing bravery is usually difficult. But the path of most resistance also delivers the most rewards. Remember, your life is yours and yours alone. You decide what defines you and whether bad things destroy you or serve as fuel to help build yourself back up.
10.) Reframe Mistakes/Failures
As stated at the top, you will fail. It’s not a matter of if, but when and how often. Still, remember we all fail. It’s a part of being human. What determines your resilience is how you bounce back from these mistakes. By reminding yourself of how you’ve found strength in your past, you can learn how to respond to new difficult situations or errors effectively.
Plus, reframing and learning from failures is also vital to active optimism and positive self-talk. So, when working though the curve balls life throws at you, ask yourself these questions:
— How can this make me stronger or help me grow?
— How can this make me more forgiving?
— What can I learn from this?
11.) Talk to a Professional
Admitting you need help isn’t a sign of weakness. Neither is it an indication of your lack of resilience. Seeking help when you need it is pivotal to building your resilience. The strategies above can help you make you more resilient. But everyone is different and has different needs.
And even if they help you for a while, there may come a time when you feel stuck or less resilient than usual. A licensed mental health professional can help you develop a strategy to move forward and make you more resilient.
Our team of licensed experts can help you build your resilience and unpack what may be inhibiting your progress toward resilience. Plus, at Compassionate Minds Therapy, we work with each of our patients to create an individualized treatment plan that works best for you at a time that’s most convenient for you.
So, if you’re ready to become more resilient, or want help with any other mental health issue, contact a Compassionate Minds therapist today.