Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on April 22, 2020

17 Ways for Building Resilience and Staying Tough

17 Ways for Building Resilience and Staying Tough

Have you ever failed at something or gone through a rough patch? Have you made a mistake or suffered a setback and found yourself eating way too much ice cream afterward?

Take heart! You’re in good company.

Even Beyoncé and Albert Einstein have faced hard times. But the difference between people who rebound from difficult situations and folks who stay curled up in a fetal position is the way they CHOOSE to respond to these events.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “resiliency” as the “ability to recover from or adjust easily to adversity or change.” The good news is, you can learn how to become more resilient. Yes, you can make the CHOICE to bounce back from bottom.

So, put down that ice-cream carton and get ready for a pep talk. Here are 17 strategies for building resilience that will help you overcome obstacles and rock your life.

1. Failing is Normal—Just Keep Going

According to Kenneth Ginsburg, author of Building Resilience in Children and Teens, the first of the “7 C’s of Resilience” is “COMPETENCE.” For young people to succeed, they must develop skills to deal with difficult situations. This goes for adults, too!

To bolster your competence, take a look at a learning curve. It shows you that you can improve after you fail simply by persevering. But your performance won’t improve steadily. Knowing this fun fact can prevent you from giving up too soon.

If you take a closer look at the “curve” below, you’ll discover that it’s actually jagged. Those peaks and valleys mean that you’ll get better on some days, as promised, but you’ll also have days in which you hit a plateau or your performance plummets.

    So, give yourself some slack and hang in there. If you persist, you will succeed.

    2. Adopt a “Growth Mindset” to Build Confidence

    Ginsburg’s second “C” for building resilience is “CONFIDENCE,” the belief in one’s own abilities. Here’s an interesting fact. It turns out that the way you view your abilities is more important than your actual abilities. Let me give you an example

    According to psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck, praising yourself for being intelligent or telling your children they are smart encourages a “fixed mindset,” the belief that your ability is static.[1] When you fail a test, you feel defeated because you believe your set amount of intelligence wasn’t enough to succeed.

    On the other hand, praising effort and hard work cultivates a “growth mindset,” the belief that intelligence can be developed. When you do badly on an exam and believe you can get smarter, you view it as a challenge. You put in extra time and effort and do better the next time.

    Whether it be sports, parenting, business, or pretty much anything else, your capacity to get back up after being knocked down depends on your mindset. To learn how to shift toward a more growthful mindset, take a look at this article: 5 Ways to Cultivate a Growth Mindset for Self Improvement

    Advertising

    When you understand that you can strengthen your abilities through effort, you will do better in work, school, and life over time.

    3. Use Failure as Feedback

    Did you know that Oprah Winfrey was demoted early in her career as a news anchor because she did not have the “it factor” for TV? She went on to reinvent her career and rule daytime talk shows for 25 years. She told Harvard’s 2013 graduating class,

    “There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”

    Perhaps your talk didn’t go over as well as you’d hoped because you gave it to the wrong audience. Maybe your last relationship didn’t work out because your ex was not a good match for you. A square peg won’t fit into a round hole no matter how hard you try to force it and you’ll wear yourself out in the process. What’s the point? Find a square hole!

    As Zig Ziglar says,

    “The most successful people are the ones who learn from their mistakes and turn their failures into opportunities.”

    4. Come Up with Alternate Pathways to Your Goals

    When you suffer a setback, don’t throw in the towel. Come up with a different plan to get where you want to go.

    For example, I decided to become a rock star when I was 30 years old. Even though my music was well-received, an A&R agent in LA told me I was too old to make it in the music business. So, I shifted my attention to launching a CD overseas and got signed to PolyGram in South Africa.

    Research by Dave Feldman and Diane Dreher on “hope interventions”[2] found that when people set a goal, visualized three steps to get there, imagined three obstacles that could get in the way, and then developed three strategies to overcome them, they were successfully able to solve problems in their lives and reach their goals.

    Set up a meaningful goal and come up with alternate routes to reach it in case you hit a roadblock. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

    5. Develop Your Superpowers

    You were born with unique set of gifts that no one else in the world has. Making a commitment to develop your natural superpowers through study, discipline, and practice can boost your competence and confidence. It may seem like it would be hard work but it’s actually fun. Nothing feels better than getting better at something you love to do.

    Jimi Hendrix practiced his guitar ALL the time. He wore it when he boarded planes and made scrambled eggs. He became a master guitarist because he constantly sought to boost his intrinsic talent. I’ve recorded hundreds of songs but I still take songwriting lessons to hone my skills as a singer-songwriter.

    Find some YouTube videos, buy a book, or take classes to improve your skills. Even if you only do it as a hobby or a side project, developing your innate skills gives you the energy and expertise you need to overcome challenges in your life.

    6. Find a Supportive Tribe

    Ginsburg’s third “C” for building resilience is “CONNECTION.” He encourages parents to offer children and teens the security they need to stand on their own and come up with creative solutions to problems. Adults need positive encouragement and community, too.

    Advertising

    It’s not a sign of weakness to seek support. Even the mighty Avengers (Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, etc.) join forces when threats grow too large for any one of them to handle alone. Dorothy Gale achieved greatness in The Wizard of Oz because of a little help from her friends The Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion.

    Surround yourself with like-minded friends and acquaintances who can keep you on track with your goals. Find an accountability partner and check in with each other once a week. Be sure to form connections with “power-with” people, those who find their power from within themselves and enjoy aiding each other’s journeys.

    The next time life knocks you down, put out the bat signal for your tribe to come help you. They’ll help you rebound faster and own your power.

    7. Remove Kryptonite From Your Life

    As important as it is to surround yourself with a positive tribe, it’s also essential that you distance yourself from people who rain on your parade.

    If you have naysayers in your life, realize that this “power-over” mentality is a sign of inadequacy, not a show of real strength. There’s no need for people to aggravate, torment, or control you if their sense of self is intact. When people try to kryptonite you, it’s a sign of their weakness, not yours.

    To protect yourself from people who try to belittle or manipulate you, learn how to discriminate between helpful information and controlling criticism. The former fills you with energy and gives you a sense of direction; the latter leaves you feeling defeated and drained. Consider the source.

    8. Set Good Intentions

    Ginsburg’s fourth “C” for building resilience is “CHARACTER,” it’s about learning right from wrong.

    Superheroes use their power to save the planet. Super-villains often possess superhuman strengths, too, but they wield them for personal gain. Which camp do you fall in? Does it depend on what you’re doing?

    Create a list of your values and stand by them no matter what. Being true to yourself and living with integrity will help you get through hard times.

    9. Practice Kindness

    The fifth “C” for building resilience is “CONTRIBUTING” to the welfare of others. The tiniest act of kindness can make a positive difference.

    According to Talya Steinberg, Psy.D,[3]

    “Studies show that receiving, giving, or even witnessing acts of kindness increases the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood in the brain.”

    Being kind makes you feel happier and more at peace, which helps you stay grounded in difficult situations.

    What little act of kindness can you do today? Give your loved ones an extra hug? Call or email a long-lost friend? Here’re more ideas for you: 29 Ways to Carry Out Random Acts of Kindness Every Day

    Advertising

    And be sure to high-five yourself the next time you see your reflection in the mirror. Being kind to yourself counts.

    10. Listen to Music You Like

    The fifth “C” for building resilience is using COPING strategies to deal with stress. One easy shortcut for buoying yourself up when you feel down is listening to music you like.

    Research shows that hearing your favorite music releases dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter. When you’re happy, you organize information better, think more creatively, and become a better problem solver.

    I like to sing “Roar” to give me moxie. What about you? All you need is 15 minutes of your favorite tunes. So listen up!

    11. Give Yourself a Hug

    Another quick way to build resilience when you feel badly is to give yourself a hug. Sounds silly? It’s not.

    According to Dr. Kristin Neff, author of Self-Compassion, hugging yourself releases oxytocin (the love hormone that makes you feel safe and loved) which decreases stress.[4]

    The next time you’re challenged, give it a try. Even if you’re in public, you can discreetly fold your arms around yourself. You’ll be surprised by how much better you feel.

    12. Say Positive Affirmations

    When you mess something up, your inner critic often makes it worse by telling you that you’re not good enough or you’re an imposter. Just because these digs stress you out doesn’t mean the limiting thoughts are true.

    Research shows that saying positive things such as “keep going” and “you can do it” can replace negative self-talk and help you get on your feet again.[5]

    Need some ideas for positive affirmations? Here’re some: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life

    13. Relabel “Fear” as “Excitement”

    When something scares you, your sympathetic nervous system gets you ready for fight or flight. Did you know that you experience the same physiological reactions when you’re excited?

    The next time you get sweaty palms, try reinterpreting that response as excitement and use that nervous energy to master whatever you’re trying to do, whether it be giving a talk, going on a job interview, or winning a race.

    The fact that your inner critic is messing with your mind could mean that you’re on the brink of a new growth opportunity. Take advantage of the adrenaline and go for it.

    14. Stand in the Wonder Woman / Superman Pose

    According to Amy Cuddy, best-selling author of Presence, adopting the Wonder Woman power pose — hands on hips, feet wide apart, shoulders back — for two minutes can make you feel powerful.

    Advertising

    This postural feedback gives you the experience of being a laid-back alpha (i.e., a superhero). When you need a jolt of power, try it. It works! If you’re a guy, just pretend you’re Superman or Thor when you do it.

    You can learn more about the power of this pose in this TedTalk:

    15. Write about Tough Times

    The last thing you probably feel like doing after a painful experience is dwell on it, but research by Dr. James Pennebaker shows that writing about tough times can actually improve your psychological and physical well-being.[6]

    Jot down your thoughts and feelings about the emotionally charged event for 20 minutes per day for four consecutive days. Afterward, you will feel mentally and physically stronger.

    16. Stop Passing Judgment on Yourself

    The final “C” for building resilience is to learn how to feel a sense of CONTROL over your life. The Serenity Prayer wisely advises us to accept what we cannot change, change what we can, and learn to tell the difference. But let’s be honest. That last part can get tricky.

    Eating balanced meals, exercising, and getting enough sleep helps you bounce back from tough times. But what if you have a bad habit that prevents you from engaging in these healthy habits? Here’s a tip a wise woman gave me years ago that can help you break the pattern:

    Imagine for a moment that each time you eat that extra cookie, or drink that extra glass of wine, or stay up too late watching TV, a layer gets laid down in an imaginary bowl. Every time you repeat the pattern, another layer goes down and the layers stack up over time.

    To get unstuck, just observe yourself eating that extra cookie instead of judging yourself for it. At the same time, imagine that a layer gets removed from that make-believe bowl as a result. If you engage in the bad habit again, do not pass judgment. Watch yourself with compassion and see another layer come off in your mind’s eye.

    Over time, this metaphorical bowl grows emptier and you begin to catch yourself sooner in the process (e.g., when you first put your hand in the cookie jar). Eventually, you’ll be able to stop yourself before you even begin. This gentle mindfulness tool can help you change habits that seem beyond your control.

    17. Set Yourself Up for Success

    My friend Mike enjoys skiing really fast, to the point where he is about to break his neck, because it puts him in the moment and brings out his best performance. If he were to try a steeper slope, he would fall; the bunny slopes would bore him silly. Like Goldilocks, he found the hill that was “just right“ to put him in the zone.

    What does this last point have to do with building resilience? When you’re in the zone, you do your best work. If the activity is too simple, your mind wanders. If it’s too hard, you get knocked out of the moment, too. These are the critical moments when your inner critic sneaks in to fire zingers at you.

    To create a successful outcome, consciously choose to do things that are fairly challenging, but not too challenging. This Goldilocks approach will keep your inner critic at bay and bring out the best in you. When you succeed in one area of your life, you’re more likely to succeed in others.

    Final Thoughts

    We all experience defeat at some point; it’s part of being human. But you have a CHOICE about how to react to hardship. If you CHOOSE to learn from your mistakes and persevere with a growth mindset, you can succeed at pretty much anything, especially if you come up with alternative pathways to your goals and surround yourself with people who believe in you.

    When you feel overwhelmed or stressed out, write about it, listen to your favorite tunes, give yourself a hug, say positive affirmations to yourself, relabel fear as excitement, or stand in the Wonder Woman/Superman pose.

    Just a couple of these hacks can help you get your mojo back. Just remember to keep going. You’ve got this.

    More About Resilience

    Featured photo credit: Michael Descharles via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Dr. Michelle Millis Chappel

    Michelle is a psychology-professor-turned-rock-star who has helped thousands of people create successful meaningful lives by using their superpowers.

    17 Ways for Building Resilience and Staying Tough How to Become Goal Oriented and Achieve More in Life Scientists Find 15 Amazing Benefits Of Listening To Music Feeling Like It Might Be Too Late To Pursue Your Dreams? Think Again compassion Showing Compassion For Animals Can Improve Your Health, Research Says

    Trending in Mental Strength

    1 How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today 2 How to Not Take Things Personally for a Happier Life 3 How to Stop Being Passive and Start Getting What You Want 4 How to Fight Your Irrational Fears And Stay Strong 5 Feeling Frustrated in Life? 8 Ways to Get Back on Track

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today

    How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today

    As human beings, one of our deepest-rooted desires is to have a meaningful and happy existence. You’ve probably heard of the saying, “Live your best life.” It’s good advice.

    We all want to feel connected to both ourselves and others. We want to feel that we’re part of something important and that we’re making a difference in the world.

    We want to look back at our lives and our achievements and be proud. In short, we want what the saying says: to live our best lives.

    But what does it really mean to live your best life?

    You are a unique individual, so living your best life is exclusive to you. Your best life will reflect your true values. It will be made up of what makes you happy and will be colored by what making a difference means to you.

    What Stops You From Living Your Best Life?

    While living your best life is all about you, what other people think can have an impact on your quest to live your best life.

    Social media, for example, puts us under a lot of pressure. There are specific expectations of what “happy” looks like, and we’re under pressure to conform to what society expects.

    For example, we are pressured to look a certain way, wear the “right” clothes, have exciting adventures with eye-catching friends, eat ethical and healthy food, and do charity work.

    These are only a few of society’s expectations. It’s a long list.

    Social media claims to connect us, but often it can do the opposite.

    We can spend so much time worrying about what other people are doing, trying to live the life that society expects of us, that it can be easy to lose track of what makes us happy and what our best life actually looks like.

    Start the Journey

    What does it look like to live your best life? The following are some practical tips and tools to move from living your current life to living your best life.

    1. Be the Best Version of Yourself

    To live your best life, you must be the best version of yourself. Don’t try to be something or someone else. Don’t try to be what other people want you to be.

    Focus on who you want to be. Play to your strengths and be proud of what makes you different. You are brilliant.

    Gretchen Rubin, in her book Happiness Project, created her own commandments. The first one was “Be Gretchen.” This gave her permission to follow her gut feeling and make up her own rules.

    For example, she stopped forcing herself to enjoy parties, cocktails, and fashion just because that’s what she thought society expected.

    So, inspired by Gretchen, create your own commandment: “Be more YOU,” and remind yourself of this every day, unapologetically.

    Advertising

    2. Observe Yourself

    To work out what the best you looks like, you must get to know yourself better. It’s your best life after all – not anyone else’s.

    Start to notice how you respond to various situations. What are your habits? What makes you happy? What frustrates you? How do you behave under pressure? What gives you energy? What drains you?

    Spend a week simply noticing. Write your observations down so you remember.

    3. Identify Your Bad Habits

    As part of your observations, start to notice your bad habits. Consider the things that don’t ultimately make you feel good.

    Does scrolling mindlessly through Instagram make you happy? For 5 minutes, perhaps, but for longer?

    That last glass of wine was delicious, but do you pay the price later?

    That chocolate was enjoyable at the moment, but now that the sugar high is over, are you feeling regretful?

    Observe yourself first. Then, start to deliberately do more of the things that make you happy and give you energy.

    At the same time, work on reducing then eliminating the habits that squander your time, drain your energy, and ultimately don’t make you happy.

    Need help conquering your bad habits? Read How to Break Bad Habits Once and For All.

    4. Set Intentions

    After having thought about what makes you happy and what drains your energy, focus on what living the best life looks like for you.

    One of the keys to this is being intentional about it. When you deliberately set intentions, you are more likely to act with purpose and drive.

    Setting intentions is different from setting goals. Goals are your list of things you want to achieve. You can set them daily, monthly, yearly, or a combination.

    A common practice is to define goals and write them down. This makes them more tangible and makes you more accountable, therefore, making the goals more likely to happen.

    The subtle yet important difference between goals and intentions is that when setting intentions, you decide what kind of positive feelings and emotions you are seeking.

    For example, “This week, my intention is to approach my admin tasks with gusto in order to complete them more quickly.”

    Intentions can be more motivating than goals because if you don’t achieve your goal, it can feel like a failure and can ultimately hold you back.

    Advertising

    If you don’t achieve your intention to approach something in a specific way, you can more easily regroup and have another try.

    Write down your intentions every month, week, or day, using whichever time frame works best for you.

    For example, “I intend to enjoy going swimming three times this week” or “I intend to assertively build my network in my local area this month.”

    Setting intentions gives you something to focus on, and it also helps to manage the feeling of being overwhelmed that often happens when we set ourselves goals.

    5. Visualize Living Your Best Life

    Visualization can help you to cement your intentions. It involves visualizing how it would feel to live your best life once you achieve it.

    It can help you to further establish what you want and allow you to settle into a positive mindset.

    To visualize, first choose your focus. Choose a specific intention and how you will feel once it is accomplished. Then, take the time to daydream and allow your imagination to wander.

    For example, if your intention is going swimming three times a week, imagine what you will look and feel like:

    • What will you wear?
    • How do you get there?
    • What time of day do you go?
    • How do you feel when you’re in the water?
    • How do you feel afterward?

    Ask yourself these little questions and allow yourself to feel the same feelings you would feel if you were currently fulfilling your intention.

    10 Ways to Live Your Best Life

    Now that you’ve decided and visualized what your best life looks like, let’s look at some more practical steps you can take to achieve it.

    1. Focus

    Whatever you do, focus. If you swim, swim. If you study, study. Multitasking is a myth. It’s not possible to do more than one thing at a time well. Focused work is the least tiresome and the most productive type of work.

    Michael LeBouf, the author of The Millionaire in You, said,

    “Winners focus, losers spray.”

    2. Take Responsibility for Taking Action

    Taking action can feel scary. We fear failure, but we can also fear success. It can be easy to feel too busy to achieve your intentions.

    However, you have the choice to take action and live your best life or stay the same. It’s up to you, so take responsibility to take action.

    3. Live in the Present

    Every day is a new opportunity to live your best life. We so often get stuck because we put things off.

    We can think, “When I’ve lost 10 lbs I’ll go swimming,” or “When I feel more confident I’ll look for a new job,” or “When I get my new running shoes I’ll start running.”

    Advertising

    How about starting from where you are? How about using what you already have?

    We often put off taking action until we have the newest phone/camera/game/course/book/shoes as if they are the keys to happiness. In the process, we forget about what we already have.

    Grab the camera that you have, put on your old running shoes. Go and do something interesting today with what you’ve got. Fancier gadgets, better clothes, or a slimmer body won’t make you better.

    Action will.

    4. Declutter

    This applies to the environment you live in as well as the people you spend time with. Use Marie Kondo’s decluttering method of asking, “Does it bring you joy?”[1]

    If your answer is yes, you keep the item. If you hesitate or say no, you donate it or throw it out. Simple.

    This also applies to people. If there are people in your life that make you feel bad, drain your energy, and don’t bring you joy, let go of them.

    Instead, spend time with the people and activities that give you energy and make you feel good.

    5. Relish the Simple Things

    When we’re busy, we can forget to appreciate what we have. Take time to focus on the simple things. Even when you’re feeling low, there’s always something to be grateful for.

    In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.[2] Be deliberate in being grateful for what you do have, rather than resentful of what you don’t.

    6. Journaling

    Journaling

    is simply writing your thoughts down.

    According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, writing your thoughts and feelings down on paper not only helps you get your thoughts in order, but it can also help ease symptoms of depression and manage stress and anxiety.[3]

    In the chaos of life, it is easy to overthink, feel anxious, or not appreciate what you do have. Journaling can help you manage your thoughts and feelings and productively cope with life.

    Be curious and keep learning. Ask more questions and keep pushing yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and learn.

    What are you interested in or curious about? Perhaps it’s learning more about where you live, or reading up on a particular topic? Maybe it’s traveling to a new town or country?

    According to Dan Pink’s research, learning is a key motivator.[4] Whether you feel like you’ve gotten stuck in a boring routine or you’re stressed by the tasks of daily life, learning something new is a way to step outside yourself and your comfort zone.

    Advertising

    Create a bucket list of all the things you’d like to do and learn and the places you’d like to go to, and start ticking them off.

    7. Make Someone’s Day

    Being kind to others makes them feel good, and it also releases chemicals in your body that make you feel good. Think about a time you gave someone a gift that they loved. How did you feel?

    You don’t have to start giving people gifts to make someone’s day. Think about small, thoughtful gestures: a genuine compliment, opening the door, offering to help someone.

    All these things can make a big difference in someone’s day.

    8. Look After Your Body

    Eat what nourishes you, including plenty of vegetables and fruit and food that’s natural and unprocessed. Drink plenty of water.

    Exercise because you like it, not because you’re supposed to go to the gym.

    Reject the idea that you have to push yourself really hard at exercise, and instead try out a variety of things – for example, walking the dog, gardening, yoga, swimming, or dancing.

    Find what you enjoy. When you enjoy something, you’ll be motivated to do it more.

    Get good rest! We’re all different in terms of the amount of sleep that we need. However, most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep.

    If you’re not getting that much, then check out healthy sleep tips from the Sleep Foundation.[5]

    More tips for staying healthy: Powerful Daily Routine Examples for a Healthy and High-Achieving You.

    9. Manage Your Inner Critic

    Most people have an inner critic that tells them they are not good enough, that they’re a fraud, and that they are going to be found out.

    This happens especially when we step out of our comfort zone and change things. If you are living your best life, your inner critic likes to jeopardize that.

    The next time it appears, acknowledge what’s happening and call it out. Whatever it is telling you, list all the reasons it’s wrong.

    10. Be Prepared to Change the Plan

    You may have set intentions to live your best life. However, life is not linear, nor does it work in lists. You must expect to be flexible and change the plan as life throws things at you.

    The end game remains the same: to live your best life. It’s just the route to get there that will inevitably change.

    Conclusion

    Live each day like it counts, and remember, it’s your choice. Your best life is unique to you. Don’t compare yourself to others – focus on living your best life, and enjoy the learning, exploration, and experiences along the way.

    More Tips on How You Can Live Your Best Life

    Featured photo credit: Juliana Malta via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Kon Mari: Tidy your space, transform your life
    [2] Harvard Health Publishing: In Praise of Gratitude
    [3] University of Rochester Medical Center: Journaling for Mental Health
    [4] Daniel H. Pink: Dan Pink on Motivation
    [5] Sleep Foundation: Healthy Sleep Tips

    Read Next