Do you know someone who seems able to face any hardship? Who embraces work or life challenges with a can-do attitude? That is resilience.
Resilient people experience hardships too. But their ability to persevere makes them stronger and happier in their personal lives. It makes them attractive for promotions, too. In entrepreneurial pursuits, they take on setbacks as challenges from which to learn, grow, and win.
The ability to bounce back from hardships and meet challenges isn’t unique to certain people. But it requires resilience training. Just as winners seem to keep winning, losing at something can create a self-defeating attitude. To break that cycle requires practice. Below, we’ve outlined some simple tools anyone can use to build emotional resilience and persevere.
Tools to Practice Mindfulness
Most importantly, you build resilience by practicing mindfulness. At its core, mindfulness is not difficult. It just seems that way because most of us don’t know what mindfulness really means.
Imagine a parent leaves her young son alone to run the family shop. “Mind the store while I’m away,” she says.
What did she mean by minding the store? Does she intend for her son to dwell over what might go wrong while she is away? To fret over a possible power outage or fire? Or does she mean remaining aware? That is, living in and responding to the moment?
Yes, planning and preparation are important. But wasting time worrying over possible negative outcomes occurs after the planning stage. Fretting over what you can’t control at the moment is the opposite of mindfulness. And it depletes your energy and resilience.
Real mindfulness can be learned. For some, that means taking time out for mediation. A morning workout, evening routines, nature walks, playing sports, and making better use of your weekends are ways to recharge and build resilience. Hobbies that require concentration such as painting or gardening also bring you back to the mindful moment.
None of these activities are mere distractions; pointless worrying is the real distraction. Find activities you enjoy that require your mental immediacy, and practice them daily to recenter and build resilience.
Try: The Calm App
Another tool for building resilience is reminding yourself what you are grateful for.
But it takes more than a quick mental inventory. Start by setting aside a full hour. Write a list of all you have going for you: your personal assets, people and things you feel grateful for. Spend time at it and go into detail. Practicing gratitude can have life-changing effects that build confidence and resilience.
After that initial exercise, take a few minutes each evening to write down what you are grateful for that day. Make it a routine. If it helps you, approach the practice as a journal or creative writing exercise. Whether you use pencil and paper or write an email to yourself, spell out the advantages you hold during any current challenge.
Harnessing Your Inner Voice
When we worry, we develop two selves. That is, we have an inner voice saying, But what if…? or You can’t…. Our second self listens to that voice. We accept the beratement as truth, but why? You wouldn’t let someone put down your best friend, sibling, or child this way.
So why do it to yourself?
Talk to yourself like someone you love. That means hushing that first inner voice the moment it starts doubting you. Tell it “Stop!” Say it out loud. The result may surprise you. Argue back at it. Tell it about the skills and resources you have to persevere. Tell it the challenges you can face and positives you can create. Train and discipline your inner voice as you would an unruly pet. Teach it to treat you with patience, kindness and optimism.
Stick with this practice. It took years to train your inner voice to treat you disrespectfully. Don’t expect to change it overnight, but it will change. And without that nagging inner voice, you will gain the confidence to persevere.
Try: The Kindness Journal
Saying ‘Yes’ and Taking Charge
Suppose you have lost a parent or received a promotion. Although these events exist at opposite extremes of negative or positive, they have something in common. Both situations create stress. Life has just changed. And you don’t know what to do about it. You don’t know if you have the strength to persevere.
When life hands you something you’re not sure you can handle… take on more.
Be the driver. For instance, parents who have lost children start foundations and awareness drives. Associates receiving promotions make changes even as they learn on the job. Perseverance means taking the wheel and doing something.
Yes, it’s a coping mechanism, and even a distraction. But it also serves as a means of taking control of an unpredictable situation. By saying yes and taking on more responsibility, you will learn that you can handle more than you knew. You will find strength and resilience. And you will replace energy-depleting fear with the leader inside of you.
Photo by @Polinaloves