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How to Build Your Resilience (One Step at a Time)

Read Time: 9 min
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Read Time: 9 min

Resilience is a quality that's much discussed, both in our personal lives and in the workplace. But what exactly is resilience, how do you know if you're resilient, and how do you develop that quality if you don't already have it. 

In this guide, you'll get the answers to all those questions so you can learn how to be more resilient when you most need it. 

What Is Resilience?

Our starting point in learning how to be resilient is determining what resilience is. One definition of resilience from the American Psychological Association says that resilience is the ability to adapt to difficult circumstances. In other words, the quality of being able to change your position and survive when challenging things happen.

Why Do We Need to be Resilient?

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You can learn how to be more resilient. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Here's why resilience is useful. Life is full of challenges. These may be small, like traffic delays at the wrong time, or large, like challenges affecting our financial security or health.

Whether in your personal life or business, challenges often happen when you're least expecting them. Learning how to build resilience is one good way to avoid the overwhelm and panic that can happen at challenging times.

Of course, that doesn't mean you should ignore the feelings and emotions that come up for you at these times but increasing your resilience can help you figure out what to do next or how to move forward.

What Aspects of Resilience Are Important?

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There are many aspects of resilience. (Image source: Envato Elements)

When thinking about resilience, there are several useful aspects of the quality that'll help you develop this quality. These include:

1. Recognize That Setbacks Are Temporary

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Remember that setbacks are often temporary. (Image source: Envato Elements)

When something challenging happens, we can sometimes feel like we'll always be in that state of stress. In building resilience, it's essential to recognize that setbacks are temporary. 

We don't exist in that state of challenge all the time, while there are always things that don't go according to plan, equally there are almost always workarounds. 

2. Be Committed to Your Goals

Commitment is another key aspect of resilience that'll help you at challenging times. When you've got clear goals or a firm purpose, you can move through challenges because you're focused on what you're trying to achieve. You may even find that challenges teach you something useful about yourself, which also helps to build resilience. 

3. Know What's Beyond Your Control

Another important aspect of resilience is recognizing and letting go of things that you can't control.  One of the best known versions of the Serenity Prayer urges us to accept the things we can't change, have the courage to change the things we can and have the wisdom to know the difference.

When we can separate those types of issues then it's easier to avoid beating ourselves up about things we really can't do anything about. Speaking of which…

4. Avoid the Self-Blame Game

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Don't be too hard on yourself. (Image source: Envato Elements)

You know what's not helpful? Negative self-talk. That's a surefire way to undermine your own resilience.

Personal accountability is one thing. Being down on yourself is another.

If you're spending too much time blaming yourself for the challenges you face, how much time is left to figure out what you need to do? Be kind to yourself and you'll be able to engage with the world from a place of strength rather than of challenge and overwhelm. 

5. Get Support

That doesn't mean it's wrong to have needs. Not at all. Having the support of friends, family, colleagues and bosses makes a huge difference to your capacity for resilience. If you don't feel alone, you're likely to be much more resilient. 

Test Your Resilience

Now you understand more about what resilience means, why not find out how resilient you are. This resilience test from Everyday Health will help you figure out whether you need to learn how to build resilience or whether you're already pretty darned resilient, thank you very much.

What Do Resilient People Look Like?

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What does resilience look like? (Image source: Envato Elements)

What do resilient people look like? According to CNN, people who show most resilience balance optimism with realism. They've the knowledge that things can be better, along with an acceptance of what the current situation is right now. They also have firm goals and are intelligent.

Most importantly, people who show resilience have good emotional intelligence. This means they can handle stress and challenges well. Some examples of resilience in people include:

  • Nelson Mandela, a political prisoner in apartheid South Africa who eventually became president of the country
  • Oprah Winfrey who survived an abusive childhood to become a popular global figure
  • Stephen Hawking, internationally renowned scientist, who was expected to die in his 20s yet lived to 76

How to Build Resilience

Wondering how to be more resilient? Here are some of the strategies you can use to build your own resilience.

1.Be Kind to Yourself

Treat yourself with compassion and kindness even if - especially if - you're struggling. Accept that it's normal for things not to go your way sometimes. Get more tips on building resilience in this article and video from TED.

2. Stay Positive

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A positive attitude helps build resilience. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Try to be positive and keep an optimistic frame of mind. That doesn't mean you should fall into toxic positivity, which is unrealistic. But if you can hold on to a thread of optimism, then you'll be starting to build up your resilience skills. 

3. Be Mindful

Mindfulness is another way that people build resilience. Start a mindfulness practice by meditating, by paying attention to and noticing what's happening around you. That'll help you in all aspects of your life, both at work and personally. Learn more in this article:

4. Take Breaks

Believe it or not, taking a break can be part of building resilience. Sometimes you just need to get away, and that's ok.

We're not always meant to be in fight or flight mode. We've got to take time to be in rest and repair mode as well. So, making time for relaxation will make you better able to cope when challenges come. 

5. Use Cognitive Restructuring

Cognitive restructuring means reframing how you think about things. Flipping that switch in your brain can help you deal with setbacks and build resilience. And the next tip gives one example of how to do that…

6. Reframe Challenges as Lessons

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See if you can learn from your challenges. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Mistakes happen. That's how we learn. Kids fall many times before they successfully stand on two feet or before they learn to walk. Challenges in life and work can be similar. 

I personally tend to ask what I'm meant to learn from a challenge. Even though it may not feel good at the time, focusing on the lesson in it and what I might do next can help a lot. Reframing challenges as learning opportunities can help you find the strength and courage to deal with them.

7. Know Your Moral Code and Purpose

If you know your values, ethics and what's important to you, then you've got a north star to guide you in the face of adversity. Plus, if you're living by your values and something goes wrong, the knowledge that you've stuck to your moral code brings some comfort.

Related to that, there's also comfort in knowing your purpose and goals, and taking action on those, even if things go wrong.

8. Take Time to Reflect

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Reflecting on your situation can help you face a challenge. (Image source: Envato Elements)

When things go wrong or present a challenge, it can be tempting to react instantly. One thing I always recommend in the groups I moderate is pausing to reflect before responding or reacting. That gives you time to process what's going on, and it's another way to build resilience.

9. Create a Personal Support Network

Earlier, I mentioned the importance of support in learning how to be more resilient. You've probably already got go-to people who can advocate for you, and whom you can bounce ideas off. You've likely also got people who can provide a shoulder to cry on when needed. 

Having these people in your life will make you better able to cope with challenges - sometimes a problem shared is a problem halved - and move on to whatever's next. And if your support network also includes people who are already resilient, that'll help too, as they'll be able to help you take a balanced view of the current situation.

10. Use Humor

Amazingly, laughter really is the best medicine, so humor can help you build up your resilience. If you can see the funny side of the challenge or setback you're facing - there won't always be a funny side, of course - then you'll find it easier to cope. 

Learn more here:

Share Resilience Tips in a Presentation

Want to share these tips on how to build with someone else? Or make a note of the values that you live by? Or inspire your team to cope better with challenges?

Create a compelling presentation or document with one of the hundreds of thousands of templates available on Envato Elements.

Explore Presentation Templates Now

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There are thousands of presentation templates on Envato Elements.

There are templates for graphics, presentations, documents, letters and much more. You can download as many as you want for one low price. 

Start to Build Your Resilience Today!

Now you've learned what resilience is, some of the key characteristics of resilient people, and how to find out if you're resilient. We've also shared several tips on how to be resilient so you can better cope with challenges and setbacks that arise in your personal or professional life.

Now, it's over to you to put them into practice in your own life. Good luck.

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