BLOG_2020_12_03_Bounce Back: Developing Emotional Resilience

Bounce Back: Developing Emotional Resilience


Major disruptions are a “gotcha” we all experience at one time or another in our lives. We get fired, laid off or passed over; a loved one dies, leaves or gets in trouble; a project stalls or gets cancelled; a business fails. The list, unfortunately, can be endless. And in 2020 many of these types of events could have happened at the same time making the situation so much worse.

For some, the impact of these hard times is overwhelming. Recovery, if it comes at all, can be painfully slow. Others show resilience and are admirably able to glide through these hard times fairly easily, bouncing back to a normal life quickly. So why is it some people struggle and fall flat, while others bounce?

Resilience — the strength required to adapt to change—acts as our internal compass to resourcefully navigate an upset. When unexpected events turn life upside down, it’s the degree to which our resiliency comes into play that makes these “make-or-break” situations an opportunity for growth. The good news is that each of us has the capacity to reorganize our life after a disruption and to achieve new levels of strength and meaningfulness.

Though it’s easy to feel vulnerable in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, life disruptions are not necessarily a bad thing. They help us grow and meet future challenges in our lives. It’s a lot like a bone once fragile or broken that is now strong from being repetitively used. Our challenges do make us stronger and better.

So how can you become more resilient?

Here’s a look at Seven Key Characteristics of people who demonstrate resilience during life’s ups and downs:

1. A Sense of Hope and Trust in the World

Resilient people rely on their belief in the basic goodness of the world and trust things will turn out all right in the end. This positive attitude allows them to weather times when everything seems bleak and to look for and accept the support that is out there. This approach toward the world gives them the ability to hope for a better future.  Hope is a very powerful tool to combat feelings of helplessness.

2. Interpreting Experiences in a New Light

The ability to look at a situation in a new way (a skill called “reframing”) can minimize the impact of a difficult situation. Resilient people take a creative approach toward solving a problem, and don’t always use an old definition for a new challenge.  One of the most powerful questions in times like these is, “How is this an opportunity to change my life into something better and more fulfilling?”

3. A Meaningful System of Support

One of the best ways to endure a crisis is to have the support of another person who can listen and validate your feelings. Knowing others care and will come to our support decreases the feeling of isolation, especially when tackling a problem alone. It’s important to choose people you trust. Don’t be surprised if it takes several friends, each of whom can provide different kinds of support. Resilient people aren’t stoic loners. They know it is dangerous to become isolated.  They recognize the value of expressing their fears and frustrations, as well as receiving support, coaching or guidance from friends, family or a professional.

4. A Sense of Mastery and Control Over Your Destiny

You may not be able to predict the future, but you can tackle a problem instead of feeling at the mercy of forces outside of your control. Resilient people know that ultimately their survival and the integrity of their life values depend on their ability to take action rather than remain passive. Tough times call for you to tap into your own sense of personal responsibility.  By taking action, you can determine what your “new life” will look like.  And you can only correct something when you are in motion. So, take action – any action.

5. Self-Reflection and Insight

Life’s experiences provide fertile ground for learning. Asking yourself questions that invite introspection can open a door to new understanding and appreciation of who you are and what you stand for. Giving voice to your thoughts and feelings leads to insight and helps transform the meaning of a problem into something useful. Resilient people learn from life situations and do not succumb to punishing themselves because of decisions made in the past.  Resilient people don’t look at mistakes as failures but as learning experiences to do it better next time.  After all, FAIL just means First Attempt In Learning!

6. A Wide Range of Interests

People who show resilience in the face of adversity are those who have a diversity of interests. They’re open to new experiences and ideas. Because their lives are rich and varied, it’s easier for them to find distraction and relief from the single mindedness and worry that often accompany a crisis, especially when you have all your eggs in one basket.

7. Sense of Humor

Have you ever had a wry laugh during a difficult situation? I find there is nothing better than when I can laugh at myself for having done something ridiculous. The ability to see the absurdity, irony, or genuine humor in a situation stimulates our sense of hope and possibility. Humor has both psychological and physical benefits in relieving stress because it encourages a swift change in your perception of your circumstances—and when your thoughts change, your mood follows. This is why resilient people pay attention to their mindset, knowing they are in control of their thoughts and emotions. They ask the question, “How do I want to feel?”

Tip: When you look to improve these seven areas now—rather than when adversity pays a visit—you’ll be able to bounce back more quickly when it does hit.


Over the next few weeks, focus on the areas above to see how you can become more resilient.  You can increase your resilience even more, by building a community of like-minded people who can support you.

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