How to develop resilience

Photo by Ronald Cuyan on

Photo by Ronald Cuyan on

Resilience is talked about in terms of people getting through challenges and tough times. It has become a popular term used in development programs. Do people organically develop resilience through experience and their handling of it? Or, is it something you can learn? I attended The Resilience Summit to find out.

What is resilience?
According to Rick Hanson, host of The Resilience Summit, resilience is

 … the capacity to manage challenge and to recover from adversity

Resilience is what helps us survive the hard things in life. However, it is also what helps us flourish in life. It is suggested that resilience is a foundation of sustained happiness and well-being. 

Hanson suggests that resilience comes from the development of psychological capabilities or competencies. You might think of them as your own internal resources or inner strengths. These include:

  • grit
  • gratitude
  • compassion
  • confidence
  • know-how eg how to relate to others, how to relate to your own thoughts and feelings

How are resilience competencies developed?
Resilience and its competencies are learned. This learning occurs when things happen and you respond to them. To consolidate that learning, is to be aware of the link between what happens and how you respond to them.

It is suggested that if we have the presence of mind to “take stock” and be mindfully aware of what is happening in everyday life, this helps to integrate useful thoughts, ideas and sensations into our central nervous system. In practical terms, it  means slowing down to notice, to be aware of the impact of something on your mind and body. It means taking a breath and tuning in to what is happening within yourself.

You don’t need bad experiences to be able to develop resilience. You can develop the competencies by developing greater awareness of your response to things that happen – and assessing their effectiveness. We all learn a lot more from making mistakes than not, but we don’t need that experience all the time.

Good judgement comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgement
~ Will Rogers

Practical ways to develop resilience
Here are some tips offered throughout the summit, that help to develop awareness and inner strength.

  •  Make time each day to be aware of what wears you down physically and mentally. Notice what you can do to reduce those impacts.
  • Start and finish each day with a sense of calm strength. This sets the tone of the day at the start and helps to disengage from the day at the end, before bed.
  • Make moments for mindfulness. Notice what is happening around you and within you. Be present to this.
  • In times of difficulty, ask yourself – What is hard or where does it hurt. Counter this with what you could do to alleviate it.
  • If you feel tense, take a full breath and exhale audibly – like a sigh. Repeat it slowly. Notice the tension leaving your body with your breath.
  • Think of three things you are grateful for every day.
  • Make time to connect with others – say hello to your neighbours, send a thank you email to someone, call a friend to let them know you are thinking of them.

What do you think – can we learn to be resilient? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Source: The Resilience Summit

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