Learning How to Build Resilience

Lately, the world seems to be going from one crisis to another. We are experiencing a global pandemic, changes in the ways we’ve been living our daily lives, economic uncertainty, political and social turmoil and natural disasters. 

But no matter what we are facing — building resilience can help us cope with stress, overcome adversity and enjoy the better days to come.

But how do we build resilience?

Here are Two Definitions of Resilience:

  • The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
  • The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

So How Do We Spring Back into Shape and Recover From Difficulties?

Without being aware of it, I’ve had to build resilience since I was a little girl. First, my parents were holocaust survivors and were role models for me after going through horrific life experiences as teenagers.

They were also set in their ways. It was either their way or no way. When I was a little girl and played the accordion for about three years, I wanted to start playing piano. My mother said, “You started with the accordion, and you have to continue what you start.”

When I wanted to move away to college, my parents told me they wouldn’t help me financially unless I lived at home. I was an only child and an independent thinker, so off I went to live in Berkley in 1969 and attended Merritt City College in Oakland where the black panthers had their headquarters. I was also active in the anti-war protests.

It was a fantastic experience of independence, but my parents didn’t agree or help me and I was very angry at them for some time. I worked part time in the English department at my college and supported myself while living with my cousin and several others – and had some great experiences. I then traveled through Europe with a friend and lived in Israel on a kibbutz for a year.

Later I married and had two small children. But the marriage was very difficult and after 12 years finally had the courage to leave my husband, but had no backing from my mother because she didn’t agree that I should leave him. 

What I didn’t know is that over the years, facing challenging times again and again, I learned to build resilience. If I hadn’t gone through the difficulties and challenges of my early life, I couldn’t have built resilience to face the challenges that were to come.  My early life prepared me for a more positive future – leaving my husband, starting a new business, and supporting my children with very little child support.

Thank You, Resiliency!

I’ve now been with my soul mate for more than 31 years, and that resilience I learned is constantly with me, and has helped me throughout my life. Most recently, it helped me four years ago when I had a bad accident and sustained three fractures to my pelvis, and this past December with a total hip replacement. Thank you, resiliency! I am very grateful for you.

Ted Talk with Lucy Hone, Resilience Researcher

I also want to mention that I watched a TED talk recently with Lucy Hone, a woman from New Zealand whose job it was to do research on resilience.  She described her life as perfect until her 12-year-old daughter and her daughter’s friend were killed instantly in a car accident. She went through the very difficult stages of grief – and when that dark period was over, she came up with three strategies of resilience that aided Lucy in her darkest days that I want to share with you:

1. People who accept suffering as a part of life have an easier time being resilient.

2. Resilient people have worked out a way to tune into their good thoughts.  Make an intentional, deliberate ongoing effort to look for what is good in the world and in your life. One powerful way to learn to do this is to write down what you are grateful for.

3. Questions that have helped her when her thoughts go off track: “Is what I’m thinking harming me, or helping me? Do I really need that thought?” This strategy is readily available to you anytime or anywhere. It gives you control in your decision making.

Do You Need Help Building Resilience in Your Life?

If you are interested in learning to be resilient and to make positive changes in your life contact me for a free 30-minute consultation at https://belacoaching.com/contact/. I offer a sliding scale fee that will fit any budget.

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