On Resilience

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Resilience is one of the things I admire most in others, and it is something that I continually work on in my own life. To me, resilience involves thoughts, emotions, and behavior. It consists of managing one’s thoughts, regulating one’s emotions, and behaving in life-affirming, values-oriented ways.

Many psychologists claim that we have no control over our thoughts and feelings, and that we can only ultimately choose our behavior. I think that this is only true to a certain extent. I believe that over time, we can retrain our brains - in effect reprogram our brains from ruminating and following certain predictable patterns of thoughts into adopting new ways of thinking. These new thoughts will invariably influence our moods. We can also regulate our emotions by letting them flow through us rather than resisting, suppressing, denying, or clinging onto them.

In my study, observations, and experience with resilience, I want to share 10 things that resilient people do regularly (because resilience is a practice and something that anybody can develop and sustain).

1. Challenge yourself every day.

Regardless of what they are working on, resilient people clearly define their objectives and corresponding actions steps and are persistent and consistent in their attempts to get there. These daily challenges enhance patience, self-responsibility/ accountability, and the ability to persist in the face of and not personalize obstacles.

2. Identify your emotions.

Resilient individuals do not mask, deny, repress, or numb their emotions in order to minimize their discomfort. They also do not treat their emotions as absolute truths and recognize the ways in which their emotions influence the way they think and behave.

3. Tolerate pain for a greater purpose.

Resilient people do not tolerate pain in order to prove anything to anybody or to see how much they can endure. Rather, they tolerate discomfort in service of their values, goals, and purpose.

4. Acknowledge your limitations.

Resilient people acknowledge, understand, and accept their emotions without feeling shame, inadequacy, or like victims. They know when and in what areas they need help and are not afraid to delegate tasks.

5. Reflect on your progress.

Resilient individuals spend time honestly reflecting upon their progress. They determine where they are doing well and pinpoint the changes they want to make.

6. Create your own definition of success.

Resilient individuals do not compare or compete with others. They work towards their own definition of success and being their own best selves. They are not distracted, knowing that everybody’s life journey is unique. They strive to improve upon themselves and do not gauge success based on others’ standards.

7. Reframe your negative thoughts.

Resilient individuals may have thoughts of self-doubt, catastrophic thinking, and self-judgement, but they acknowledge that these thoughts are not facts and do not let these thoughts overpower them. They “hold their thoughts lightly” and reframe their thoughts into more realistic statement, thereby helping to retrain their brains.

8. Use your mental energy wisely.

Resilient people understand and appreciate that time and energy are limited, and therefore they use these resources thoughtfully and judiciously. They don’t bother with worrying about things beyond their control or ruminating upon things that are in the past or that they cannot change. Rather, they empower themselves by using their mental energies on things that they can impact and things that will help them become their best selves and move towards their goals.

9. Sharpen your skills.

Resilient people know the value of mastery and are motivated by sharpening their skills rather than showing them off. They are willing to fail and keep trying and put in consistent, dedicated practice in order to improve.

10. Accept full responsibility for your life.

Resilient people do not make excuses for themselves. They seek to deeply know themselves and are clear about their values and priorities. They understand how their behavior affects themselves, others, and the outcomes in their lives. They are empowered in knowing that they are in charge of and responsible for how they choose to spend their time, with whom they spend their time, and how they want to show up in the world.

Which of these 10 practices resonated with you the most? Which one are you willing to take conscious steps towards integrating in your life? What other behaviors do you associate with resilience? Why is being resilient important to you?