Eight strategies to build your own resilience

How to build resilience | www.toiletsarentforturtles.com

Ever had that feeling of being punched in the guts by disappointment?

A little while ago I missed out on an opportunity that I hadn’t thought I was very interested in in the first place. But when I didn’t get it, the disappointment hit me physically – it took the wind out of my sails and made me feel quite sick to the stomach. It also made me start second guessing myself in a professional sense. That little voice in my head started whispering “not good enough, you’re just not good enough,” and I started to believe it. I allowed the sense of disappointment to fester and grow and take over any happy thought I had in my head. I felt ready to give up, to quit, to walk away and find something new.

It only lasted for a day, but that was a very long day of feeling pretty bloody awful, and reconsidering all of my options and wondering what else I should be doing instead.

I spend a lot of time trying to make sure I’m raising resilient kids, but what about me? How do I safeguard my own emotional resilience?

Turns out I am pretty resilient after all, and after a 24 hour pity party, I bounced back and looked at the situation with some perspective. When I analysed the situation with fresh eyes I realised that my disappointment wasn’t based on missing out on this particular opportunity, it was just based on missing out. I want what she’s having. A serious case of FOMO, with a side serve of jealousy and insecurity thrown in for shits and giggles.

So I got over it, and will chalk it up to a learning experience.

But lots of people can’t get past disappointment, whether it’s in their professional or personal lives.

A very dear friend of mine was passed over for a promotion a year ago, and has never recovered from the disappointment. What she calls the humiliation. Her mental health has suffered considerably, her self-confidence is shattered and her willingness to put herself out there for new opportunities has disappeared. I imagine that she spends nearly every day feeling like I felt for just one day, and I can totally understand why she’s sinking into a pit of depression and despair. She feels hopeless, like a victim, like she has no power in her own life. She just can’t bounce back.

Resilience – or the ability to ‘bounce back’ – is something we all need to work on.

3 elephants walking in the desert

Resilience = inner strength

Here are eight ways to help build your own resilience.

Build connections

With family, friends, work colleagues or social groups. Online or IRL, make connections wherever you can. Ask for help if you feel you need it, and offer to help others when you can. Feeling connected and a part of a ‘tribe’ is an important part of building resilience.

Avoid blowing things out of proportion

Try not to catastrophise, and keep things in perspective. You may not be able to change what’s happened, but you can change how you think and feel about a situation. Remember, you have a 100% success rate of making it through shitty situations so far. The odds are in your favour that you’ll get through this one too.

Accept the things you cannot change

Yep, the Desiderata had it right. Sometimes you’ll want to change things that can’t be changed, and other times things will change when you don’t want them to. Scary yes, but it’d be pretty boring if everything stayed the same all the time wouldn’t it??

Set goals and work towards them

Set some realistic goals and make sure that your actions are working towards what you want to achieve. Do something regularly that moves you a bit closer to your goals. It doesn’t have to be huge, but it needs to be regular. It will help to give you a sense of purpose and direction.

Stay engaged and take decisive actions

Don’t detach from problems because they seem impossible to deal with. Ignoring them won’t make them go away. Taking decisive actions can help you to feel more in control of a situation, and less helpless.

Be kind to yourself

Negative self-talk is a killer. If you don’t say anything nice about yourself, then why would anyone else? This includes the internal monologue in your head. Knock that evil voice of self doubt and self destruction on its head. Trust that you have the ability to figure out what to do. Trust your instincts.

Hope for the best

Be that annoying optimist, not a gloomy pessimist. The glass actually is half full! Sometimes it’s completely full! And when it’s empty you have the power to refill it. Expect that good things will happen. Welcome them.

Take care of yourself

Exercise, eat well, get enough rest and don’t drink too much! When any of these things are out of balance, your ability to cope with testing situations can fly out the window. Do something that you enjoy, and pay attention to your own needs.


And on that note I’m off to have a bubble bath and a glass of wine 😉


What do you do to build your own resilience?

Are you a glass half full or half empty type of person?


If you feel like you’re really not coping with a situation, or you just need someone to talk to, then there are lots of places to go for help.

Lifeline 13 11 14

SANE Australia

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