Psychological resilience refers to an ability to withstand or more readily ‘bounce back’ from stress and grow from challenges. Other words used to describe psychological resilience include ‘mental toughness’ and ‘hardiness.’ The great news is that resilience can be developed and strengthened through deliberate practice. Below are four of the most effective strategies for promoting resilience.
Acceptance of suffering
Understand and accept that suffering is part of every human life. Resilient people understand that life is inevitably painful. We never get everything we want, we get hurt, and we cannot be perfect. As a result, resilient people are much less likely to feel discriminated against or singled out. Rather than, “why me,” they think, “why not me.” This understanding allows for greater acceptance and creates space for a more authentic experience.
Focus on what you can change
Resilient people are able to realistically appraise situations and focus on the things they can change, while letting go or setting aside things they cannot change. This is a realistic skill to learn and practice on a daily basis as we navigate challenges.
Make a deliberate effort to tune into what is good in your world each day
As humans we are hardwired to notice threats and weaknesses. Moreover, negative emotions often stick to us like glue, while positive emotions seem to be fleeting. Although this has been evolutionarily adaptive, it can leave us with a permanently active stress response as we are bombarded by the constant demands of a fast-paced, quick-access culture and perfectionistic expectations.
Resilient people are able to manage and cope with the negative, while still tuning into the good. They can connect with a sense of gratitude and appreciation even during challenges. This is also a realistic skill we can learn and practice as we work to direct our attention to the good and connect with a sense of gratitude. One simple practice supported by research involves recalling three good things that happened to you during the day or three things you are grateful for each day.
Ask, “Is this helping or harming me?”
Resilient people are often good at evaluating what is helpful versus what is harmful. Practice asking yourself, “Is what I’m thinking and doing helpful or harmful to me.” This question can be applied to a wide range of concerns including relationships, academic or career goals, health, loss, transitions, as well as overall mood and adjustment.
Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.
Visit us at lindquistpsych.com
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