We all heard in recent years about “resilience” and “building resilience”. It is quite popular at the moment, for the right reasons.

Resilience is one of the most powerful tools in your back pocket when it comes to facing adversities, those same adversities which can generate stress, anxiety, or more.

Resilience is about  “coming back” rather than “bouncing back”

When I first heard about it, I thought being resilient was about being passive and doing nothing. I couldn’t be more wrong. There is of course an important element about accepting the situation, but it is very much about attitude to change things.

What is resilience?

  • Resilience is one for the most powerful skills. It is about facing adversities, feeling the pain but then growing out of it. It is a process. At its core, resilience is about finding constructive ways of dealing with adversities by experimenting with problem solving options.
  • It is about managing emotion and emotional response, not about suppressing them. This is the biggest misconception. Loads of people avoid experiencing the emotions, and appear “tough”, but this is not what resilience is about
  • Resilience is built through pain&struggle and the willingness to experience them. Non-resilience is about avoiding both! 
  • Yes some people are built more resilient than other, but tha’t ok, because you can access it like everyone else. 
  • I don’t like bouncing back, makes it sound easy and fast , when in fact building resilience is not easy, and not fast at all.

What I like about resilience is that :

  • It is accessible to everyone. We can ALL learn to be more resilient
  • It is a constant practice. Like your brain, it needs to be trained and practiced or you loose the skills you develop. Treat it like a muscle.
  • You can apply attitudes and skills of resilience to any daily challenges (like traffic jam)
Resilient attitudes are flexible in nature in order to adapt to new circumstances: accepting adversity, what is or isn’t in our control to change, and trying out different problem solving solutions

Indeed, attitude is at the heart of resilience. Resilience is about choosing your attitude and response towards adversities

“everything can be taken from a man but one thing: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances”

Viktor Frankl (survivor Nazy camps)
Being Resilient is something you strive for

What is CBT?

CBT is at the core of resilience building. In the 1950s, clinical psychologist Albert Ellis developed a dynamic approach to tackling problems. He helped people change their underlying belief patterns and make positive breakthroughs in the way they experienced life’s challenges. Hi model paved the way for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which today focuses on helping people to change negative behaviors without the need to delve deep into their psyches to see how and where the problem originated.

His work, in particular his ABC model, has been used widely by those working in the field of stress management. The ABC model helps you to gain insights and HOW and WHY you react to stressful events and to challenges and the underlying beliefs and replace them with more rational and supportive ways of thinking.

Uncovering your subconscious views, opinions and thinking relative to a situation that make you feel upset, anxious, angry, humiliated or undermined – and all those negative emotions that manifest from stress – can be hugely liberative.

The ABC understanding of stress

Rather than holding external events responsible for our stress or unhappiness, our interpretation of these events is what triggers our response.

  • A – Activating Event around you
  • B – Belief you hold of the event or situation
  • C -Concequence: your emotional response to the belief
  • Then comes the Next Step, taking a rational approach by looking at the facts only, ask yourself
    • Is it logical?
    • Is it realistic?
    • What evidence do I have for this belief
    • Is it helpful to me and would I teach it to others?
  • D – Disputation: Reviewing belief to see if they are rational
  • E – Effective new approach

Stress Inducing Beliefs

We all hold belied which can be limiting, self-defeating, impossible to reach – these are a . lot of time those that trigger our stress. Examples below:

  • Life should go smoothly
  • I must always make an effort
  • I deserve recognition
  • My house must be clean and tidy
  • Things always go wrong

Doors of compensation

Stressful events don’t only generate feelings and emotional responses; they can also trigger behaviors or actions we use as coping mechanism. To release the pressure, we use one or more “doors of compensations”:

  • Toximania – drugs, smoke, drink compensation
  • Psychosomatic illness – preoccupation with mental and physical health
  • Over-exertion – workaholism or sport
  • Crime – way to get even when life is unfair
  • Phobia
  • Panic
  • Debauchery – excessive intake of food or other, drama
  • Cruelty – being mean and abusive language

Stress-Alleviating thoughts

Get all the fact before you react. ” the greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over an other” – William James, American psychologist.

Reality checklist:

  • Is this so terrible? Will it matter in a week or a year?
  • We all human and make mistakes
  • You can’t like everyone and not everyone can like you. Doesn’t impact your worth
  • You can have strong emotions reactions, doesn’t mean the event merits it.
  • Events are never in your control. Remember what is in your control, what is not
  • Don’t avoid problems: they won’t go away

“what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”

Friedrich Nietzsche