77. Resilience: How to survive (and maybe even thrive!) in difficult situations.

WOW! Resilience is amazing! Not only is it a powerful tool to minimize stress, improve performance and create more ease, meaning and joy…it’s something we can all develop in ourselves! Simple, daily practices have proven effective at building resilience and helping folks deal with difficult situations; manage emotions and generate a positive outlook about life. We could use some of that right now! 


On this episode of Crina and Kirsten Get to Work, the timely topic for tillitating tete a tete between our co-hosts is resilience.  Let’s be honest – we are two years into a pandemic, regardless of your political persuasion many feel political and economic certainty and, oh yes, let’s add all of the regular challenges of being human in this world.  IT’S A LOT!  So what do we need – of course we need ease, meaning and joy – and there are good things out there – a dear friend, a beautiful sunrise, a long walk, a sweet dog – lot’s of good things.  We just need to get ourselves in a place where we can enjoy those things and that is where resilience comes in.

Adversity doesn’t discriminate. If we are alive, we are going to have to, or have already had to, deal with some tough times.  Navigating those tough times requires resilience – and resiliency is something we control.  

In the world of positive psychology, resilience is being able to recover and adapt quickly from a traumatic event or stressor. In other words, it’s a kind of inner strength.  Generally speaking, resilient people have a positive outlook; deal with difficult situations with ease and don’t exhibit excessive negative emotions during difficult times.  

Resilience helps us minimize stress, improve performance and leads to more ease, meaning and joy at work.  But a word of caution –  some folks are critical of the ‘ ‘resilience movement” because it puts the burden on the individuals who have little control over the systems they’re affected by.  Think of racism or sexism or ableism.  While resilience can be very helpful in these situations, an individual’s resilience does not, for example, resolve racism.  Resilience can help us manage but it is not a solution for systemic distrimination.

The good news is that because there is a concrete set of behaviors and skills associated with resilience, you can learn to be more resilient.

One, resilient people get that shit happens. They know that suffering is part of life. This doesn’t mean they actually welcome it in, they’re not delusional. But, resilience people seem to accept that suffering or challenges are part of every human existence.

Two, resilient people are really good at choosing where to focus their attention. They analyze a situation and focus on the things they can change and accept the things they cannot change. 

It is not about diminishing the negative as much as it is focusing on where they can get traction in changing their situation. 

Three, resilient people ask themselves, iIs what I’m doing helping or harming me?”  They seem to be aware of whether their actions are taking them in the directions they want to go – or not.  This requires self-awareness and honesty.  

Four, resilient people respond to stress rather than reacting and to stress and mental agility, which is the ability  to cognitively take a step back from the experience,  label thoughts and emotions and change their attention and/or the narrative about the situation.

Five,  resilient people compartmentalize so that they are not juggling or managing too much. This is similar to where resilient people direct their attention – and sometimes it makes sense to ignore some things and focus on others..

Six, resilient people understand the importance of connection – knowing they have a circle of support and being able to reach out if necessary.

Seven,  humor, which is an indicator of a positive outlook in general, also contributes to resilience – for all of the reasons – endorphins, a flat stomach  . . ..

Eight,  resilient people have optimism and hope or or belief or something like it – this can be a small kernel of hope or a belief that something good will happen.

Resiliency is a skill we can learn and improve over time and with practice.  Resiliency can be as small and simple as enjoying a hot bath at the end of a hard day or as big and complicated as losing a job,  taking  steps to redefine what we want in a job and getting out there to get it.

References and good reads:

5 Ways to Boost Your Resilience at Work

Lucy Hone: 3 secrets of resilient people | TED Talk