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How to develop resilience, a 4-step exercise.

What is resilience?

Large or small, chronic or crisis, adversity happens. Part of life is to manage the demands of stressful events. We differ in the way in which we deal with difficult situations. In general, we can differentiate between helpful and unhelpful ways of dealing with situations. While some people give up and succumb to their despair, others persist and face life’s biggest challenges with hope and resilience.

What is resilience associated with?

Resilience is associated with inner strength, competence, optimism, flexibility, and the ability to cope effectively when faced with a challenge, bounce back and thrive in the face of adversity.

Resilience is not something that you have or you don’t have.

It involves behaviours, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.

So, what increases our ability to deal with life’s challenges, is minimizing the impact of risk factors, such as stressful life events, and on the other hand enhancing the protective factors, such as optimism, social support, and active coping.

How to develop resilience?

Resilience is about bouncing back from adversity. So, how to develop resilience? Here is a 4-step exercise that you can put into practice:

  1. Describe a current challenging situation

  2. Write as many thoughts as you have about your ability to deal with this current challenge

  3. For each thought ask yourself whether the thought is helpful or not.

  4. For each thought that you identify as NOT helpful, try to re frame them into more helpful, adaptive thoughts.


  1. Current challenging situation: "I have been laid off!"

  2. Thoughts: "Why does this happen to me?"

  3. Helpful? No

  4. More helpful alternative thought: "Although this is a difficult situation, many positive things happen to me", or "this is perhaps the push I needed to create my own business"...


A few questions that you can perhaps bear in mind are:

a. How was it to do this exercise?

b. What did you learn?

c. What could be the consequence of changing your thoughts?

d. What steps could you take to change the way you cope with challenges?


As a conclusion, although we may not always be able to change a difficult situation, we can always change the way we respond to the situation. And this is what resilience is about.


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