November 20, 2016

How To Be Resilient During Tough Times

How To Be Resilient During Tough Times

“The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It's our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows."

~ Brené Brown

# 1. Follow the 8 steps below

Between February and May of this year, both of my parents passed away. It was not at all the way I had imagined their transitions would happen, nor did I ever dream they would be so close together. I was emotionally and physically close to both of them as we all lived in the same area my entire life.

Shortly after my father died (he passed after mom), my close confidant and “truth teller” friend, told me she was incredibly inspired by how I was handling their deaths. She said she had never before witnessed sadness and acceptance at the same time and was unsure that she would be able to be “that strong”. After hearing that, I took an outside look at my behavior and I could see exactly what she was talking about. I was terribly sad, but I was doing okay.

I questioned myself about possible denial or avoidance (I am a coach ya know) and even spoke to my friend about it. We both agreed there was no denial or distraction happening here. We talked further about how some people handle life’s difficulties “better” than others and she wondered how I was able to move through something so traumatic so gracefully. I gave our conversation some serious introspection and I determined that there are indeed thought processes, spiritual beliefs and perception changes that keep me in touch with my center during traumatic times. I also recognized the key to resiliency is remembering it’s an attitudinal and spiritual shift that will take some effort.

8 Steps To Being Resilient In Your Life

1. Trust in the Universe– Know a power greater than you has your back. You are not alone. You are never alone. Reach out, connect, pray, meditate and listen. You are being guided. Everything is in Divine Right Order at all times.

2. Stop resisting “what is”– Move towards pain instead of away from it. Embrace it, feel it, process it, and accept it. We cannot change “what is”. We can accept it and find peace or fight it and suffer.

3. Look for the blessings– Resiliency means mourning the losses and enduring the frustrations while finding the redeeming factors within. In all situations, there are blessings if we open our hearts to them.

4. Gratitude– Practice gratitude for what is good in our lives and what we are provided with. Be grateful for opportunities we’ve had in the past and the opportunities that will present in the future. Know that this is not the end.

5. Allow for humor– No one wants to think that it is politically correct to laugh during difficult times; however, I beg to differ. Seeing the humor in life and laughing about it is okay even during life’s upsets. Laughing and smiling are clinically proven to lift our spirits. Practicing presence can bring this forth. Release the need to convince anyone of your pain by staying stuck in it constantly.

6. Growth opportunities– All difficult situations provide us with growth opportunities. What are you learning? What wisdom are you gaining from this? How can you use this situation to bring you closer to Love and away from fear?

7. Release victimhood– Know that we always have a choice to remain a victim of life or to rise out of circumstance better than we were before. The choice is always ours.

And last, but definitely not least…

8. Trust the love– Always remember… Love is THE most powerful force in the Universe. It is eternal and nothing can ever take that away.

RIP Mom and Dad. I love you.

Kristen Brown, Author & Certified Empowerment Coach –

# 2. Use the STOP Skill

Building resilience requires Crisis Survival Skills, which are Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills designed to tolerate the moment when a crisis occurs without making it worse. A crisis is a highly stressful event, that has an intense urge to resolve, and is short term. Crisis Survival Skills help an individual endure a crisis situation without making it worse.

Stop Skill

S: Stop and don’t move.

T: Take a step back from the crisis, breath, walk around the block, take a break

O: Observe what is happening in your body or outside of you, explore the situation, your feelings about it and your thoughts

P: Proceed from a place of Wise Mind, meaning the Wisdom within.

Changing the body temperature

Individuals, can use cold water to help regulate strong and overwhelming emotions, it creates the “dive response” and lowers the temperature of the body and slows the heart rate down. Think in terms of “boiling rage” to “cooling calmness” – it is shocking at first but does work. Consult your doctor before trying this skill.

Intense Exercise

For a short while engage in an exercise that is intense and requires your entire body to engage. This will distract your mind and body to focus on something other than your thoughts and the crisis.


Learn a breathing technique for example Paced Breathing.

Distracting skills are helpful to endure a crisis without making it worse. Try Activities, Contributing to others, perhaps comparisons in a non judgmental way, a form of looking at things that creates the thoughts and awareness that things could be worse, changing your emotions for example with music, a movie or an engaging book, pushing away, is a skill that asks that we push out thoughts or thoughts about a situation into a box and imagine putting it away, thoughts, can be changed, by engaging in puzzles, TV or reading and sensations, learning how to engage the sensory experience through the five senses.

Self Soothing Skills are designed to engage the five senses, from vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Create an environment daily that enhances your senses, however, when in a crisis, have some ideas that you can do that will help activate the senses and calm you during the stressful time.

Improving the Moment skills are skills designed to remind you of meaning, that all things have a meaning according to some, prayer, if you are comfortable with prayer, encouragement by affirming how well you are doing and being able to cheerlead yourself, imagery, the value of imagining things going well, and visualizing that, as well as relaxation, and learning how to relax in the moment and being one mindful, meaning being in the moment, vacation is part of improving the moment, doesn’t have to be a trip away, perhaps just a brief vacation in your patio.

Surviving a crisis, requires one to accept reality by radically accepting what has occurred, sometimes this happens over time and takes time before something can be radically accepting. The key is to have willingness to turn your mind to radically accept the crisis. Once you are on the path to acceptance, the suffering will decrease to endurable pain.

Lisa Bahar, MA, LMFT –

# 3. Follow the 4 tips below

I found that it was really tough to face situations boldly before I started my healing journey. I didn’t realize it until then, but for most of my life I was rooted in fear. By that, I mean, if you started peeling away layer after layer of my beliefs about life and love, at the deepest core of my being you would find fear at the foundation. Every situation, loss or change triggered my anxiety and fear to come to light.

I once heard a spiritual teacher compare being rooted in fear to holding a huge beach ball under water. You can do it for a while, but sooner or later, the ball comes shooting up out of the water. This is how I responded to almost everything difficult. Like a geyser.

I was the opposite of resilient. I believed that the worst case scenario was most likely, so my mind, heart and soul reacted accordingly. My fear erupted into anger, self-protection and controlling behavior.

To heal, I had to go deep. I had to stop trying to control my outer world, and begin looking at my inner world. I had to ask for a miracle. I had to allow love to replace fear at my foundation.

I did this by immersing in several daily practices.

1. Every day, I listen to talks by respected spiritual teachers; Debbie Ford, Marianne Williamson, Joel Osteen, Brene Brown, Elizabeth Lesser, and my church pastor to name a few.

2. I walk in the woods. But I don’t tune out during my walk- I tune in. I invite the miraculous shift from fear to love to take place within me.

3. I write. Whether it is blogging, my journal, letters…it doesn’t matter. I write about my journey and I process my feelings. I own my fear. “I am afraid!”

4. I surrender my fear. For me, this happens when I praise and thank the Spirit at work within me. I see my faith to grow a little more every day, by inviting love to take up residence at the foundation of my being.

I found that once my fear got yanked out by the root, and I committed to these daily practices, I became not only an authentic, but also a resilient person who believes in best case scenarios and the miraculous healing power of love. That person can get through anything.

Sue Markovitch, Author and Life Coach in Westerville, Ohio –

# 4. Learn to increase the accuracy and flexibility of your thinking

Building resiliency is an important aspect of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). As a cognitive behavioral therapist, we define resilience as the ability to endure, to adjust and to bounce back from challenging situations. Resiliency enables us to enjoy life more and impacts our overall well-being, while helping us to better accept ourselves and others. Resilience enables us to overcome the sorrow, setbacks and frustrations that are an unavoidable part of life. In other words, resilience is a strong factor of good mental and emotional health because it helps us to persist and cope and feel in control even when times are tough.

The first step and most important step in becoming more resilient is learning to increase the accuracy and flexibility of our thinking. Most individuals who lack resilience are quite often stuck in a rut in how they think about their difficulties. Their unhealthy thoughts contribute to unhelpful beliefs and this affects their overall attitude. In other words, it is a person’s view of events, not the actual events themselves that determines the person’s emotional and behavioral reactions. Core beliefs that are irrational or unhelpful have a negative effect on our resiliency.

Let’s take a look at some of these unhelpful underlying beliefs:

– I must do everything perfect or it’s not worth doing at all.

– It is absolutely horrible when things are not the way I think they should be.

– I should be anxious and nervous about anything that is unknown, uncertain or potentially dangerous.

– I must be loved, liked or approved of by everyone, all of the time.

– It’s easier to avoid things than to face life’s difficulties.

– The world should always be fair and just.

The best way to teach yourself to replace your negative thoughts is to begin to keep a “thought journal”, and follow this step-by-step process:

– Notice and write down your negative thought. For example, “it’s going to be awful if my boss yells at me and I won’t be able to take it”

– Dispute the negative thought. “Actually, I don’t know if he’s going to yell at me. That would be fortune telling. All I can do is my best – I have no control over how he acts.”

Replace the negative thought. “My boss has yelled at me before. I can cope with it if it happens. Although I don’t like it when he looses his temper, it won’t be the end of the world

This will probably be very challenging in the beginning. However, with practice, replacing your negative thoughts with thoughts that focus on your inherent strengths and abilities will contribute to a more resilience-oriented outlook on life.

Marion M. Plessner Rodrigue, M.S. –

# 5. Positive self-talk is key

Resiliency is the one thing many believe some people are, and some people are not. Many often hear, children are very resilient, however, we do not necessarily always hear how resilient adults can be. Oddly enough, we often say, “He or She will make it through this. They’re resilient.” Do you wonder, though, what makes a person resilient?

Tough times look different for each person. What may be considered devastatingly tough for one person, may honestly not be devastating for another. Having a car repossessed can be extremely difficult for one person, and yet for another, the accomplishment of having it for a year and then repossessed is a celebration for another. Receiving a phone call from your bank to say that your account is overdrawn, may be a near fatal experience for some, and yet for others may not shake their ground whatsoever. The loss of a loved one, job transitions, and relationship breakups to name a few, can be devastating for some, whereas, others, soar through like an eagle in the wind.

So what is this resiliency thing about anyway? It is about, being aware of where you are in your life. It is about being aware of how you feel going through certain situations in your life, that may be harder for your to handle than others. It is about having a mindset of success, determination, and accomplishment despite your circumstances.

In being resilient, one thing that is a necessity, is that you must encourage yourself. Tell yourself, “this too shall pass.” “I’m going to be okay!” “I’m going to make it through this and be so much better on the other side.” Your mindset and what you say to yourself through some of life’s biggest troubles, will determine your being and emotional state on the opposite side. Being resilient is about bouncing back after adversity. Being resilient is about recovering quickly from whatever difficulty you have faced. Being resilient is about working with all of your might to maintain as much of a positive mindset as possible to ensure that you come out of your situation stronger, wiser, humble, and ready to rumble for what lies ahead!

NaKaisha Tolbert-Banks, LCSW –

# 6. Learn from the hurt

I could write a whole book on this subject alone! Resilience is such a big area. It is also complex. What makes some people get over things easily while others find it much harder to pick themselves up, dust themselves down and get back on the horse? Our early experiences and attitudes affect us profoundly. If we suffer massive grief or loss for example as a young child then subsequent losses may bring up the earlier trauma. Unless we are able to work through those earlier difficulties. And the attitudes of our parents or early care-givers also effects how we respond to loss. So you can see how complex it can be.

However, complexity aside, there are things we can do as adults to learn to develop more resilience. The good news is that self-care is something we can all work on and it has a corresponding link with our resilience. Eating well, getting enough sleep and having a regular sleep pattern, time of going to bed and getting up, have all been demonstrated to improve our capacity to deal with life’s challenges. So too, does exercise and having a good support network. Having a range of family, friends or confidants to go to when things are tough helps us feel more connected and is likely to be a factor in resilience. Add to this list a sense of contributing to something and giving back to the community and being involved in meaningful work which contributes to a sense of purpose in life. Also having a connection to something outside of ourselves such as religious belief, faith or spirituality clearly assists many people get through difficult times.

Lastly, my most favorite is cultivating a capacity to live in the present moment. By practicing mindfulness and meditation we develop our capacity to be with what is, to embrace as Jon Kabat Zin would say, the full catastrophe of living. This allows us to develop a capacity for acceptance of what is and this enable us to feel our feelings, to fully allow ourselves to connect with our experience but not to be so identified with it that it overwhelms us, at least some of the time. Mindfulness is a practice which as well as developing our awareness enhances our resilience in every facet of our lives.

Margie Ulbrick, LLB/BA/GD SOCSCI –

# 7. Gratitude meditations can be very helpful

Unexpected and difficult things will happen to all of us throughout life.

How we handle it and bounce back depends so much on our perspective and what pieces of our lives we choose to focus on. Of course we need to look back at our experiences to learn from them and process them, but we need to spend more time focusing on the present and planning our future, than looking back.

Realizing that the future holds new opportunities and experiences increase the ability to be resilient in difficult times. When you’re really struggling it may take real effort to get your mind to think in this way, but putting effort into it is worthwhile.

Gratitude meditations can be very helpful to gain a more positive and realistic perspective on what’s happening as well.

This is a simple exercise that involves sitting comfortably, closing your eyes (I like to put my hands on my hard to bring a focus for the feeling) and thinking of something or someone that you are grateful for.

Focus on this and hold that feeling for a few minutes before moving on to something else you are grateful for. You can do this for as long as you like and it will help you regain a positive perspective to increase your resiliency and strength as you go through this difficult time.

Jennifer Misenti, LPC, NSCA-CPT –

# 8. Follow the process below

When life doesn’t turn out the way you want it to do you crumble and fall apart?

If you want to learn how to grow through those experiences you will have to be willing to try some new approaches. Begin by taking some time to grieve the loss. Whether you’re dealing with a breakup, a job loss or even just an unexpected change of plan, let yourself feel the emotions. Stuffing them away or pretending you’re fine won’t help.

Don’t let this become a giant pity party by adding unnecessary hurts. If your tendency when feeling the emotions associated with one event is to bring in similar events from the past, you are doing something called snowballing. Stop snowballing by telling yourself you are only processing this one event. When your thoughts drift again, reign them back to the one event. Do not let yourself veer off this path.

After giving your feelings some time (preferably less than an hour per sitting for non-catastrophic events), begin to look at what you can learn from the event.

Maybe the job wasn’t really a good fit for you or the relationship wasn’t all you had thought. It isn’t about bashing what you don’t have, just about seeing it from another perspective. Look for golden nuggets that will help you become wiser when a similar situation happens again.

Shutting down is often a reactionary response.

If we were hurt in a relationship we might choose never to get involved with anyone again. If plans fell through you might say you’re never going to plan anything again. Those are extreme pendulum swings. Notice that you are thinking in extreme terms. The extreme isn’t a healthy answer. Come back to center and remind yourself that you are hurting and you are trying to protect yourself from ever hurting again; that is an unrealistic goal, so take a deep breath and let it go. Hurt is an inevitable part of being human.

Feeling the experience, learning from it and getting back in the game are ways you can deal with the unexpected and grow. We can’t prevent all bad things from happening to us, but we can learn from them and use our learning to help ourselves the next time around.

Karen Thacker, LPC –

# 9. Follow the 8 tips listed below

We have all been there. A break-up, a death of a loved one, a loss of a job, a health scare, or being in a job that just sucks the energy out of you. Some people, though, are able to bounce back with what seems like ease while others still have trouble years later. The beauty, however, is that resiliency can be learned. Yes, even now.

I have been in jobs that were full of toxic people, bullies, dark clouds of negative energy and low morale. I would come home crying and my moods were all over the place. I ate junk and stopped exercising because I just didn’t have the energy. I developed health issues as a result, but for some reason I still stayed. Why? I felt I couldn’t do better. I thought I couldn’t get a better job. I didn’t want to leave the security I had of working in a position where I would be set for life and get paid well. What I didn’t know then was that I had better things in store for me. I just couldn’t get myself out of the way for it to happen.

Here are some ways you may be able to work through your tough time.

1. Allow yourself to feel

I see this all the time in my practice and have also experienced this myself. I would shove things inside and act as if it did not exist. If the problem was not acknowledged then it wasn’t true. This could be farther from the truth. If you do not allow yourself to feel that anger, hurt, sadness or pain, you are only going to sit in it longer. The key here is to learn from your experience and then move on. We don’t want to stay in that anger but you do want to give it a voice so that you can move through it and not over it.

2. Release the victim role

This can be a tough one. Being honest and open with yourself is important here however. Do you tend to blame others for your misfortune? Do you give yourself excuses for why you do not do what you need to do? Take ownership of your situation and how you got to be where you are. In my case, I allowed the bullying to continue by not speaking up for myself. It did not change until I gave myself the power to change it. I took control of what I could control. Once I had, it stopped.

3. Forgive others and yourself

Forgiveness can be very challenging. One of the reasons for this is because we feel that if we forgive those that hurt us we are condoning the behavior and sending the message that it is okay. When I was bullied in my workplace I felt hate and resentment towards this person. All I could do was talk ill about this individual. It consumed my mind. As I worked on forgiving and letting go, the emotions I felt when thinking of this person, were no longer attached. Of course it feels easier not to forgive, but, what we are actually doing is holding ourselves hostage. If you harbor bitterness in your heart, you are the one holding onto it, not the other person. Forgiveness takes times but allowing yourself to go through the process allows you to heal and move forward. Write about it, talk about it. That’s how you start. Feel it and then move on.

4. Pay attention to your self-talk

Pay attention to how you talk to yourself. Are you always telling yourself that you are terrible, that you don’t deserve good things, or that life is hard? Talking to yourself this way will only keep you there. Focus your attention on positive thoughts. Thoughts become reality. Speak to yourself the way you want to be spoken to regardless of whether you believe it or not. Your new way of thinking will become your current way of thinking. You were not born thinking negatively, it was learned. Therefore it can be unlearned.

5. Visualize yourself getting better

Feel it, See it, Hear it! Yes, it’s that simple. Every night I would verbalize how grateful I was to have all that I had (what I had and what I wanted to bring to fruition). There is no concept of time when it comes to the universe and manifesting. Act as if you already have what you want it life and notice how it comes into your life. It may be a loss of a job, which seems terrifying at first, but that only opens the door to a better job or career. You just don’t know it yet. Staying positive during the transition is a must. Keep your energy high. Another tool that I have been using lately has come through my training in hypnotherapy. I tell myself, every night, “Every day, in every way, I am better and better”. What you are doing is working with your subconscious mind and retraining your brain. It really works and it’s very simple.

6. Surround yourself with positive people

Isolating is probably one of the worst things you can do. (This is very different from detaching to recharge – the key word here is recharge.) The more you isolate from others the more you are in your thoughts. This only gives you more room to dwell on how bad you think things are. Develop strong and supportive relationships – both in your professional and personal life. Ditch the negative relationships. If you surround yourself with negative people you will think the way they do. If you are able, also get yourself out of the toxic environment you are in. The more room you give to releasing negativity, the more you have to allow positivity in. It’s like cleaning out your closet.

7. Ask for help and help others

Sometimes we are too ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help. We think it means we have failed. So, if we don’t ask for help, no-one knows and our pride does not get hurt, right? Wrong! Ask for help!! Not only do you give others permission to help themselves but you also get help with what you are facing. This helps us realize that we are not alone. You can also turn to service work. What’s fascinating about this is that as you help others you help yourself. When you help others you come from a place of sincerity and you begin to notice good things happening to you. You also get out of your head. This is the road to success.

8. Reward yourself and focus on the present

Do small things each day and congratulate yourself for making those changes. Maybe your goal is to have your own business someday. How do you get there? You get there by taking small steps along the way and congratulating yourself for those small steps. Also, make sure to live in the present moment. Often times, I see folks living in the future. It’s great to have a future goal, but when you live there, it does not become reality. In fact, you create anxiety by living in the future. Instead create your future goal(s) by writing a list of what you want to manifest and then work backwards from there. What can you do, each day, to get yourself to that future goal? This way you are living in the present. You will realize you are where you want to be faster than you thought you would be.

You have all the power to change things for yourself. You can do it, just believe in yourself! Remember, you are not alone.

Lissette LaRue, MS, NCC, LPC, CHT –

# 10. Resilience is pulled from our emotional, physical and spiritual resources

Resilience… The ability to ride the waves… Sometimes we are able to stand up on the board and ride the wave in, and other times we are tossed around by the ocean arriving in a heap on the beach. Either way, we know there’s another wave coming. How we handle ourselves between waves of tough times gives us the skills to ride the next big wave. However, sometimes the waves come to close and you don’t have time to recover.

Resilience is pulled from our emotional, physical and spiritual resources.

On the physical level, in tough times, sleep is paramount. Eating healthy, simple foods and participating in basic exercise, such as walking 20 minutes a day, can help build resilience. On the spiritual level, 10 deep belly breaths can reduce stress, bring a sense of calmness, and provide clarity in thought. Spending time in nature, reading positive books, or listening to uplifting music can be restorative. Practicing your faith, even if your faith is shattered, can bring peace.

On the emotional level, support from friends, family, community or even a therapist decreases isolation and helps to understand your feelings.

Asking for help, whether it is for babysitting, a ride to an appointment, a meal or house or yard work, can help reduce feeling of being overwhelmed. Coping with difficult emotions can be done by writing in a journal daily or creating an art journal. Art journals are powerful when words fail. One way to use an art journal is to create a background using colors that express your emotion. Then, cut out and glue down pictures or words which express the feelings you are experiencing. No art skills required.

Resilience takes effort which is difficult when you are already feeling so depleted and worn out.

The key is action. Take a step, and then start to move forward by building on the first step. Ultimately, you will be able to regroup and develop plans to rebuild your life. You have the power to ride the wave. Embrace your strength.

Anne Shopp, LMFT, CACII –

# 11. Follow the tips below

Being resilient is a term we hear a lot these days when it comes to dealing with the many challenges life can bring. Working with trauma victims and complicated grief for over 10 years as well as being a survivor of several traumas, I have noticed that simple word can create more pressure for you to heal faster as well as be compared to others. Rather than being caught up in the pressure to ‘heal the right way’, allow yourself the freedom to know that you ARE capable of more than you can possibly imagine and these roadblocks are part of your Soul’s mission! Everyone heals differently, so it’s important you explore what works for YOU!

We are here to learn. Life is about facing those many challenges and to carry that new-found wisdom forward into the future (Turning Wounds Into Wisdom). We can’t escape the learning experience, so we need to give ourselves permission to go through it or we will face getting stuck in it! In order to move through it, we have to first be aware that our trauma will try to rob us of one major powerhouse we own……our memories and experiences of LOVE! The healing power of love is like no other and YOU have every right to keep it or retrieve your memories to allow your wounded heart to give and receive love again!

In all things, give yourself permission to heal!

Feed your Soul and wounded heart by GIVING love to yourself and others:

1. Allow the grief to flow in whatever healthy way that is. Allow those emotions to flow through sharing (with those you trust), writing, art, music, prayer, and/or exercise.

2. Feed your passions, but be aware of escaping into addiction.

3. Give to others or a charity you love!

4. Share your story when you are ready.

Feed your Soul and wounded heart by RECEIVING love from those you trust:

1. Allow others to listen while you share your thoughts, feelings, and emotions with them.

2. Allow others to help you with any physical needs that arise.

3. Accept healthy physical touch when it is offered….this is extremely healing!

4. Accept any blessings that come along.

You may stumble in this process, so forgive yourself. “You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward! That’s how winning is done!” ~Rocky Balboa

Cheryl Mlcoch, M.S., LPC –