• Tiffany Sham

Building Your Path to Resilience

Resilience and Inner Strength, girls plank on beach powerful

“I don’t want to be remembered as the girl who was shot. I want to be remembered as the girl who stood up.”

– Malala Yousafzai


Resilience – the ability to bounce back up no matter what life throws at you and come back even stronger than before. That is the notion I got from reading Malala Yousafzai’s resonating quote. From daily struggles to particular difficult situations in the timeline of our lives, each of us has – at one point or another – struggled to stand back up. Yet we learn to adapt to these life-changing events that happen to us over time, which is the result of growing resilience.

So what makes us resilient and how does it contribute to the strong women that we are? External factors such as authoritative parents, warm relationships, and our environments contribute directly by teaching us positive personal resources at an early age, resulting in the development of effective coping behaviour in our practices. These personal resources include having a positive self-image, problem-solving skills, adaptability, and a general positive outlook. In the time of adversity, our intuitive application of coping behaviour and skills in the adverse event helps us overcome the situation. However, it is important to note that inner well-being has to be defined in the discussion of resilience as well. While an individual can display resilience, it is possible that they also experience high levels of stress, anxiety, and self-criticism or even inability to form close relationships. The importance of developing positive personal resources then becomes of importance.

But being resilient doesn’t necessarily mean forcing yourself to always have a positive outlook or require you to feel self-confident all the time. As someone who is quite optimistic and always smiling, there are definitely times where I don’t feel good and become stuck in cyclical, demotivating thoughts when I am knocked down. That’s when we have to remind ourselves that it’s okay. Whatever the situation may be, it’s okay, or it will be. Accepting the fact that you may not feel your best currently, or that you’ve made a mistake enables you to get past the emotion and be ready to overcome obstacles to reach success. We have to remember that failure is not a permanent condition – rather, it is a learning process, and a time for you to pick yourself up and move forward. As my favourite quote goes, “Today is the beginning of anything you want”. To any adversity coming your way, aim to get past it and make the day yours.

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How can we build resilience? The process is a very personal journey. Much like our bodies are all unique, our development journey is unique to ourselves too. As I am a big believer in working on yourself before working on external factors, there are some tips on how to transform your thinking and build resilience:

Celebrate and Leverage Your Strengths

Being able to identify your positive characteristics is a great way to foster self-confidence and create an optimistic outlook. This also allows you to focus on your competence. Some of your stronger strengths may arise naturally, while some may go unnoticed even by you. By taking the time to observe what you do best, even through the means of a strengths finding test, you begin to feel good about yourself and develop a more resilient mindset. Being able to consciously embrace the daily moments in life and being mindful (fully present) also contributes resilience.

Frame Obstacles into Challenges

When confronted with a problem, it is easy to feel as if we are the victim and that a situation is not going right for us. However, with this kind of mentality, we are left powerless in our position. Rather, if we are to perceive an oncoming obstacle as an opportunity for growth as with a challenge, we are given the power again to make choices and better the situation. This type of mentality may then boost resilience, instead of hindering it as with the victim mindset. By making this simple switch, you are able to put yourself in the position of control.

Acknowledge Your Progress

In our journey to success, it is natural that we want to set goals for ourselves and the yearn for the fulfillment of reaching them. However, if we solely focus on our end-goal and only gain satisfaction from achieving it, this may hinder the process of building resilience. Instead, regularly acknowledging every little progress that occurs not only keeps you happy, but employs positive reinforcement for further action towards your goals. Resilience will be built, and you can continue to thrive with progress.

There are several more ways to discuss the path to building resilience, especially a strategy unique to you. Below are further reminders:

  • Approach challenges with flexibility

  • Accept that change is part of living

  • Know what you are passionate about and make it your purpose

  • Learn to let go and be able to move forward

  • Cultivate excellent communication skills

  • Look for opportunities of self-discovery

  • Pay attention to what you need and take care of yourself

By identifying the parts in your life that you want to change and trying out these tips, you can learn more about yourself and pave the way for a more confident, resilient self. Perhaps the greatest takeaway for us is – we need to allow ourselves to make mistakes, so we can grow and thereby become more resilient. Regardless, each of us are strong women that have the infinite potential to face challenges with confidence!

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[1] https://positivepsychologyprogram.com

[2] http://positivepsychology.org.uk

[3] http://www.apa.org

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

[5] https://blog.emergingwomen.com

[6] https://www.sacap.edu.za

[7] https://www.thecut.com