Becoming More Resilient

Becoming more resilient


Even the sound of it makes me feel so bounce back-able. It’s likely you don’t often think about resilience until a situation crops up calling for it. I know I certainly never did. But over the last few years, resilience has certainly been called into question for me far more than ever before. Perhaps, it is is a case of far more challenges my way or perhaps, a case of greater self-awareness. Whatever it is, I do feel I have been tested.

So what is this thing called ‘resilience’?

It is the process of adapting well in the face of anything bad – adversity, tragedy, threats or any kind of significant stress. It often is referred to as a ‘bouncing back’ and I was pretty chuffed to see that the American Psychological Association found research to show that resilience is, indeed, ordinary.

By this, they mean that many people demonstrate resilience. So it would appear that we are stronger than we seem. Yet, we all hear about suicide rates on the rise. It certainly seems the case in the US and in Malaysia. I guess we all still need to work on it.

Over the years, I have discovered how resilient I am, simply due to how I respond to the situations I find myself in and it’s been a great discovery for me. I don’t think I have the answers to everything. In fact, I feel I fail often at many things. But that’s ok. I’ve learnt to dance with fear and with a sense of discomfort because there’s been much growth and goodness every time I do.

So when Nica Foo approached me recently to post a short video on this topic, I took it on.

These have been my guiding principles in developing resilience:
1. Focus on what I want and need
By this, I mean that I work to get clarity on my goals and desires. I try often not to sit on the fence on the important issues. It’s so easy to keep deferring decision making on important but not urgent issues because there’s always tomorrow. But a decision that’s not made, I have discovered, is ultimately still a decision (but without a seeming owner). And I don’t want that. I don’t want life or chance or fate to make decisions for me that I am capable of making. The clarity that comes from knowing what and how I have decided helps tremendously in all the sub-decisions that flow my way as a result.

2. Failing is an inescapable part of the process
I used to be afraid of failing, of course, like many others. But not any more. I have seen that it is part of the process you need to go through, to get to the other side. The side of experience, of clarity, of discovery, of knowledge. I start the game, knowing there is a chance of failure and accepting that it is okay. I start, knowing that there is much to learn and discover and so it’s a race not as much to win as it is a race to learn as quickly as I can. I’ve seen that you can read all the books you can get your hands on but you don’t really know till you begin. You can hear all the lectures and do all the research but to begin is the real start. Just begin.

3. One step at a time
Part of my past failures revolved around my chronic need to see through every eventuality and mark out responses or avenues to cross when we get there. But life doesn’t quite work out that way and I’ve learnt to take things often, one step at a time. Knowing that I can’t see more than 50 metres ahead.

I am reminded of a story I once heard that when you’re driving, you don’t really need the entire highway lit in order to drive. You only need to see as far as your headlights and that has guided me for the longest time.

4. It’s over, what’s next?
That’s what keeps me going every time. If it does not work out, no point banging on it anymore. I allow myself a timeframe to suck and sulk and then move on.

Time is short, you got to make the most of what you have. There are new things to experiment with, discoveries to be made and you simply can’t do that moaning over what’s already happened.

I know this probably doesn’t work for many but it works for me. And I have my up and down days just as you do. So here’s the video I made on the topic of resilience. Let me know what you think?


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Astronomy dark dawn dusk photo courtesy Matheus Bertelli via

#resilience #livestrong #mindfulness

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