Self Improvement


Mandy Kloppers

4 Ways to build resilience

Ways to be stronger when life throws you challenges

There are many advantages to fostering resilience. Resilience helps people face and manage positive and
negative life events. Resilient people persist in the face of obstacles and, when necessary, accept circumstances that cannot be changed. Resilience provides a buffer to protect us from psychological and physical health consequences during difficult times. Some people never develop resilience. Others are quite resilient but do not recognize it; they may avoid challenges they could easily surmount. Sometimes, resilience is worn down by multiple stressors and challenges.

Focus on your strengths

Focus on your strengths and what you can do well. Strengths-based focus. Seven areas have been identified that help you to build resilience:

(1) good health and an easy temperament;

(2) secure attachment and basic trust in other people;

(3) interpersonal competence including the ability to recruit help;

(4) cognitive competence that encompasses the ability to read, capacity to plan, self-efficacy and intelligence;

(5) emotional competence including diverse emotional skills such as the ability to regulate one’s emotions, delay gratification, maintain realistically high self-esteem and employ creativity and
humour to one’s benefit;

(6) the ability and opportunity to contribute to others;

(7) holding faith that your life matters and life has meaning, including a moral sense of connection to others. We believe these seven areas provide a broad net with which to capture ‘strengths’.

Which of the above are you better at? Make a determined effort to focus on what you CAN do rather than what you CAN’T do.


Obstacles are the window into resilience because there is no need to be resilient until one
encounters difficulties. Without setbacks, we never know how well we will cope…

Think about some of the difficulties you run into in your daily life – debt, difficult people, lack of time, self doubt…how do you overcome this? Therein lies your resilience. TAKE CREDIT FOR IT!! Write it down, stick it on fridge and see it every day. Own it!

Build your own model of your resilience

We are different with individual strengths. Make a list of yours. Know it well – it will help you build your personal resilience ‘armour’ and confidence.

Here are some examples of examples of personal resilience:

  • I think about how I can help others,
  • I actively imagine other people and how I am helping them,  (shows empathy = a strength)
  • I trust in my ability to work hard,
  • I use humour,
  • I give myself time to think of good ideas,
  • I stick to it until I get the results I want

Personal model of resilience
Strengths                                    Strategies                                                                 Images/metaphors
Committed to my group              Think about how I can help others                                       Disc jockey
Like to make people feel good   Actively imagine other people                                     Flexible toughness
Think about my friends laughing
and feeling better

Trust in my ability to work hard                          Stay on a bucking bull
Work a long time without
getting tired
Use humour
Good sense of humour
Give myself time to think of good ideas
Good ideas
Stick to it until I get the results I want
Make a good vlog when

I stick to it                                          Use criticism or a mistake as a chance

to make something work better


Apply your resilience in your life

Think about how you could use your strengths in everyday life. What characteristics do you have that might help you to deal with difficulties in life? Patience, tolerance, open mindedness? Staying resilient is important in itself without having found a solution, sometimes there aren’t immediate solutions and resilience is still needed for these situations. In fact, resilience is even more important when there is no immediate solution. Somethings are just beyond out control – temporarily or permanently. Part of being resilient is knowing this fact.

Practise resilience

Think of a situation where you feel you are unable to cope, Then set up an experiment. Put yourself in that situation – whether means standing up to your boss or being assertive with your partner and decide beforehand how you can use your skills to stay strong. Predict how much you could take – 5 minutes?

This isn’t about the outcome, rather it’s about how you managed to cope being late for that appointment or standing up for yourself when your boss criticises you. Think of difficult situations as a good chance for you to practise being resilient.

This perspective changes life into a ‘win–win’ experience. If things go well, you win. If things do not go well, you have another chance to ‘win’ by being resilient. This perspective often enables my clients to embrace challenges and can help them overcome avoidance. Thus, resilience practise not only
helps people manage life difficulties, it minimizes the number of life events that are experienced as aversive.

Use imagery

When it comes to envisioning positive events, imagery is linked to greater positive mood than thinking about positive events in words. Imagine yourself coping well, visualise yourself talking assertively to that person who scares or intimidates you. Imagery can be a very powerful tool.

We all have strengths but often we don’t identify them. Yet, we all face challenges on a daily basis – time pressure, peer pressure, financial troubles, taxes, difficult and unreasonable people etc  Think a little about the difficult things you have overcome and think about those skills you used to get through. Try to use those same skills in other situations that challenge you – you are often stronger and more capable than you realise!

Mandy X

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