How to become more resilient

How to become more resilient

Let’s begin with a simple task. Think of someone you know who has never struggled in life, not even once. Someone who has never suffered a loss; someone who has had a perfect, trauma-free life. Trust me, there is no one. After all, our very birth is considered “a traumatic experience” due to the expansion of our lungs as we take our first breaths of oxygen.

Each one of us has experienced a difficult time, a time in which the pain felt too heavy to carry. How did we survive? How did we move forward?

The answer is “resilience”.

Resilience is a mechanism that helps us to adapt to stressful situations, traumatic or tragic events and / or everyday life problems (financial, relationship, family or health problems, etc.). In other words, it helps us to adapt to challenging and stressful conditions.

Time, in combination with high levels of resilience, can lead you through and out of a challenging period of your life! Resilience is not a magical pill, however. It won’t numb or prevent the pain you are feeling. Often, we have to face our emotional distress before we can overcome a tough situation.

Ways to build resilience

But what if we feel we don’t have this power of “resilience”? The good news is that we are born with a survival instinct. More importantly, resilience is a trait that we can continue to enhance to its full potential, by developing our thoughts and actions. Let’s see what we can do in order to be the “heroes” of our lives... 

Life, please DO send lessons my way

Accept this fact: it’s almost impossible to avoid life crises. So, don't try to. Instead, choose to reflect on all the things you have learned so far. Each person and situation in our life is a lesson for us. Take the time to learn the lesson – make it a good one! – so you’re prepared for next time. Yes, you might uncover some cruel truths – it might hurt – but there is something positive to take from every situation.

Even the most unimaginable pain – like losing someone close to you – will reveal something positive, and often quite simple and profound. Perhaps the pain brought family and friends closer or acted as a reminder to reflect on our own lives and the things we want to do while we are alive.

Be happy for each life moment; be grateful for each lesson learned.

Past, oh past

Your past is one of the best instructors on expanding your resilience levels. Take a moment to recall all the life events that drew on your personal strength.

What strategy did you follow? How did you overcome the obstacles? Which people had your back or inspired you? Which life lessons did you learn from these experiences? What helped you to keep hoping? Answering these questions can help you discover effective responses to current (and future) challenging life situations.

Embrace your complexity

When facing a hard situation, it is considered very important to listen deeply to your inner voice, regarding your emotions and needs. Feeling vulnerable, weak or sad is part of the process; try not to suppress these very normal feelings. Embrace your emotions, let your tears flow, let it out and let it go.

Additionally, try to do things for you and take care of yourself in the best way. Work out, read, engage your mind and give yourself time to relax. Step by step, become physically and mentally stronger from all you’ve been through and all that is to come.

Peer power

The contribution of relationships to a happier and more resilient life cannot be underestimated. Family, friends, social support, colleagues, your tennis mate… each and every person who is there to listen to you and provide you with words of kindness and support can help you get through a hard situation by raising your resilience levels.

Sharing your story and emotions with other people can offer you relief as well as better insight into the situation so that you can move forward.

Be the Columbus of your soul

Many of the greatest masterpieces were created during hard times. We may not all become well-known artists as a result of our miseries, but dark times can certainly lead us to greater self-discovery.

So, why not start a diary, meditation sessions and / or counselling, which are some of the best ways for self-exploration. This way, we learn new things about ourselves, improve our resilience attitude, build confidence and come to better appreciate ourselves and our lives.

Keep your head, standards and hopes high

Try to maintain a positive attitude, to see the glass as half full. Visualise a better future by surrounding yourself with images of what you want in life (a better job, a stable relationship, a new pet, just name it!), instead of focusing on worries and what you are lacking.

Set goals that, even if they are big, are realistic and can be achieved by taking many small steps. Organise those steps to achieve your goal and start moving towards it by taking decisive action.

The good news!

We are stronger than we believe. Yes, life can test us at times; however, it is a matter of perception. You already have stores – and stories – of resilience! And you can keep building your resilience and begin to feel more and more confident about your capacity to deal with challenges. Everything you are right now, everything you have learned so far, is already part of your “resilience arsenal”.

See if it’s possible to integrate the tips above – however, don't be afraid to ask for professional support if you’re struggling to move forward. Go on, grab each opportunity for you to grow and blossom!

Which of these “resilience tools” resonates with you? What is your approach to overcoming life’s difficulties? Join the conversation below!

PS Thanks to Dimiliana Nikiforou for her contribution to this article. 

Vivian  Chiona


Vivian Chiona

Vivian Chiona is the founder and director of Expat Nest (, which provides emotional support to expats and their families through online counseling services. A bicultural, multilingual expat with family...

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md_imranvalyani... 18:49 | 7 December 2018

Very powerful piece of information indeed!!!

vivianchiona 14:07 | 12 December 2018

Thank you so much! Glad you found it valuable!