7 tips to build resilience

Resilience is a habit. It’s not something that we are born with and it’s not naturally occurring. It’s defined by many things, from what you were told about yourself as a child to the coping mechanisms modelled to you, the experiences you’ve had in your life so far and your connection to others and the world. So, if you don’t feel very resilient right now, it’s something you can change. Here’s how to get started.


1. Build trust with yourself

The word ‘confidence’ comes from the Latin root ‘confidere,’ which means ‘I trust fully.’ So, confidence is, at its heart, a feeling of complete trust in ourselves. The basics of improving confidence and self-esteem revolve around creating this feeling of trust so that you can respond with more resilience - adapt (bounce back) or transform (bounce forward) - when you need to.

Approach building trust with yourself as you would with another person - do the things you plan to do, set healthy boundaries with yourself and others, embrace your vulnerability, give your thoughts space and get relentless with self-compassion so you never make yourself feel unworthy or less than. Once you have a strong sense of trust in yourself, the world around will feel like a much less scary or impossible place.

2. Step away from the comparison

Comparing ourselves to others takes a heavy toll on self-esteem and whether or not you feel capable of solving your current challenges. It clouds judgment, means you ignore all your own talents and attributes and can make you feel heavy and stuck. It can also be very time-consuming e.g. spending hours scrolling on Instagram.

Research by Stylist magazine found that our confidence is most likely to be dented online by ‘people who make life look easy’. 44% of Stylist readers compared themselves negatively when they saw others having amazing experiences on social media, 40% felt this with respect to career success and 38% felt a sense of inferiority when comparing where their peers were at in terms of 'benchmark' moments.

Some comparison is a natural human instinct but it can become intensified and warped if you’re already struggling with self-esteem or spending a lot of time on social platforms envying others’ lives. Start minimising comparison narratives by cutting them off at the source - less time on your phone, for example - and then putting real energy into reminding yourself that:

a) No one’s life is as perfect as it seems on Instagram.

b) We all get to different stages at different times.

c) There’s a whole load of things you have to be proud of and celebrate about you, just the way you are.

3. Take some risks

If this makes you instantly nervous, then go back to tip one and look at more ways that you can build trust with yourself and your ability to handle challenges and the unexpected.

We all have a different level of comfort when it comes to risk and this can be different with respect to physical and emotional risk. Think about how you feel about risk - are you willing to step into the unknown and embrace success or failure or do you avoid any situations where you might not get something right?

Taking risks is how we grow in life but it doesn’t have to be reckless.

In any situation that feels risky, you can prepare, research, investigate, ask questions, look for ways to calm yourself physically and be inspired by others who have taken risks and grown through it. Why does this matter for resilience? Because regularly getting outside your comfort zone provides your mind with proof that transformation is possible - and will make you more resourceful even in a challenging situation.

4. Work out what your triggers are

We all get thrown off track from time to time - into anxiety or fear, losing motivation, feeling unfocused or falling into numbing ourselves with food, sex, booze, etc. Our triggers usually send us into a habitual pattern of thinking or doing that can keep us stuck, unhappy or not achieving the things we want for ourselves.

Start noticing what you do if you feel afraid, ashamed, unwanted, unappreciated, unseen, etc. What painful feelings are the hardest for you to handle and what are your habitual responses to painful feelings? This is all about finding a way to continue making kind and mindful decisions for yourself even if you’re in a difficult or painful situation. It’s resilience 101.

5. Be more aware of your (self-imposed) limits

We all have habitual places where we stop - these are the thresholds that we need to move beyond to feel differently day-to-day. Signs that a limit is there might be “I’m not someone who can have that” or “I could never do that” or “that’s not me.”

The reality is that most of us could achieve almost anything we put our minds to. Limits are usually other people’s stories about us (or how the world works) that we’ve internalised - a boss who told you that you were too sensitive to be a good leader, a parent who said that boys don’t express their feelings, an ex-partner who said you were just naturally bad with money.

Start thinking about where you place limits on yourself and how these are making you approach life with less resilience. This is often where working with a coach can be especially useful, as it can be tough to recognise self-imposed limits - an experienced third party can reflect back to you exactly how, and where, you hold yourself back so that you can start to make change.

6. Be relentless about self-compassion

This is your superpower in resilience terms, which might sound surprising. We often view compassion as something soft and a bit pointless but it’s actually incredibly transformative and empowering.

Self-compassion is what allows you to see your challenges and weaknesses as just part of being human, to give yourself the freedom to try and fail, to be flexible and open-minded and to create the space for being vulnerable. This is important because it’s through vulnerability (showing up and letting ourselves be seen for who we really are) that we find intimacy, connection, creativity, belonging and validation.

7. Make small steps your goal

We often have an expectation that change comes in one big moment of powerful transformation - that’s not the case. 99.9% of the time change is the result of small steps consistently taken over time and that’s especially so when it comes to resilience.

It will look different for everyone but it could be anything, from consistently practising how to stop saying ‘yes’ when you mean ‘no,’ creating a healthy bedtime or morning routine, feeding yourself differently, doing self-awareness daily, changing the language you use, putting your phone down more or trying something new every day. 

As a resilience coach, I work with people to find out what they need to feel more resilient every day - and put this into practice. The experience of working with a coach can be especially useful if you’re not sure what the problem is, you don’t know where to start, you find it difficult to stick to new plans and routines or you’re not feeling very motivated. Being more resilient can transform almost any area of your life - it’s a vital skill to have and one that anyone can develop.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Winchester, Hampshire, SO23
Written by Alex Pett
Winchester, Hampshire, SO23

Alex is an ICF trained and NLP certified coach focused on helping people to deepen their resources to adapt and bounce back - and go on to thrive. She helps clients build confidence and self-belief, recover from burnout, develop self-assurance, intuitive connection and move beyond limiting beliefs. Clients achieve tangible change in 6-9 sessions.

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