8 Tips for Bouncing Back from Hardship: A Christian Counselor on Resilience
After watching the postgame interviews of two NFL quarterbacks, I couldn’t help but notice the stark differences. Both Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick had experienced tough losses but why does Wilson respond so differently from Kaepernick? How does Wilson welcome adversity while Kaepernick seems to crumble under the burden? The difference boils down to the concept of resilience.
What is Resilience?
Resilience is the capacity to recover from life’s difficulties. Resilience is an essential life skill that helps us to bounce back from a variety of hardships, including illness, poverty, criticism, abandonment, death, fear, anxiety, and depression. In short, resilience is a life skill that is absolutely essential for a happy, healthy life.
Keep in mind that being resilient doesn’t make you immune from stress or hardship. Rather, having resilience means that you will experience and think about stress and hardship differently. Resilience gives you the ability to find meaning in the challenges life brings your way and to bounce back from them.
Where does Resilience Come From?
Resilience is not something that you are born with. Rather, it is something that is learned and developed over the lifespan. Children are equipped with abilities and inner strength that may lead to resilience later in life. Parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are responsible to nurture, teach, and train young people in a way that fosters resilience in children as they grow.
How is Resilience Strengthened?
As I mentioned earlier, it is the responsibility of adults to teach children how to be resilient. So, what can you do if you are an adult and you were not taught healthy resiliency in childhood? What if you never saw it modeled while growing up? Well, there is hope. With hard work adults can also learn how to be resilient.
Here are some ways to improve resilience in your own life.
- Think positive thoughts. Our thoughts directly impact our feelings and behaviors. Negative thoughts are like poisons that make us feel awful about our situation. But when we have positive thoughts we experience more positive emotions and see more possibilities in the middle of our difficult life circumstances. Watch the video of Russell Wilson again. Count the number of times he intentionally directs the focus of his comments to what is positive in the situation.
- Embrace change. Jesus promised that you will experience trouble and hardship (John 16:33). By accepting difficulties and anticipating change, you will be more prepared for it when it occurs. Believe it or not, change is good and sometime necessary. Embrace it.
- Establish realistic goals. What you resist persists, so don’t ignore the difficulties of life. Instead, look at them accurately, figure out what you can do, define realistic goals for yourself, and then get to work.
- Learn from past experiences. Reflect on past hardships with honesty. Look at what worked and what didn’t work and see failure as a helpful form of feedback. Get rid of what didn’t work and keep doing the things that helped you.
- Make it meaningful. Finding meaning during difficult times is essential as humans are wired for meaning and purpose. When we find meaning we find a reason to continue on. We can create meaning by finding ways to give to others, by being thankful for what we have, and by changing our attitude about our circumstances.
- Connect with others. Resilience does not mean toughing it out alone or being stoic in isolation. Instead it involves being able to reach out to others for support. A support system is essential because these relationships will provide you with necessary support and acceptance during difficult times. You can build your support network by connecting with others in communities such as church, school, neighborhood, and family.
- Practice self-care. Self-care is essential to preventing and reducing stress and enhances your well-being. Be aware of your physical, psychological, and emotional needs. Find healthy ways to meet those needs with exercise, rest, relaxation, and healthy eating habits.
- Look to Jesus. Keep your perspective on the faithfulness of God. God promises to supply all of our needs. In times of anxiety, stress, and hardship, keep in mind that He is faithful to help.
A Christian Counselor Can Support You in Bouncing Back
Becoming resilient takes time and practice. Sometimes life brings us difficulties that we can’t seem to move past. It is important to seek professional help if you feel that you are not making progress, or you don’t know where to start. A professional Christian counselor can come alongside you and help you to bolster resilience.
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