We have all heard about the importance of building resilience. Resilience is often considered a characteristic of people who are professionally  and personally successful or have things ‘all figured out’. 

 It is basically the skill and the capacity to be robust under conditions of enormous stress and change. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. It is a necessary skill for coping with life’s inevitable obstacles and one of the key ingredients to success. Learning to bounce back and to bounce forward. 

How many times have we felt devastated after receiving the news that a publication has been rejected, a grant has been denied, we have not been promoted as we expected, we do not have positive feedback from our supervisors or we simply do not feel recognized or rewarded despite all the effort and time invested.

How have you felt after any of these events? What was your reaction? 

The workplace is characterized by deadlines, rivalry, organizational change, temporary contracts, uncertainty…success relies on an individual’s capacity to cope and even boom when faced with stress.

Developing emotional resilience is a matter of being aware of our inner potentials. The only thing that differentiates an emotionally resilient and an emotionally fragile person is the way the former chooses to ‘respond’.

Emotional resilience doesn’t mean that stress won’t affect us or losses won’t depress us, it only implies that we still have the vision to stand up right back and the strength to keep moving ahead.

Developing emotional resilience is a matter of being aware of our inner potentials.

Resilience is about how to recharge, not how to endure

An individual’s resilience is mainly influenced by his personal history and environment. According to professor Bessel van der Kolk, from the Boston University School of Medicine, the most significant determinant of resilience, as observed in almost every study of resilience in the last 50 years, is the quality of our close personal relationships, especially with parents and primary caregivers. “How loved you felt as a child is a great predictor of how you manage all kinds of difficult situations later in life,” said Dr. van der Kolk.

It has been seen that resilient people share the following characteristics:


  1. Have a very consolidated values system, they have a clear sense of what is right and what is wrong.
  2. They have a strong sense of “acceptance”. They accept reality, they know and accept that there are things that cannot be changed. They focus their energy on what can be changed.
  3. They are positive people. They are realistic, and focus on the present, they don’t put energy on negative information and possible future events that can not be changed or controlled.
  4. They have a social support system. Usually, resilient people have a concern for others and create long-term relationships. They look for help when required.
  5. They have a clear purpose in life. There is always a purpose that moves us and conditions our decisions and actions. This purpose is highly linked to our values, and responds to the question of why we act in a way of another.
Resilient people share the following characteristics

Here are some tips to develop resilience according to the University of Warwick:

  1. Set boundaries, practice being more assertive. If those around you are placing unrealistic demands or asking too much of you, practice being able to say no. 
  2. Practice acceptance. Stress, failure and changes are a part of living. Acknowledge it, knowing that it comes and goes, and that you can survive by looking after yourself. Reflect on what is in your power to change and what is not.  
  3. Connect with others. Spending time with those we love, accepting their support, and speaking to them about things we find difficult can all help to feel more positive, and keep things in perspective. 
  4. Find balance in your life. We all need to have a balance between routine, necessary and pleasurable tasks. Cultivate hobbies. 
  5. Allow yourself to be imperfect. Making mistakes is part of healthy living. Keep going and don’t be discouraged by ‘getting things wrong’. 
  6. Allow others to be imperfect. All of us are fallible. When you are less critical of yourself, you are able to extend this grace to others, and to allow them to extend the same to you. 
  7. Look after yourself – practice self-care. Exercising, eating healthily, getting enough sleep, being with loved ones, receiving and giving help, having fun, relaxing, having quiet time, doing things you like.
  8. Keep things in perspective. Try to look at day-to-day issues from a broader perspective. 
  9. Be positive. See crises as challenges to overcome. Remind yourself of previous successes. Imagine how you think about and treat loved ones, extend the same kindness to yourself. 
  10. Express Yourself. Tell others how you feel. This can help you to unload and ‘let go’ preoccupying thoughts.  
  11. Notice your warning signs. Tiredness, hopelessness, enjoying things less, loss of appetite etc. Then take steps to look after yourself. Practice self-care, talk to someone and if things continue, look for help.
The exciting thing about resilience is that it is a skill. Like any skill, with practice, resilience can be learned.

What is your level of resilience?

The importance of resilience in the workplace cannot be underestimated! Given that we spend roughly one-third of our day at work, this means that being able to bounce back when presented with the inevitable challenges work presents is a very important issue to consider.

Having the capacity to deal with ongoing stress at work, to adapt efficiently to change, to cope with the threat of job loss, and to handle the pressure of deadlines is important not only for succeeding at work but also contributes to our overall health and wellbeing.

  • When was the last time you put into practice your resilience? 
  • What is your next step to develop and strengthen your resilience?

Remember, resilience is like a muscle that we can train and strength.

We would love to hear your comments. Let us know if you need a partner in your journey to building resilience.


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