The psychology of resilience: 10 strategies for bouncing back from adversity

We all experience adversity at some point in our lives. True, some of us experience it more often than others, but adversity is a constant in our world no matter who we are or where we’re from.

I consider myself lucky because I’m a white male, and so the odds aren’t as stacked against me as they are for other people. 

Nevertheless, I’ve experienced more than my fair share of adversity throughout the years, and I’ve had to find ways to bounce back and to keep moving forward.

In today’s article, I’ll be sharing ten of the strategies that have helped me along the way. Let’s get started.

1) Get back up again

When I was a kid in the 90s, there was a hit song by the band called Chumbawamba that went, “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never going to keep me down.”

Considering it’s a decades-old pop single, it offers up surprisingly good advice for being resilient. If you make a commitment to being more Chumbawamba, no amount of adversity can hold you back. Every time you get knocked down, you get back up.

You become a bowling pin in the alley of life.

2) Have a routine

Bowling pins have a routine – at the end of each round, the pins are reset and they go back to the position they were in before the ball was thrown.

You need to be able to do the same thing, to establish a daily routine that you always go back to. There will always be times when we have to break that routine, and that’s fine. We just need it there so we can return to it.

In my case, I have a writing and productivity routine that I always return to, no matter what happens. When I had an unexpected stay in hospital recently, I wasn’t worried about bouncing back because I knew that as soon as I was discharged, I’d be able to return to my routine.

3) Get out of the house

Okay, so going to the hospital isn’t an ideal way to get out of the house, but bear with me here.

The idea is that if we’re dealing with adversity, the worst thing we can do is to sit at home in our rooms, ruminating (geddit?) about everything that’s gone wrong.

That’s why getting out of the house can be an excellent way to bounce back from adversity and to demonstrate resilience. It can help you to put things into perspective, and it can’t hurt to get out in nature and to enjoy the benefits it can offer to your health and well-being.

4) Learn from your mistakes

I like to get out of the house by going for a walk through the woods, and I use that time to think about the mistakes I’ve made and the ways in which I can learn from them.

We all make mistakes, but perhaps the biggest mistake of all is to treat mistakes as failures, rather than the learning opportunities that they are.

I find that learning from my mistakes is particularly valuable when it comes to my relationships with other people. 

For example, if I do or say something that upsets my girlfriend, I like to understand why it upset her, why I thought it was a good idea and what I can do to avoid upsetting her in the future.

5) Don’t make excuses

zodiac signs who prefer intellectual conversation over small talk The psychology of resilience: 10 strategies for bouncing back from adversity

Back in the early days of my relationship, I used to make excuses for my behavior and to use them as a way to deflect blame. Now that I’ve learned from my mistakes, I realize that’s an unhealthy way of coping with conflict.

When you come up against adversity, the sad fact is that no one cares about your excuses. If you fail your driving test, you can’t convince the examiner to give you a pass because your parents were arguing the night before and you didn’t get much sleep.

So this tip goes hand-in-hand with the last one. Instead of making excuses, learn from and acknowledge your mistakes. You’d be surprised by how much that can boost your resilience.

6) Stay disciplined

No matter how determined you are to learn from your mistakes and to avoid excuses, you’ll still find yourself occasionally slipping into back habits.

And, going back to that Chumbawamba song, while it’s easy to say you’ll get back up again when you get knocked down, you’ll start to get tired after a while.

That’s why it’s so important for you to stay disciplined and to hold yourself responsible for your behavior. If you’re disciplined, it becomes much easier to remain resilient and to bounce back from any adversity that life decides to throw at you.

7) Get a mentor

One way to stay disciplined is to find a mentor who can work closely with you and who can help to hold you responsible.

Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. Business people love having mentors, especially when they’re trying to launch a business or build a brand. I’ve never really used them for business, but they’re great for your personal life.

If you’re going through a hard time, try to find someone who’s been there before you and come out of the other side. I find this particularly useful if you find a mentor who can help you come to terms with any mental health conditions that you suffer from.

8) Read about people who’ve gone through adversity

If you can’t get a mentor, the next best thing is to read about people who inspire you and who have been through the same kind of adversity as you.

Here, you can go with either household names or just strangers on the internet who are opening up to the world. 

In my case, I suffer from anxiety disorder, and there’s no shortage of celebrities out there who’ve talked about how they overcame anxiety to get to where they are today.

At the same time, there are support forums for anxiety sufferers where I can read real stories by real people just like me. There are also books that are specifically designed to help people to come to terms with their anxiety.

9) Be social and open to new experiences

Speaking of anxiety, I found that the best way for me to overcome it was to put myself in positions that made me uncomfortable. For example, I started playing at open mic nights.

The key is to approach it like exposure therapy and to make sure that you’re not trying to run before you can walk. 

If the adversity that you’re trying to overcome is a bad relationship, it might not make sense to start dating right away, but perhaps you could hang out with friends who are couples.

It’s also a good idea to be open to new experiences in whatever form that takes. For example, I have a friend who lost her parents and who found that joining an archery club helped her to make new friends and to overcome the adversity she was facing.

10) Take up fitness

Archery is one way to do this, but it can also be one of the more expensive. Fitness is fitness, and so anything you can do to get your body moving is a good idea.

If money is a concern, skip the expensive classes and take up walking or running. Joining a gym is a good idea if you think you’re going to get your money’s worth, but don’t make the mistake of signing up for an annual membership and never going again.

The funny thing about fitness is that it goes hand-in-hand with healthy eating as one of those clichés that doctors always prescribe to every patient, no matter what illness they’re suffering from.

But there’s a reason for that: it works. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll find that it boosts your resilience and helps you bounce back from any adversity that life throws your way.

So what are you waiting for? Go work out!

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Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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