Resilience: How to Thrive During Life’s Worst Storms

November 8, 2023

Resilience is not an innate trait, but rather a skill that can be developed. Seeing the good in your life can be the key to life’s joy.

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Resilience is the ability to bounce back from life’s challenges. And if you’re like me,  you do not have it in heaps, but you CAN develop it. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from life’s challenges. And if you’re like me,  you do not have it in heaps, but you CAN develop it!

Neuroplasticity and our Capacity

Neurologically, resilience involves the brain’s ability to adapt and rewire itself, a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. Psychologically, it hinges on our capacity to manage stress and emotions effectively.

Researchers have found that practicing resilience can stimulate the release of neurochemicals like serotonin and dopamine, which enhance our ability to cope with stress and make us feel oh so good! And feeling good is addictive right?!

There are few topics as near and dear to my heart as building resilience. Why? Because resilience is literally at the foundation of every other success I have ever had. I don’t think anyone in this world can be successful and happy without this skill. Why? Because none of us are immune to life’s problems, big and small.

No matter how smart, rich, spiritual or talented you may be, without resilience, it’s just a matter of time before something knocks you off your game right? All of us are knocked down in life by things that are totally out of our control. Just when we think we have things moving in the right direction along comes a natural disaster or a man made one! 

The Importance of Building Resilience

I personally have benefited more from building resilience than literally any other skill I’ve ever learned in my entire life. Without the ability to adapt and rewire my brain I would have never been able to accomplish the things I’m most proud of, like becoming a doctor, pivoting into a business owner, raising my family, or developing the app I’m currently working on for IBD sufferers. 

What’s clear to me is that some people do have a leg up with this skill. I wonder if that is because their parents and perhaps their parents before them highly valued the ability to manage stress and emotions effectively. And they, in turn, were able to teach their own children to think in a way that helps them solve problems.

It may also be because some families are hit harder than others with traumas. Unfortunately trauma has a way of delivering such a striking blow that we can lose our ability to cope. Sometimes generations of families have faced one trauma after another and once dysfunction sets in, we see a sort of copy and paste of dysfunctional thinking. If you feel like you got the raw end of the deal here, don’t give up! I promise that people can and do learn resilience. You are not cursed to be stuck in that loop of doom and gloom forever.

Studies have shown that resilience is not an innate trait, but rather a dynamic quality that can be developed through various methods.

One key aspect is neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to adapt and rewire itself in response to experiences. By exposing yourself to new experiences and actively seeking out challenges, you stimulate neural connections, making your brain more adaptable and resilient.

A Proven Resilience Strategy

One research-backed strategy I really like is “Cognitive Restructuring.” This technique involves identifying and challenging negative thought patterns, a process that can reshape neural pathways.

Studies have shown that individuals who practice cognitive restructuring exhibit reduced stress responses and improved mental well-being. A good example of this can be reframing how we look at resting. Are you really being lazy or are you taking some time to fill your cup, so you have something to pour from? The language we use to speak to ourselves is incredibly powerful. Instead of saying, “I’m feeling lazy today”. Try saying things like “I am taking time for myself to feel recharged for later” or “I am giving my body and mind time to reset”. 

Techniques to Build Resilience

There’s no doubt that research backs up the significance of positive psychology in building resilience. Journaling, mindfulness meditation, and developing a growth mindset have also been linked to building emotional resilience. 

If you’re like lots of people, you might feel as if you need a little more than these other techniques can provide. There is a lot of science showing that we can benefit tremendously from processing suppressed emotions, in building resilience. 

If that sounds like something you need, you may want to try breath-work, it’s one of my favorite tools for managing daily stress and dealing with grief, sadness and anger. Many people have been really impressed with the results of conscious connected breathing/breath-work. It helps to free up the space and energy needed to work on cognitive restructuring and other techniques I mentioned above.

When you have more mental space and energy, your brain can more easily adapt and rewire itself to manage stress and emotions more effectively. Sound interesting?

Give it a try by clicking here and trying out a free session with Josh Connally, my favorite facilitator.

Everyone Faces Adversity

Life is a roller coaster. And sometimes we get hit hard with a downward spiral. So we all need to be resilient to survive and be healthy both mentally and emotionally. Instead of trying to avoid stress, which is impossible anyway, try seeing yourself just as you are. A person that needs and deserves practical coping mechanisms like exercise, adequate sleep, breathwork and social support, to fortify your emotional resilience.These techniques have a solid foundation in neuroscience and promote the release of mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain (love) and build your psychological endurance.

I can’t stress enough how I want you thrive in the face of adversity.

Nothing would make me happier to find out you embarked on a journey of self-discovery and growth, building your resilience. Your capacity for resilience is a valuable asset that can be honed and strengthened over time. These techniques can help you reframe adversity as an opportunity for personal growth and development, ultimately strengthening your ability to bounce back from setbacks.

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I'm Dr. Leybelis

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