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The Powerful Impact Of Building Resilience – How To Stand Tall In The Face Of Adversity

Written by: Andrea Spyros, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Being able to adapt in the face of adversity comes to each of us in unique ways. Each experience we go through shapes how we handle the trauma and stress that is inevitable in life. True resilience isn’t determined by how smooth or bumpy your path is but by your ability to not be defined by that path. You have the choice in every instant of how you will handle the situation or whether or not you will be defined by it. Sometimes this is more clear, other times it can feel fuzzy. Some days are easier than others, and some moments are more challenging to move through, but your growth and determination are built by those choices. Most people think resilience is the ability to flow through the unexpected with grace and ease when challenging circumstances arise. But resilience is also the ability to move through challenging circumstances in the messiest of ways still coming out the other side with greater wisdom and more experience to handle the next challenge.

Resilience is:

  1. Staying the course when life becomes turbulent

  2. Preparing the course for when life becomes turbulent

  3. Handling challenges with more grace and ease

It’s easy to look at a successful person and see only the shiny exterior of someone who has it all. You don’t see the years of work, loss, sacrifice, and labor that went into making it so. When we get caught in this success ideal, we trick ourselves into believing resilience means that nothing bad ever happens to them or they just aren’t faced with the same adversity, or that they can pick themselves up and willpower through it better than you.

The truth is the resilient don’t handle everything easily and sometimes it’s messy and it feels bad, but ultimately, they find their way through it. Not because they have a road map, but because they have a process and are willing to sit with the messy stuff. They are willing to figure out what needs to be done to move beyond the current challenges in their lives. You can do that, too.

It may look like they have no challenges, but that’s because you don’t see the inside. The nights of crying on the carpet or the mornings that feel like torture to get out of bed. You only see the outward presence. You see the strong, successful person who seems to have this life thing figured out.

It can be easy to perpetuate this idea that “they” know something you don’t, that “they” can do things you can’t. This sets up an unrealistic expectation of resilience and how to move through challenges. This also keeps us safe from growing through our own struggles. Choosing to expand your capacity towards adversity leads to higher levels of resilience. Preparing for unexpected life circumstances helps you to swerve and weave through all of life’s challenges with ease.

  • You get to choose what this is for you.

  • You get to choose what this looks like.

  • You get to choose what recharges you.

And you can create a Tiny Habit® Recipe around that.

When an unexpected moment of frustration comes over you, you can, in the moment, take a deep breath, put on your favorite song, or go for a walk. Anything! Whatever you can do to channel that frustration so you don't react in a way you might regret.

Self-compassion Practices

It’s messy coming back from something that let you down. It takes compassion to let go of the way you thought your life would look. And learning to handle emotional distress is a part of building strong resilience. No one said it would be easy, that’s why it’s important to grant yourself some compassion along the way. A great Tiny Habit Recipe for that is: After I notice I’m being hard on myself; I will take a moment for self-compassion. Dr. Kristen Neff has some great self-compassion practices.

Also, be mindful of how the other Pillars of Alignment are working in your life. Especially, with respect to your body. Address these areas as they often affect your ability to handle change:

  • Nutrition

  • Movement

  • Sleep

  • Routine

These examples expand your capacity to handle challenges.

  • Nutrition keeps your body healthy

  • Movement Keeps you from getting stuck

  • Sleep keeps the mind health

  • Routine keeps you on schedule

The Process is Progress

Determining whether or not you are resilient can be a challenge especially when you are unrealistically expecting yourself to handle every challenge without breaking your stride or breaking down in tears or anger. Remember, the process IS progress. You can feel successful by completing your daily routine, completing the basics you know work for you, and the things that set you up for success. It doesn’t have to be hard, just doing small steps every day slowly builds resilience and expands your capacity to handle challenges.

You Will Act Instead of React

Every time you can recognize that you are holding steady through the storm is a win. Every time you shift your state from tears or rage toward peace and calm is a win. Small wins are still won. You have put in place the steps to help you be resilient and you are reaping the rewards. Tiny Habit Recipes set into your routine help you get through the challenges.

In the moment of uncertainty, everything is amplified! It all seems like too much and it’s hard to not react. The question becomes: How to catch yourself being angry and allow it to come through in a healthy way.

Create Tiny Habit Recipes:

  • After I get an email with bad news, I will remind myself I can do hard things.

  • After I am triggered, I will take 3 deep breaths.

  • After I feel defeated, I will hug myself.

It’s also important to allow yourself to feel your emotions without being afraid you will be stuck in them. You are not that emotion, after all, you are someone feeling that emotion and it will pass. Honor yourself, even if that means making a date and time to just feel that.

For instance, if you get an upsetting phone call right before a coaching session or a big meeting, you can’t feel those hard emotions right then, but if you can make a plan with yourself to have those feelings: After I finish the meeting, I will walk outside and call my friend. Or: After I walk in my front door, I will get into my pajamas and stream my favorite show. This gives your nervous system a chance to process so you don’t displace that energy. Mentally or physically put it aside and acknowledge you will deal with it later.

Creating a Pearl Habit

We talk a lot about Tiny Habits, but not much about Pearl Habits. So, what is a Pearl Habit and why does it apply here?

Think about an oyster. An oyster creates a pearl out of the sand. This natural beauty is born out of irritation. A Pearl Habit is a Tiny Habit Recipe built around irritation.

For instance:

Someone in your house smacks their lips when they eat oatmeal in the morning.

Your Pearl Habit is to take a breath and remind yourself of all the reasons you love this person. Your Pearl Habit is:

After I hear my partner smacking their lips while they eat, I will remind myself of one loving thing they do for me.

Resilience helps overcome irritations. Pearl Habits are great because they turn them into a pearl. Done consistently they can change your feelings about the situation and build greater resilience.

The goal here is to find a solution to help you be resilient in the face of adversity.

Looking for a speaker for your next event? Want to help your team become more resilient?

Here’s what clients have to say:

Andrea has the ability to explain complex ideas, provide actionable advice and think on her feet to answer audience questions. Annette Richmond, Career Intelligence

Contact Andrea to learn more about my programs. Check out her website here.

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Andrea Spyros, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Andrea Spyros shows leaders, teams, and organizations how to optimize their efforts and get tangible results quickly and easily. Trained by Stanford behavior scientist and New York Times best-selling author of Tiny Habits, BJ Fogg, she combines emotional intelligence and spiritual wisdom with a proven system backed by science. Her keynotes and workshops marry innovation with practical actionable steps so organizations can easily navigate change and create products, services and systems that work for all stakeholders.



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