Bounce Back: The Art of Building Resilience

Adversity has a way of coming into our lives when we least expect it. True, sometimes we see it coming, but more often than not, it lands in our life and leaves us reeling.

Once we are hit by one of life’s challenges, we are left with the sometimes daunting task of getting ourselves balanced again. We can help ourselves strengthen this ability long before we even get knocked sideways. Attending to some basic capacities as we move through our daily lives gives us the reserves we need to bounce back from whatever life throws our way.

  • Emotions can be messy. Not many people enjoy hanging out with sorrow, anger, or pain. However, when we learn to become friends, or at least acquaintances with our full range of emotions,we are better equipped to handle them when they get much stronger and threaten to unmoor us from our stable base. We do this by being present with them when they show up. Name them, notice the sensations that accompany them, and watch, that when they are allowed, they can move through our body in less than two minutes. Staying with the sensation, without making up a story about it will help it move through you in a healthy way.

In addition to the challenging emotions, building our positive emotional capacity gives us a valuable amount of reserves. Since we are wired to hold on to ‘negative’ emotions, we have to practice cultivating our experience of positive emotions such as gratitude, awe, interest, and play. Seeking opportunities to welcome these emotions and to savor them and how we experience them will strengthen their presence. As we keep ourselves open to experiencing these emotions, we become better able to see our options for resolving any kind of situation.

  • Self-Care. Taking care of ourselves often falls to the bottom of of our to-do list. We forget to eat, or grab a bite while driving or binge-watching our latest series, we don’t get enough sleep, and we rush from one thing to the next, often not letting ourselves slow down for a breath. So while self-care can feel like one more thing to get to, it is a crucial part of building our physical, mental, and emotional resources. You can think of your ability to be resilient, to bounce back, as if it were a bank account; each time you do even the smallest act of self-care, it makes a deposit into that account. You’ll want that to draw from when adversity strikes.


  • Practice Presence. Our culture does not value being present. We are drawn into media that takes us to various events happening around the world, or social media, where what is happening a few blocks away pulls us out of our own ability to be present. When we are fully present, and this does take practice, we create the ability to respond to whatever happens in our life rather than react, or over-react.