Becoming The Best U: Improving your resiliency

By Nancy Plummer, Columnist, The Times

Question: I lost my job during Covid and since then I can’t seem to pull myself out of my funk. Other friends of mine lost their job too, but they seem to have dealt with it just fine. Heck, one of my friends decided to start her own company after getting fired from her last job. She’s loving life! What’s wrong with me? What do they have that I don’t?

Bess – Ardmore, PA

Answer: Nothing is wrong with you Bess. What you’re describing is resiliency. Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from defeat or difficult moments. In other words, people who are resilient are less likely to complain or give up, and instead adapt to a new situation and work quickly to solve the matter. Resilient people can be described as tough, adaptable, and quick to bounce back.

We all want to have more resiliency. The good news is that resiliency can be taught.

Resiliency is a fascinating subject, one that is being studied by psychologists near and far. The question is whether resiliency is innate or can we teach resiliency to everyone from soldiers, business people, parents, and children alike? And if so, how? 

Resiliency takes on many types: emotional, physical, social, and mental. Where one person may be mentally resilient, they may be prone to giving up quickly when faced with a physical task such as a 5K run.

Yet, there’s more to determining if someone is resilient, as Martin E.P. Seligman wrote in his article, “Building Resiliency,” in The Harvard Review. As Seligman found in his thirty years of research, even when there is the same type of failure, say being fired, there are very different results.

There’s the one who gets fired and blames it on himself, sinks into a deep depression, and gives up entirely. Then there’s another who gets fired, then pivots quickly and focuses on getting another- perhaps better -job than the one he had. Why? Because he didn’t take getting fired personally. He had the confidence to not give up. He’s considered resilient. What was the difference between those that got depressed and those that didn’t? Seligman, called “the father of positive psychology” says it’s OPTIMISM.

But, interestingly, there’s one more type that doesn’t just show resilience; it reveals growth. These are people who experience severe trauma. They too, can suffer deep depression, anxiety, and even PTSD, but around a year later, they’ve experienced post-traumatic growth. They’ve worked through their failure and adapted to change their life for the better. How did they do it? To paraphrase Nietzsche, “What doesn’t kill them makes them stronger

So, here are a few tips to improving your resiliency.


  1. Build and maintain positive relationships with friends, family, and perhaps a spiritual community.
  2. Get involved and help others.
  3. Try to maintain a daily routine. It may not be easy, but even getting to bed at a certain hour each night can help.
  4. Set achievable goals that give you something to look forward to and add meaning to your life.
  5. Make time to relax and unwind.
  6. Practice being grateful and positive. Remember, it’s a choice and words are powerful.
  7. Be willing to examine your life, then adapt and develop new strategies. Writing in a daily journal may help.
  8. Put your oxygen mask on first. Take good care of yourself and practice good boundaries. Don’t be afraid to say no.
  9. Take action! Do something to help your situation, rather than worrying about it. Remember that one pivot may make the difference!
  10. Be willing to accept that change is inevitable. Nothing in nature is static.


Please remember that life is a journey and full of failures. But, as Confucius so wisely stated, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Good luck Bess!



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