Building Resilience

There is significant research and literature that suggests we can develop our resilience, that it can be increased through training. For example, one trait of resilience can be enhanced by learning to balance the positive and negative emotions and feelings generated by the positive and negative experiences in our lives. Put simply, in order to cope with the negative events in our lives we need to be bolstered by the experiences of the positive events. By recalling the feelings and emotions that surrounded the positive moments in our lives we are able to rely on these when confronted by the stress, anxiety and fear that comes with negative life events. When we do this, we are building our resilience and becoming more self-reliant.

Sounds straight forward but this practice is actually tougher than one might expect. The reason is we as human beings are hard-wired to focus on the negative. Even though the research shows that we actually experience three times as many positive events in our lives as we do negative ones, the majority of our focus and mental energy is expended on the negative things that happen to us. The positive things can easily melt into the background of our daily lives and we can start taking them for granted.  While we have an inherent evolutionary bias to overcome, for example, we as a species wouldn’t have survived long if we had ignored dangerous wild animals to focus on the beautiful flowers, many of us also focus on external negatives as protective devices for own sense of self. After all, it appears a short cut to feeling better about yourself is to focus on the detriments of another, even though we know this actually harmful and a form of self-sabotage. The simple reality is most of us spend far too much time and energy on the things that deplete us rather than the things than build us and this is harmful to our resilience levels. 

So here is a quick three-minute exercise.

  • Think about a positive life experience you have had. It can be anything from a recent compliment from a work colleague to finishing a tough workout or a hug from a loved one. If you are stuck have a look around you, we often capture these moments with physical mementos like photographs, medals, souvenirs and art.
  • Now close your eyes and remember how that felt, what you were thinking about at the time, how your heart was beating, the joy and calm, the sense of accomplishment and the feeling of satisfaction.
  • Keep your eyes closed and take ten full deep breaths thinking only about how that positive experience felt.
  • Now open your eyes; those feelings are your indicators of what is meaningful and important to your life.

Current challenges and stresses can be balanced against them and we need to remember the positive event is the one worthy of our time and attention, not the negative ones. Find moments in your day to revisit a positive event, especially if you’re becoming overwhelmed with negative ones, and build your resilience.

We here at LAPBC are trying to remember a positive event each day to help us deal with the negatives of the COVID-19 experience. We are always available to help at 604-685-2171 or 1-888-685-2171 or sam@lapbc.com.


Sam Lupton
Sam is an Associate Director and joined LAP in 2020.