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Why is Building Personal Resilience Important?

Most of us will be familiar with the word resilience.  However, as it becomes part of the expanding, every-day, mental health vocabulary so the meaning can blur and empty.  So, what does it mean? What is its component parts and why is building personal resilience important?

The word itself comes from the Latin resilire meaning to rebound or recoil.  Generally these days is refers to the ability to cope.  A person who seems to cope well the stressors, difficulties and challenges that life inevitably throws at us may be said to be resilient.

It’s true that broadly speaking, mental health and resilience are likely to be influenced by what we inherit, our life experiences and our current circumstances, but that is not the whole story.  There is a lot we can do to build our personal resilience. 

So why is resilience important?  I like how therapist and trainer Dr Russ Harris approaches this when he asks, “has anybody got room for a few more difficulties, a few more problems in life?” Not surprisingly, the answer is always “no”. Why? Well, because for most of us, life is difficult enough.

So if we are to engage with this life that we all seem to accept is difficult and challenging, then building personal resilience, the ability to cope, is going to be very useful. In fact more than that, the better our ability to cope the more we are likely to get out of life.

Diagram of overlapping components of resilience
Resilience Components

To build resilience it can be helpful to focus on three areas:

1.      Improve your emotional intelligence – self-awareness, interpersonal skills, empathy, (check out Daniel Goleman)

2.      Improve your ability to think accurately e.g. recognise fact from opinion

3.      Develop an attitude of realistic optimism.  Not pretending that everything is OK when it’s not, but more problem solving, constructive engagement and taking personal responsibility for choices.

Of course, a good place to start with this might be a building resilience taster session and you can do this at

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