Resilience: 10 Steps to Finding Your Fighting Spirit


Some people are born fighters, those who know how to kick butt no matter what stands in their way. Others need to learn how to find their fighting spirit in order to knock down obstacles and barriers or to come back from a devastating event, situation or experience.

Psychological resilience is defined as “an individual’s ability to successfully adapt to life tasks in the face of social disadvantage or highly adverse conditions.”

Everybody deals with setbacks and negative situations in various ways. Some people dwell on a problem until they make themselves physically sick. Others turn to drugs or alcohol or sex. Some people have violent outburst – cursing, throwing things, striking loved ones, or other dangerous behaviors. Unhealthy coping mechanisms to life’s challenges only make things worse and the road to recovery much more difficult and longer.

Anyone who has resilience does feel the same pain, grief, hurt, or disappointment as someone who lacks resilience. They may even give themselves a brief period of time to be sad, upset, or pissed off.  However, resilient people do have a different mental mindset. They know shit happens. Whether they are dealing with a death of a loved one, loss of a job, a divorce, medical issues, financial problems, violence like assault or a terrorist attack, their attitude and outlook puts them in a position to deal with their feelings in a productive way and as a result they bounce back sooner.

Bottom line, resilience means a person has developed proper coping techniques when faced with difficult times or situations. Due to their optimistic attitude, mental toughness, emotional strength, or faith and belief system, they have the ability to overcome whatever situation they are going through and resume functioning in healthy and productive ways.

Can Resilience Be Learned?

Two people can be dealing with the same situation, but they’ll handle the problem in two different ways. There are those people, like the father whose son was killed by a drunk driver and he went on start a support group for other parents who had lost children to those who drink and drive, or the person who lost her job and then started her own business, or the woman who couldn’t have children and instead she adopts, or the veteran who lost a leg in the war, but he continues to climb mountains because that’s what he loves to do. These people exhibit resilience. They will grow after failure or setbacks or hardships. They will view what has happened to them as a learning experience or an opportunity to grow to be a better person. People like these will succeed and excel despite dealing with difficult, or even horrific circumstances.

On the other hand, you can have the same people experience what was mentioned about and they will collapse, be quick to crumble under pressure and adversity, and go into a downward spiral of depression, bitterness and despair. They can remain that way for weeks, months, or even years.

Many people think resilient people are born that way because it’s in their DNA.  Others, believe people acquire it as they go through like and they experience different things.  Then you have religious folks who believe resilience is a part of their faith. Many psychologists, however, say resilience can be taught.

Through coaching and/or education behaviors could be adjusted and attitudes shifted and you can become a person who has a high level of resilience.

Aristotle said: “There is nothing good or bad in this world, it’s only the mind that makes it so.”


For people lacking resilience there are ways to strengthen your ability to find your fighting spirit.

 10 Steps to Finding Your Fighting Spirit

1) Self Talk

Every thought you have about yourself, your life, the people in your life, and the world and how you see it is a reflection of how you feel about yourself. Remember you’re listening to you. Make those words and thoughts positive and uplifting, not negative and despairing. Yes, it may sound corny, but see the glass half full, not half empty.

2) Look In The Mirror and See a Survivor, Not a Victim

If you have dealt with any hardships, obstacles, challenges, setbacks, failures, tragedies, etc., and who hasn’t, you might want to wallow in a bowl of despair, feel like the world is out to get you, or life isn’t fair, but that is the talk of a victim. See Step #1. It is vital to look in the mirror and see a survivor. Bad things are going to happen to you, that’s an inevitable part of life. See yourself as the person who took a beating, but who got up every time you got knock down. You got through it. You dug down deep, pulled yourself up by the bootstraps and you survived. That makes you no victim.

3) Take Control Over Your Life

It is easy to blame other people or outside elements for what is going wrong in your life. So much crap may have happened to you that you have a valid point to be pissed at life, but then you would lose control over your own life.  No matter what the situation, you control how you will deal with it and how you will allow it to affect your life.

4)  Self-Esteem Helps To Alleviate Stress and Builds Resilience

Your self-esteem may take a nose dive after something bad happens to you. If you lose a job you may think you weren’t good enough in that role. If you can’t find a good man or woman to love you may think you’re not smart or attractive. Psychologists have found during research that self-esteem is important when it comes to coping with stress and recovering from difficult incidents. No matter what is happening in your life, remember Step #1. Also, think about all the great qualities you do have. Look at what you have accomplished so far in life. Remind yourself that you are a work in process and you continue to get better each and every day.

5) Find a Sense of Purpose in Your Life

When all seems lost and life is coming at you full force, find a sense of purpose in your life. It isn’t all about you and what you’re going through because there are so many people who have it worse off than you. Take your anger, pain, or frustration and use it for good by helping others. Whether that’s mentoring someone who is in need or reading to the blind, find something to do that gives you joy and a sense of purpose. Helping others lets you see just how good you got it. Be grateful.

6) Get A Good Support System

When life hits you hard no one can come through it alone. Surround yourself with loving, caring and supportive people who have your best interest at heart. It is also good to have a group of people in your life you can confide in and get things off your chest. No, those people can’t make your problems go away, but you will get the support you need and encouraging feedback. They may also have suggestions on how you can deal with the issues in your life.

7) You have two choices being optimistic or pessimistic

Your attitude is of the utmost importance when it comes to having resilience. If you sit around whining, crying, bitching, and moaning about things that go wrong in your life, that will keep you in a state of despair. Without hope that things will get better, resilience cannot bloom. Being pessimistic about what has happened to you in life – someone who has done you wrong, how you can’t catch a break, why life is so unfair -these thoughts will only keep you miserable and others around you. On the other hand, if you work to stay optimistic during difficult times, and focus on the good things you do have going on in your life, that positive and hopeful attitude will help you get through any dark period faster.

8) Love Yourself

When people are stressed or under extreme pressure, they tend to neglect their own needs and health. Some people lose their appetite or they eat too much ice cream, cake and cookies or other unhealthy food, they turn to alcohol, they don’t get enough sleep, they stop exercising. Make time for you and doing the things you love, despite what drama and craziness is going on in your life. Love yourself by doing something special just for you, like a day at a spa, or a mini vacation, or buying a new article of clothing. Do things that will lift your spirits. By loving yourself, and caring for your needs, you will be in a better position to face adversity and life’s challenges.

9) Be Proactive

There is no magic pill you can take to make all the bad things go away or go back in time to prevent something. So instead of wallowing in self-pity, start working on finding ways to solve a problem or issue. Each day you should be working on ways to make the situation better, even if those are baby steps. The solution most likely will not be fast or simple, but you’re planning your next steps and eventually your life will shift and change for the better.

10) Get Help

When life gets so overwhelming you can’t think straight you may need to get help. There are a variety of ways to do this from joining a support group to seeing a psychologist. It takes time to heal and sometimes going to a trained professional will help you get better much faster. In the end you will survive and thrive and that’s what resilience is all about.


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