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When something goes wrong, do you tend to bounce back or fall apart?

The ability to “bounce back” brings to mind the popular catchphrase, “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.”  It was used in advertising several lines of children’s roly-poly toys during the 1970’s (yes, I had them!).  No matter what knocked them over, these toy figures would immediately bounce back upright.

resilience, resilient, stress management, executive coaching, positive leadership

Resilient people know how bounce back and recover quickly from adversity and challenges. The word resilience has its origin in the Latin word resilire, which means to “spring back” or return to a prior position. Resilience is something any of us can develop – we just need to learn how. If you aren’t as resilient as you’d like to be, you can develop skills to become more resilient.

Keys to Bouncing Back

“Bounce Back” can be an acronym for remembering some of the foundational principles of resilience:

B Bad times don’t last, and things always get better. Resilient people tend to see the effects of adversity as temporary rather than permanent.

O Other people can help if you talk to them. Make strong connections and build your social support network. While it may sound trivial, surrounding yourself with positive people really does help. Optimism, like pessimism, is infectious because of mirror neurons firing within your brain.

U Unhelpful thinking makes you more upset. Stop negative self-talk in its tracks. The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. The past is there to learn from, not to dwell on. Learn how to renew your mind daily.

N Nobody is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Rarely do we all do things right the first time. Be kind to yourself. Create opportunities for your body to rest and recover from stress – just as you would rest your muscles after a hard workout.

C Choose your response. While you can’t always stop negative events from occurring, you are free to choose how you respond. You can choose to view change as a challenge to be overcome or a threat.  You can choose to concentrate on the good things in life. Psychologists confirm that gratitude is the key to living life well. It lessens anxiety and reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, by 23%.

E Expect some challenges and change. They are a normal part of life. Anticipate change as a natural occurrence; be mentally prepared for what could possibly happen. Remain calm and logical to think critically and find a solution. Maintain your composure by regulating your emotions and controlling your flight-or-fight response when facing a crisis.


B Blame fairly. While we have a tendency to blame ourselves for life’s setbacks, negative events are usually caused by a combination of things. How much of what happened was due to your own choices/behaviors, to other’s choices/behaviors, and to bad luck or circumstances? Try not to personalize every difficult situation or ruminate about what you could have done differently.

A Accept what you can’t change; try to change what you can. Believe that you are fully capable of dealing with change and making something positive happen from it.

C Catastrophizing (believing the worst possible scenario) exaggerates your worries. Avoid statements like “always,” “never,” and “worst” which inflate the perceived frequency or severity of an event. Try to avoid blowing events out of proportion. Use cognitive restructuring for realistic and healthy optimism.

K Keep things in perspective. Even the worst moment in life is but one moment. And it’s only part of your life. Reframe your struggles as an opportunity for post-traumatic growth. There can be real truth in the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”


Life can bring all kinds of stressors, including divorce, the death of a loved one, relentless job and family demands, or a career setback.  Unfortunately, most people don’t have the coping skills they need to meet these challenges.

*** Surprises are the new normal; resilience is the new skill. ***

Fifty years of research in the psychological sciences has given us a good grasp of what makes someone RESILIENT. Resilience is a skill that allows you to cope with challenges with greater clarity and inner strength. Resilient people not only survive after a setback, they come back stronger and wiser.

Fortunately, we now know that resilience can be developed. Think of resilience as an emotional muscle that can be strengthened at any time. There are specific action steps you can take to speed up your emotional recovery in times of stress.


  • understand what resilience is
  • develop skills to create a resilient mindset
  • manage anxiety, fear, and focus when you’re in the “eye of the storm”
  • face challenges with more clarity and positivity
  • increase your self-awareness to control over-thinking and worry
  • overcome obstacles and find peace despite stress and chaos
  • enhance your life purpose, satisfaction, and success

Discover how to boost your own resilience here:

Adapted from:  Noble and McGrath, 2006.

Dr. Stefani Yorges

I am a psychologist and professional leadership coach. I partner with people who want to rise to their full potential so they can have an increasingly greater impact on others.

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