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Therapists Spill: How To Strengthen Your Resilience

Practice acceptance.

According to Jeffrey Sumber, M.A., a psychotherapist, author and teacher, resilience is linked to acceptance. “When I accept that things, people and emotions come and go, it allows me to bend like the reed in the wind, and I am a part of the world not a person whom the world is acting upon.” This is the opposite of believing that the world is a bad place that does bad things to you, he said.

Acceptance helps you stay in the present, Marter said. This helps you separate from your ego and fear and “operate from your authentic self, or essence. When you connect with your essence, you are connected with a power greater than yourself.” Your higher power may be God, “the universe, nature or the life force that connects us all.”

Know your strengths.

Sometimes, we make tough times even tougher by questioning whether we have the strength to manage these stressors, Duffy said. But “you can have a slew of weaknesses that a few marked, acknowledged strengths can overcome.”

The key is to know your strengths. Then, “you can lean into them during [difficult] times, whether they be slight or profound.” Knowing your strengths gives you the faith and confidence to endure hard times, he said.

Understand that failure also is key.

Howes worked with a man who was terrified of rejection, particularly when making friends at his new college. So he created a goal to ask someone to coffee every day for 14 days.

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According to Howes, he was surprised to discover that: “the sting of rejection was not nearly as bad as he imagined, and nearly half of the people agreed to go to coffee, three of whom became good friends.”

Doing this experiment also bolstered his resilience. And, importantly, it taught him that “the ‘failures’ were just as important as the ‘successes.’”

Seek help.

Resilience isn’t about going it alone. It also means knowing when it’s best to ask for help. In fact, as Howes said, “A support system of loved ones and mentors also helps, as resilience is best nurtured in the context of relationships.”

During her difficult times, Hibbert relied on her “husband, family and friends [along with] counseling, massage and medication as I needed it.”

“Access support from your higher power and those who love you to gain trust, inner peace and resilience,” Marter added.

Focus on self-care.

Self-care is “key to a resilient response to life’s challenges,” said Hibbert, also author of the forthcoming memoir This Is How We Grow and an expert in women’s mental health, postpartum issues and parenting. This includes getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising and carving out time for yourself to do whatever you need, such as hiking, taking a bath and talking to a friend, she said.

Don’t compare your resilience to anyone else’s.

This applies especially to shared experiences, Serani said. “Measuring your recovery speed against someone else who’s been through the same event can leave you feeling inadequate if you’re lagging behind or superhuman if you’ve left them in the wind.” Either way, focus on your own healing.

Bouncing back from a difficult time can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, resilience isn’t something you either have or don’t. It’s a series of steps and habits, which you can cultivate, one day at a time.

Therapists Spill: How To Strengthen Your Resilience

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Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor and regular contributor at Psych Central. Her Master's degree is in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University. In addition to writing about mental disorders, she blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her Psych Central blog, Weightless.

APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). Therapists Spill: How To Strengthen Your Resilience. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 3, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Oct 2018
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