Boosting Resiliency

Reviewed Mar 9, 2023


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Two mental health experts discuss what resilience is and offer tips how to become more resilient.

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Welcome to another episode of our wellness podcast. I’m Mark DeFee and with me is KC Schroder. We're both licensed therapists who focus on workplace mental health.

We're also pretty good friends, so we're gonna have a little bit of fun. Maybe tell some stories, but most importantly, we're gonna give you some great information to help you develop both personally and professionally. Does that sound good? All right! Let's dive in!

So, KC, today we are talking about one of my favorite topics and that is, uh, resiliency.

And, studying how do we get better after we've experienced difficult times. And I know you and I have talked about this that there are so many different definitions out there and we always hear people say:

“It's bouncing back and I don't know If it's just, uh, the clinician in me or, you know, being philosophical” but I don't like that because I don't think we bounce back. I think every experience in our life changes us and so we're never going back to who we were before. And so, I wanted to introduce a new definition that I really enjoy and wanted to get your thoughts on. And it says: “resiliency is responding adaptively and resolutely to tough times and emerging from them stronger, wiser, and more capable.”

What do you think?

I really, I really like that definition. Like you pointed out, resiliency is not bouncing back necessarily because our experiences change us. That definition that you just kind of talked about for resiliency really indicates that when we go through tough times, we get stronger. We are not only strong when we come out the other end of them, but we become stronger than we were before they happened. We learn, we grow, we get stronger. And I think that is resiliency, in a nutshell.

I would add on to that, we get stronger when we focus on the right things.

Mmm yeah, that’s a good point.

Difficult times can, if we are not in the right mindset, beat us down.


We get stronger when we know how to move past it. And have the skills to do it. And that’s really kind of what we were talking about today is: what factors really go into resiliency? I know we hear that topic so often or that term, and I think we all know what it means but, what actually goes into it?

And so, we chose a few of the different factors associated with resiliency.

And, KC, why don't you, uh, start us off with what stood out to you.

Well, I’m gonna go back to something that I like to talk about a lot. People might be actually sick of me talking about, but it's introspection.

Introspection, I believe, is one of the key things to make you be a more resilient person because we truly cannot learn. We truly cannot get stronger, we truly cannot get through tough times if we don't know how to listen to ourselves.

If we do not know what's going on within our own bodies and brains, then we really aren't gonna be able to make sense of the world around us. And that's what makes you know more resilient. As a resilient is being able to kind of put those puzzle pieces together.

Yeah, absolutely, and it requires us to, like you said, know ourselves and know where our thoughts are taking us because the same events happen to a lot of people. It's just how do you interpret those events and become introspective to how they're impacting you and what you need to do to respond. So, I love that one and, like you, I’m a nerd with that in terms of the introspection and looking at our thoughts and doing a lot of thought work. And one of the ones I chose, kind of lines up with that too, and that's the idea of being curious and that, that might sound a little different to people than what they might expect around resiliency. But when I read about the curiosity piece it goes back to that mindset. If you're given a new task: Are you going to see it as just more work and you're going to be buried under It? Or are you gonna take it as an opportunity to say “huh, this is interesting I wonder what I can learn from it.”

And it also made me think of a quick story from when I was in high school. Our high school track coach, three quarters of the way through practice, would pull us aside and say, you know, “you're hot, you're tired We're out in the Texas sun.

But you have this moment now to get better. You're standing on the doorstep and not everyone in your class is gonna have that opportunity today. So, take it. Become curious about where your limit is. And trust me, you will push beyond it just by wondering where it's gonna take you”.

And he was right, it always did. I always was curious with how far could I push myself. And I was always surprised with where it got me.

Gosh, that's a good point. But I think it does point out the difference between me and you. If I was in the hot Texas sun, there would be nothing curious. If I was running I would not be curious.

I would be crying.

[laughs] yeah, I’m taking this moment.

No, no, no, so that's one of our differences. But you bring up a good point. If you do not remain curious, If you do not, you know, center yourself and try to see what's around that next bend you might get stuck.

So yeah, I definitely agree with you there. And my little joke there really kind of leads me into another piece of resilience that is important to me, personally. And this is… it's an individualized thing, you know, I think a lot of people have different skills in their toolbox.

And for me, humor is one of the skills I have to have when I’m going through a tough time. In order for me to become stronger, in order for me to get through a challenge I need to laugh. And it's hard sometimes when life is throwing, I guess, eggs at you [laughs]. It's hard to be like, “yes, look, you know, let me make a joke about this” But it really is important to me. For me, laughter kind of heals a lot of pain and is a release of some ways. And I think that when I use humor it kind of gets me to that next level. It makes me more resilient.

And I think that is something that is confusing to people because having a sense of humor doesn’t mean that you are not taking things seriously. You know, it means that you are able to sit back and be a little more relaxed, even knowing the severity and seriousness of everything going on around you. So I want to point that out that it also helps us realize that we're all fallible.

You know, we can all make mistakes and choose how we want to respond to it, and we can joke about it. And that is a good segue also into another thing I wanted to bring up is because to joke around with people you need to be connected to people. So… [laughs]

Yes, yes

One of the things about resiliency is that it's not all in your head or what you're thinking or actions you can take. It might be more around the situation and the severity of it but also other factors in your life like your support system. How large is it? Do you know who you can turn to, to maybe have that laugh or that joke, that surfacing moment when things are so serious?

Yeah, I don't think we get through tough times as easily by ourselves, right? I think our connection to each other. I think having people in your life that lift you up is another key for sure to resilience.

And if you don't have that it's just, it's just tougher. It just is.

Yeah, yeah. Life in general is just kind of all-around more difficult.

Yeah, You know, the final thought I guess, I wanna leave our listeners with for this one is… resiliency is something that you can build. It's not a fixed trait throughout your life and if you've been through difficult times in the past, it doesn't mean that you're now this hardened individual that doesn't need to focus on your resiliency. After that, it's not, “okay, you know, I had these issues when I was a child, I can handle anything now”. You always need to be working on your resiliency because it changes between situations. And so, assuming that you can handle it, I think, it is you know, a positive place to start but not doing anything to back up what you need in that specific situation can really lead you astray.

Yeah, yeah, resiliency is a muscle that we have to work out. It just is, I mean as much as I would love for it to come naturally and for us to only have to work on it once in our life and then be this resilient person, just like anything else that we… that is good, we have to work at it.

So, yeah, that's a really good point, Mark.

Well, everybody out there, please work on your resiliency. We hope you found this beneficial.

KC, always love speaking with you.

Until we speak again, take care and be well everybody.

If you're looking for more information on this topic use the search function on the right-hand side of this website.




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