The 4 Keys to Building Resilience: Key #1 – It’s all about mindset

When the going gets tough…

 The 4 Keys to building Resilience: Key #1 – It’s all about mindset

In my introduction to “The 4 Keys to building Resilience”, I mentioned that the keys were as follows:

  • Key #1: Thinking – It’s all about mindset
  • Key #2: Doing – Get moving and set some goals
  • Key #3: Connecting – We can’t do it alone
  • Key #4: Renewing – Look after yourself

So, let’s take a closer look at Key #1 – It’s all about mindset:

 Mindset is the attitude and beliefs that shape the way we think about things. Our mindset is influenced by:

  1. Our self-talk
  2. What we choose to focus on
  3. Our level of optimism or pessimism


  1. Our self-talk

The conversation we have with ourselves goes on all the time and, unfortunately, it is often negative and not helpful especially when adversity strikes. Self-talk, particularly when repeated often, shapes our beliefs about ourselves and can cause us to feel helpless and useless unless we reframe our inner conversation. The words we use create pictures in our head and the pictures trigger feelings. So negative words will create a negative picture which will in turn trigger negative feelings about ourselves and the situation. These feelings influence our moods, our interactions with others and just about everything we say and do. Not a good outcome!

So, how can we prevent this negative self-talk from impacting on our confidence and our ability to tackle challenges and set-backs?

Here’s the answer: When adversity strikes, take a moment to really listen to the words you are using to describe not only the situation, but YOU. Is your inner voice telling you what you CAN’T do? Is it telling you that you are not good enough, not smart enough, not lucky enough etc…

If so, STOP and ask yourself one simple question – is this conversation making things better or worse?If the answer is “worse”, reframe the negative inner voice using more positive and helpful language. Eg “OK, this is a setback. Let me think about what I can do about it” or “This is just a temporary setback. I’ll find a way around it” or “I’ve faced bigger obstacles than this one in the past and managed to find a solution”.

The good news about self-talk is that it is entirely within your control. No one can make you talk negatively to yourself – only you. So, given that choice, keep reminding yourself that there is a better option and that changing the way you talk to yourself is one of the most powerful things you can do to face obstacles and challenges with a far greater chance of success.

  1. What we choose to focus on

When faced with problems or setbacks, there is no point dwelling on the past or on what others have done. Rather focus on what you can do to get things to turn out well. Successful people realise that, no matter what happens to them or around them, they can find a way to take charge of things.

Here’s a good quote to memorise and remind yourself about when faced with a challenge”

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can,and the wisdom to know the difference”.

So, good questions to ask yourself is simply this:
“What is there about this issue that I can do nothing about? What is there about the issue that I can do something about?.”

Once you have identified the things you can do something about, it then makes good sense to focus your thoughts and your efforts on those things (your Circle of Influence). Often, you will be surprised how some of the things you were concerned about but chose not to put your focus on (your Circle of Concern) start resolving themselves. It is a great gift to be able to find the good in bad situations, and it is a gift you can give yourself, if you choose to.

Many people, when they encounter a stumbling block or an obstacle in their path, become discouraged and quit. But highly successful people know how to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.

  1. Our level of optimism or pessimism

How do you build optimism? You already know the best way – through positive self-talk!

So when faced with an obstacle, rather than telling yourself “My luck! This always happens to me”, or “I knew I couldn’t do this” or “My fault again”, replace these negative thoughts with more useful self-talk like “It’s a challenge but I’ll get over this”, or “I’ve faced bigger challenges in the past and found a way through”, or “This is not great but it will pass and I’m not going to let it spoil all the things that are going well for me”.

It’s important to maintain your self-image and your self-esteem and a great way to do that is to tell yourself “That’s not like me. I’m better than that. And the next time I’m going to…”.

By doing this, you are giving yourself a far better chance of moving forward than if you tell yourself “Typical me. I’m a loser!”.

One last thing

 If you are really feeling down on yourself and find it hard to say anything positive to yourself because you are too disappointed or discouraged, speak to someone you trust who knows you well and who knows your strengths. Remember that resilience is not a Do-it-yourself (DIY) job – we often need to call in other people to encourage us. Encourage is a lovely word when you break it down – en-courage, get courage. People who love us are only too happy to help when we ask for their help. Don’t ever be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. Wouldn’t you want to help and encourage someone if they asked you for support?

Happy New Year! May 2020 be a year in which you follow your dreams and face life’s challenges with confidence, courage and conviction.

Stay tuned for the other 3 Keys to building Resilience.

Alex Paizes
Leadership Development Specialist

If you are interested in learning more about Alex and his workshops on Essemy, please visit this link.