The Art of Resilience

We will all experience suffering at some point in our lives. Perhaps through illness, heartbreak or death. Difficult times are inevitable, often hitting us some idle Wednesday afternoon, unexplained and unexpected.

No matter how careful we are, how honorable a life we lead or how hard we try to avoid pain, in the words of Buddha, life is suffering so it’s inevitable it will affect us all eventually.

For some, suffering will be an old friend, to others a frightening new foe.

We cannot change the things that happen to us, we must each accept that. Fortunately, we can change the way we respond to them and this is where building resilience is key.

What is Resilience?
def. the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.

It’s important to point out resilience isn’t overcoming pain nor trying to forget it ever happened, instead it is growth and personal development through suffering and adversity.

Author, psychologist and resilience specialist, Chris Johnstone designed the Self Help SSRI Model to help each of us improve our resilience. It’s important to know this isn’t a model to be used solely during times of suffering. Instead it’s an exercise we can begin right away and shape into our everyday lives, like building an army to fight an inescapable war.

The model works by exploring, building and utilising four key areas –


By identifying coping strategies that work for you, you will be better informed when suffering arises. These strategies provide specific steps to change things and help us cope. They might include reading self-help books or learning to reframe a problem. Adopting a growth mindset, volunteering in your local community or taking time for yourself in the form of yoga and meditation.


Knowing our own personal strengths, means we can best exploit them during difficult times. For example, strengths such as courage, creativity, faith, flexibility, perseverance and love will all help when experiencing adversity.


These can be social, spiritual, educational or professional. Think about the resources around you, write them down and use them wherever possible. Consciously build and nurture a strong support network including friends, family and perhaps a therapist and don’t be scared to ask for help. Resilient people aren’t afraid to ask for help and understand that we all need support at some point in our lives.


Using wisdom and insights can help us move forward in our adversity. Keeping a strong faith, understanding that personal growth can come from trauma and crisis can be a turning point can help provide comfort amongst the pain.

Why not take half an hour this week and write down your key Strategies, Strengths, Resources and Insights? Love and help yourself to master the art of resilience.

Like an Oyster creates a precious pearl when a toxic grain of sand enters its shells, you two can shape something beautiful through your suffering. I wish you all the very best of luck.

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Originally published at on February 11, 2015.