Carol the Coach: Are You Resilient?

Most people who come to therapy have been traumatized by rejection, abandonment and other adversities. When they make their first appointment, they share their story which brings them validation and acknowledgment. I encourage them to feel the feelings, and then I help them to decide how they want their life to be different. Most often, they tell me they want their pain to end. “Ending the pain” requires that they acquire a set of coping skills to strengthen their ability to move on and better their life.

Some people seem to be born with a resiliency that allows them to deal with life while others have to learn this skill. I ask myself why do some people succeed while others, who are equally as passionate, falter? Why do some people grow stronger from their adversities while others allow their crises to beat them down?

Each person is different, but there are clearly mindsets and strategies that separate the winners from the losers and the successful from the disparaged. When people possess the strength of resiliency they are able to move past their situation and grow stronger. Resiliency is a mindset. You aren't necessarily born with it, but you can learn it by modeling others or cognitively changing your thinking so that you shift from the negative toward the positive.

Healthy individuals can weather all sorts of trauma, loss and disappointments if they can rationalize it as a “part of life”. People with little resiliency seem to take disappointment very personally and have difficulty letting go.

Assess your resiliency and decide what areas you need to strengthen:

  • Do you fight change or embrace it? Do you ask yourself if you can benefit from an experience? This allows you to gracefully accept a change instead of fighting it. Use it to your advantage!
  • Do you ask yourself what you can learn from a situation so that you will grow stronger and not necessarily repeat the same mistakes?
  • Do you balance your needs with the needs of others? There will be many opportunities for you to pick the choice that benefits you. How do your decisions affect your environment? We have spent the last two decades focusing on "self". Making healthy decisions means balancing what is best for you with the needs of others. Ask yourself honestly, "Can I achieve this goal without compromising the needs of my loved ones or coworkers?"
  • Do you know your strengths, gifts, and talents? Do you use them with confidence? As Marianne Williamson says, "Playing small doesn't serve the world." Identify your positive qualities and then use them to define who you are.
  • Do you accept your imperfections? This often requires that you learn how to work with them. Many people spend their lives hiding from the truth. Acknowledge your weaknesses and develop a strategy to cope with deficits. Working with weaknesses means that you know what areas to work on and you take it to the next level to create a strategy of dealing with it.
  • Do you build relationships? This requires a mutual give-and-take of energy. Do you regularly spend time fortifying relationships with others? Are you able to ask others for their time and energy? Assess whether you're a giver or a taker, and practice the opposite interaction. Do this with regularity.

If resiliency doesn't come natural, develop the coping skills to maneuver through life. You get to choose whether you give in to the pain or learn from it and let it go.

Carol Juergensen Sheets LCSW PCC is a psychotherapist and personal life coach. She does motivational speaking and empowerment trainings locally and nationally. To find out more about her services–contact her at or call her at 317 218-3479. You can watch Carol the Coach segments on WTHR’s Channel 13 Wednesdays @ 12:50PM.