Sarah Boyd


The 9 most powerful questions to get perspective in a difficult situation

The Truth About Mental Toughness – You’re Stronger Than You Think

If you were to ask me during my cancer diagnosis & treatment if I felt like I was a resilient individual, my response would be “maybe?”…

From one perspective, I knew I was a strong person who had gone through hard things previously and come out the other side. I also believed that life would be better after this experience ended and there was hope in the future.

But from the other perspectiveI felt weak and utterly fatigued from the treatment; & overwhelmed by the wave of negative emotions that come with such a journey.

So is that resilience?

(Image credit @jshnaaa)

(Image credit @jshnaaa)

Most of us understand that resilience is the capacity to adapt and respond to pressure, adversity or stress. It is our ability to ‘bounce back’ from pain and move forward positively in to the future.

It is one of the most important skills in life, as it protects our mental health and is the primary determinant of our long term success in life.

But I also think that we often misunderstand resilience.

And with this misunderstanding, we can often mistakenly believe that we do not personally possess it.




1 Resilience Is Either Something You Have Or You Don’t Have

We can often mistakenly believe that our capacity for resilience is an innate ability or gift that ‘some people’ seem to possess but others don’t.

In truth, resilience is actually a skill set that is grown from infancy and wired into our brains from childhood.

Like any other habit or skill it is something that we can grow & change.

We can grow our capacity for resilience with better quality thinking, knowledge & self-management strategies.


2 Being ‘Resilient’ Means Not Experiencing Negative Emotions

We can also often mistakenly believe that if we are going through adversity and feel pain, emotions or stress that we are somehow ‘not resilient’.

In truth, it is natural and healthy to experience a wide range of emotions – positive & negative.

The nature of the stress (the intensity and duration) will often determine how long these negative emotions affect us for.

Studies have actually found that those who bounce back most effectively from life pressures, are more likely to engage with their negative emotions openly during the event.

Instead of pushing the emotions down in an effort to be ‘strong’; truly resilient individuals acknowledge, experience and deal with the pain and negative emotions of the event.

(I wrote more on this topic in my article, ‘The gift of negative emotions’)


3 Resilience Is Not Just About Surviving

We can also often mistakenly believe that resilience is about just surviving the bad things that happen to us. If we’re still alive (literally) at the end, then somehow we’ve made it.

In truth, resilience is also about thriving.

It is not a positive outcome if you come out the other side of adversity, but you are bitter and angry, wanting to step away from your life’s purpose, or hurting others.

True resilience is coming out the other side and (after a period of time) being able to view the experience with balance and gratitude for what it has brought into your life – closer relationship with family or friends, an appreciation for life, a stronger belief in your ability to withstand hardship.

And often, this thriving from our adversity can lead to greater purpose in our lives, such as projects that help others going through the same challenges, or a courage to do something we’ve previously been too afraid to do.



Resilience is one of the most important life skills, and the primarily thing that will determine our long term success and happiness in life.

Misunderstanding true resilience often leads to a negative self belief that we do not personal possess it.

No matter what pressure or adversity you are facing, you can come out the other side stronger, and with greater courage, gratitude and purpose in your life. 


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The 9 most powerful questions to get perspective in a difficult situation.