3 Secrets to Resilience

Lotus pose on water available at AllPosters

Available at AllPosters

The story you make up for yourself is what your life becomes.

Dr. Joan Borysenko


Dr. Joan Borysenko has  been a pioneer of the mind-body approach to health for decades. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of well being  is how we deal with change, particularly stressful change, in our lives – in a word – Resilience.

In speaking at the Central Coast Women’s Symposium entitled, “Saying Yes to Change: Essential Wisdom for Your Journey”, she outlined 2 very different approaches to trauma. To understand how to become more resilient, Dr. Borysenko says, it’s important to first ask yourself, ‘what is my explanatory style when I meet adversity?’

 It’s easy to see how one style increases your resilience, while the other does not.  

The 3 P’s of Pessimism & Helplessness

identified by Martin E.P. Seligman

  • Personal – ‘the world is out to get me’
  • Pervasive – ‘my whole life has been like this’
  • Permanent – ‘and it always will be’
The 3 C’s of Stress Hardiness

identified by Suzanne Ouellette Kobasa

  • Challenge – ‘I’m being called to grow and discover something new’
  • Control – ‘what part of this can I actually have an impact on and how’
  • Commitment – ‘I will stay engaged with what is happening and take action on what is within my power, even if that is only choosing the way in which I perceive this situation’

In addition, Dr. Borysenko says that to become stress-hardy, you need to ‘begin to be able to witness what you are doing’. Seeing your life through the prism of story is a helpful tool to moving into a bird’s eye view of whatever situation you are in, and allows you to see new solutions.

Create Your Resilience Recipe

Her 3 ingredients to becoming resilient are:

  1. Optimizing Realism – Apply the 3 C’s of Stress Hardiness
  2. Trust in Meaning – Acknowledge the instances where earlier challenges created gifts in your life, and rely on the knowledge that this will be true again.
  3. Cognitive Neuroscience – Integrate your feelings and thoughts to discover and create new meaning from traumatic events.


PS- Dr. Borysenko’s best advice of the day: “When you have a good moment, you have to rerun it in your brain. Over and over.” Have you observed that your mind has a tendency to run negative thoughts and experiences over and over?

Replace this with life’s good moments, not just your thoughts, but also your feelings. At the beginning, give yourself a pre-recorded list to choose from. Gradually, this will become a habit and it will become easy for you.

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