No matter how much we wish it to be true, our growth could never be linear. While we all live different lives, something that’s an inherent part of our shared human experience is not only witnessing moments of pure bliss, happiness, and joy but also facing challenges, hardships, and painful situations.

At times, it might even feel like your whole world is crumbling down, whether it’s getting fired, coping with the loss of a loved one, going through a breakup, or struggling with a severe injury or a significant mental health issue. Now, in those incredibly low moments, we stand in front of a choice to either unravel or rebound. You might have noticed that some people know how to bounce back with seeming ease while others drown in a whirlpool of self-pity, rumination, and victim mentality.

The secret lies in cultivating psychological resilience, a powerful skill that can help you accept that while you can’t stop the waves of life, you certainly practice the art of riding them with grace. Keep reading to learn more!

The Unhealthy Habit of Self-Pity

We’ve all had shitty days at work, fallouts with school friends, or heated conversations at family functions that leave us feeling angry, sad, and hopeless. In these moments, all you might want to do is call your best friend or your partner and vent to them about all of that misery happening to you. Perhaps you feel mistreated by your boss, bullied by a colleague, or disrespected by a family member. And complaining is like a comforting blanket, bringing temporary relief.

But the truth about self-pity is that instead of aging like fine wine, it ages like old milk, turning your relationships sour and trapping you in a vicious cycle of destructive thoughts, unhealthy behaviors, and painful emotions. Self-pity feeds into a dangerous narrative that you’re a helpless victim of your life circumstances, and any efforts to solve your issues are futile, so why try in the first place?

Before you know it, you might end up:

building resilience in challenging times

The Importance of Psychological Resilience

There’s a common misconception that psychological resilience boils down to this heroic gesture of gritting your teeth and marching on against all odds without uttering a word about your struggles to anyone. Yet, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Resilience is all about:

  • recognizing the crisis in your life and navigating it with grace,
  • finding ways to quickly adapt to life’s challenges,
  • seeing past the negative events and looking at your life holistically,
  • approaching change as an opportunity to better yourself.

Let’s say you just learned you didn’t get the promotion you worked so hard for. You might feel tempted to wallow in self-pity, direct your frustrations at your boss, or lower your standards at work.

After an initial phase of being sad and coming to grips with reality, you choose to embody the qualities of psychological resilience and decide to:

  • ask your boss for feedback on how you can improve,
  • use this moment to re-examine your career,
  • pick interests or skills you could develop,
  • focus on how to utilize your strengths in your professional life,
  • stay patient, remembering that all good things take time.

3 Steps to Building Your Psychological Resilience

The beautiful thing about all skills is that they can be trained, like building muscles in the gym. Here are 3 steps you can take toward building greater psychological resilience:

psychological resilience strategies

Step 1: Replace Self-Pity With Self-Compassion

Rick Hanson, an American psychologist and an expert on positive neuroplasticity, explains how “the brain is like velcro for the negative and Teflon for the positive”.

Due to our hardwired tendency to focus on the bad things, called the negativity bias, getting stuck on the hardships, ruminating on old mistakes, or excessively feeling sorry for yourself tends to be more of an automatic reaction than a conscious choice.

The way to counteract that is by developing a supportive, empathetic relationship with yourself filled with gratitude and self-compassion. It’s about replacing:

  • “I don’t deserve this” with “I appreciate all I have.”
  • “I cannot deal with this” with “I know it’s hard, and I know I can find a way.”
  • “Why did I make such a stupid mistake?” with “What can I learn from this?”

Step 2: Seek Moments of Connection

Becoming psychologically resilient means becoming emotionally vulnerable, opening up to your community, and asking for their support. Shame plays a significant role in the vicious cycle of self-pity, which can push you further down that negative spiral, isolating you from others.

Even though you might feel embarrassed to share your struggle, try to share your story with a loved one. According to Brene Brown, a best-selling author and a brilliant researcher on shame, the intensity of this challenging emotion decreases once you speak up about its roots and your sharing is met with empathy, understanding, and compassion.

Just putting it into words, saying it out loud, and being heard by your closest friends can be a fantastic resource and a powerful gesture showing they are here to support you through tough times. We all struggle with different issues in our lives; we are no strangers to feeling lost and overwhelmed at times.

Step 3: Get Professional Help

While talking to your friends and receiving love from your community can be extremely helpful, it doesn’t compare with the guidance of an experienced therapist through stormy times.

A therapeutic process creates a beautiful opportunity to:

  • get in touch with your feelings,
  • understand the root causes of some issues,
  • pin-point negative beliefs and replace them with healthy alternatives,
  • learn practical ways to regulate your emotions,
  • build a healthy daily routine to support your well-being.

Step away from the toxic habit of engaging in self-pity and learn to approach your issues proactively, with greater psychological resilience. Start by getting in touch with us here.