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Mind hacks to building resilience

Now we have all heard the term ‘resilience’ thrown around from time to time, but what does it really mean?

Personally, I define resilience as the ability to overcome trying times.

But the question I get a lot is “How do I gain or nurture this ability?” In this blog, I will introduce you to 3 key mind hacks that you can add to your well-being toolkit, and use as and when needed, to build on this resilient ability.

Number 1: Choice

The ability to overcome trying times starts with the mind. The mind is so powerful that it can be our own prison or liberation. When we face challenges at work or feel overwhelmed with the situation we find ourselves in, the only thing that is really in our control becomes how we choose to respond. So this ability to overcome trying times and lean into the part of our mind that can be our own liberation then becomes the ability to recognise the power of choice.

'Choice' is a funny one because it's so simple yet it is one of the most difficult things for most of us to recognise when we are going through a challenging time. Often when we feel like we have no control over our circumstances when we allow those thoughts that hinder us to take control of our mind, that's when we stop taking any action because we believe there is no point, which is what breeds anxiousness and hinders our capacity to be resilient.

But it is precisely in these moments, that it becomes crucially important to pause, and notice what is going on for us internally- asking the question ‘What are my choices here?’

In my personal and professional experience working with leaders, I have found these 3 questions to be particularly helpful in bringing our minds back to the here and now, and focusing our energy and attention on what choices are available to us.

  • What am I doing now? (How am I reacting to this current situation? Which mindset am I in [fixed or growth}?)

  • Is it working? (Are these thought processes serving me or hindering me?)

  • Is it bringing me closer to my goals or further away?

The truth is as humans, each of us has the capacity to gain the perspective that transforms us from victims to thrive, so the trick is in recognising the power of choice within us to shift our perspective. This leads me to my next hack…

Number 2: Optimism

Every time I mention optimism as a tool for building resilience, people automatically assume I’m asking them to be happy all the time or they say to me “no thanks, I’m a realist” (maybe this is what you are thinking right now). However, optimism is actually the engine of resilience and it’s a skill that can be learned.

Optimists are people who are better able to identify their problems, not people who believe there are no problems. So it’s not about trying to be happy all the time or ignoring the problems.

It’s about:

  1. Identifying: “Ok what’s the real problem here?”

  2. Responding: Once identified, figure out where you want to place your attention; “What is within and outside of my control here?”

  3. Action: You now have a choice. How are you going to respond?

Additionally, optimists are more likely to seek information and ask for help, looking for solutions rather than withdrawing from the problem. A lot of us struggle to ask for help, for a variety of reasons, but one thing is for certain- we'll feel better able to ask for help when we have taken the time to identify what the real problem/issue is and what is going on for us internally. Support will always be available as long as we ask for it.

Number 3: What are you feeding?

This last hack summarises what we have looked at so far. And by this question I mean, what are you giving focus to? Are you feeding the good traits in your life or the bad? Because whatever you choose to water will grow. I believe in the power of positive thinking, but change and that power to lean into the part of your mind that can be your own liberation also requires positive action.

Anything we practise, we become better at. If we practise and give focus to anger, we have more anger. If we practise fear, we have more fear. In many cases, we actually work very hard to ensure that we go nowhere.

Self-awareness and building in reflection into your daily routine are key to recognising what patterns and habits are no longer working for you. If resilience is the ability to bounce back and overcome a trying situation, then the foundation for nurturing this ability starts with self-awareness. What are you feeding?

Let's continue the conversation here.

About the author:

Toluwa Oyeleye is an international, highly sought-after coach, speaker and trainer, and has helped thousands of people around the world become a healthier version of themselves, starting with their mindset. Her list of qualifications is extensive, including being a MindGym certified coach, TEDx speaker and gaining her advanced coaching accreditation as a Wellbeing & Leadership coach from Cambridge University. She has also spoken on world-class stages such as United Nations conferences on topics relating to mental health & wellbeing in the workplace and at home.

Toluwa helps her clients discover more of themselves, their strengths and ‘superpower’ in a way that brings liberation in both their personal and professional lives. She coaches visionaries, leaders & emerging leaders, entrepreneurs and young people through facilitation & training workshops, group and 1-1 coaching sessions.

Between working with clients globally, she is also the founder of 'Tea with Tols', an online wellbeing platform providing a host of accessible workshops, resources and digital ‘toolkits’ to support individuals with their well-being and personal development.

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