Zach Dischner CC-BY

Ten Ideas for More Resilience and Antifragility

This article was originally published in Business Punk 8/2015.

Psychological resilience means facing difficult situations flexibly, overcoming instinctive stress reactions (fight, flight, freeze) and responding with heart and mind instead of the spinal cord. While resilience means to dynamically resist a storm, the relatively new concept of antifragility (a term made popular by Nassim Taleb) means to grow from the storm.

Here are ten resilience and antifragility tips from over twenty years of therapy and coaching – originally written in 2015 for a German business magazine, still relevant today. Don’t be put off by their simplicity – try them on for size. If you’re in need of fast change, consider booking a 3-Day Intensive Retreat.

10. Be genuinely strong. Don’t make yourself get up immediately after falling. Be OK with crawling, limping, or sometimes just waiting until you can walk again. This is fine. Some of us grew up with bullshit sayings like “boys don’t cry.” Actively work on erasing them from your mind.

9. They’re your emotions. Only you can make you feel angry, sad, or happy. Easy to understand rationally, of course, but it needs exercise to really get it. Whenever you think that someone else “created” one of your emotions, switch into slo-mo and ask yourself: What exactly in the other person’s behaviour did you perceive, and how did you create your feeling?

8. Choose your tribe. Friends, partners, colleagues, superiors: Choose them wisely. Be conscious of the time you invest in each of them, including yourself. And forgive them as much as you forgive yourself when you mess up.

7. Embrace the mindfuck. Sometimes, thoughts spiral into darkness. Be okay with them as well as you can; dark moments help appreciate the light. Practice getting out of the rumination spiral before the next hits.

6. Be proudly inconsistent. There’s no reason to be the same person today as yesterday. Which of your inner convictions stop you from being inconsistent (aka, flexible)?

5. Grow at your own pace. Growth happens exactly as fast as you allow it. With or without a therapist or coach, you can learn to change 40-year-old behaviours in 40 minutes. First however, you have to allow yourself to change.

4. Zoom out into beauty. When you’re stuck in a rut, zoom out as far as you can. Don’t bother writing your eulogy, as some recommend. Instead, zoom out far beyond your death, even beyond the death of the universe. Then, zoom in again. Feel what has changed, be acutely aware of impermanence. This will open up your self and let beauty into your life.

3. You are not what you think. You are and become what you do – not what you think. Which daily exercises of your mind, body and feelings bring you closer toward the person you aspire to be?

2. Quitters are winners. Quitters are losers? Nonsense! Distinguish exactly between failing and productively quitting to go forward.

1. Be egoistically altruistic. Listen to the flight attendant: When the oxygen masks fall down, help yourself first, then everyone else. Egoistical? No, ego-logical: Only when you work on yourself – honestly and persistently and forgivingly – can you be a companion to those you love, and be useful to your fellow human beings. And in the end, that’s really all that matters.