May 18, 2020 Blog No Comments

When I wrote ways to be resilient in tough times 4 years ago, little did I know what we would be facing now. So, I’m re-posting it with relevant changes because it contains some helpful points.

We’ve all been hit by the curve ball of the pandemic. What’s allowing you to get through difficulty with a sense of resiliency verses feeling defeated? I know my own experience and there is interesting research on this.

I found resonance with the Huffington Post article, 5 Things Truly Resilient People Do Differently.  Authors, David Feldman and Lee Daniel Kravets review their book, Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success.*  They have identified five characteristics that push people forward when dealing with difficulty.

These 5 things also reflect my views on what gives us the ability to respond to adversity with resilience. With each one, I have added my own spin. See how it matches up with your experience.


The authors say this goes beyond simply being optimistic that “everything will be just fine”. It means being grounded in reality and pushing forward. It includes using the circumstance to challenge beliefs and ask questions like “now what” to prepare for what’s in front of you, rather than being blindly optimistic that everything will be fine.


To be hopeful it helps to stay forward focused to think about how you will expand and grow from the experience. We have choices about how we respond. If you lay down, the game is over. Being forward focused keeps you thinking, planning and moving in positive new directions. It fosters hope and resilience.

Changing the locus of control to be more active moves you from feeling victimized by current circumstances to be the creator of your reality. Explore new ways to make your current situation work, taking up new activities or exploring the use of electronic connectivity to be effective. Being creative with forward action allows you to move with more confidence, hope and resilience.


You have heard inspiring stories of people who take adversity and use it to pull themselves up. They push forward despite the odds. Some may say they are not being realistic, and their behavior is delusional, but this is the stuff of inspiration.

The authors tell of Casey Pieretti whose basketball career in college ended abruptly when he lost his leg in an accident with a drunk driver. His response was to decide to rehabilitate himself to run a triathlon within a year. He found his inner resolve against all the odds. Stories like this spur the rest of us on


What lesson can we derive from this adversity? What is the challenge that is speaking to us to learn, grow or do? To find the opportunity in difficulty means searching our true nature for additional meaning in life. It is never too late to give voice to what is important and take our life to new levels of action.

How is the pandemic offering new opportunities to grow and expand consistent with your values and goals? More outdoor time, more calm and silence are all healing. Finding creative new ways to offer what you do also stimulates positive growth and resilience.


It is often our nature to want to lick our wounds in private. But as the authors noted, the research says that when we receive the help and support of friends and family who want to be there for us, we protect ourselves from the difficult emotional impact of traumatic situations. Depression and anxiety are real in the face of difficulty.


If there is ever a time to appreciate your family and loved ones and be part of a shared experience, it is now. Accept and respond to offers of kindness, it is empowering for everyone. We are in this together, it is not the time to be prideful and think “I can do it alone”.

Loving more also means loving yourself to consider what else you may need to feel better. Self-care has never been more important. Staying with a good diet, exercise and embracing the holistic healing techniques of meditation, yoga, tai chi or qigong are proven to be helpful. Love yourself enough to look for new ways to enhance your self-care.


For people who have been traumatized by circumstances beyond their control, like with losses from this virus, interpersonal violence, war, man-made accidents, coming to a place of acceptance and forgiveness is a huge mountain to climb. But the climb is worth it. When we move past anger, blame and hatred, we find our inner strength. We find peace.


What is important is knowing that we have control over the most powerful tool that affects how we feel – our thoughts. Accepting full responsibility for our thoughts and pushing back against the ones that make us feel like victims is essential to rising above difficulty.

Most of us have more strength than we are aware of. Look at your history of successful experiences in coping with difficult situations and bolster yourselves for what is to come.  Pay attention to your thoughts and focus them on your ability to cope with stress; you can enhance your natural gifts to rise above difficulty.


Faith gives many people the extra support to transcend extreme difficulty. It is what the authors say “buffers the effects of trauma and galvanizes personal growth”. Whether this comes from personal religious practices or a set of beliefs, it allows people to tap into a power that is greater than themselves.


While I have always relied on a spiritual faith during difficult times, there are many people who don’t have this source of support. If you believe you’re a soul with a deep well of wisdom, you can tap into this source of comfort and hope. This moves the locus of control from external blame to your own heart-based internal wisdom that knows things have a divine order.

When you think you’ll learn and grow from this experience, you can embrace the journey. Finding meaning in this experience allows you to recognize the gifts of grace it offers. Stop struggling and you’ll flow through it without resistance and resilience. This acceptance and knowing brings calming peace in the face of difficulty.

I am assured by all these forms of deep knowing that we’ll get through these tough times and be changed for the better.

If any of this speaks to you and you’d like to explore how you can enhance your ability to cope with this current or past difficulty, my Transformational Life Coaching and Counseling will help. I welcome you to contact me at my website and use the Free Consultation link to reach out. I’d love to hear from you.

*The Huffington Post article:



Written by Connie Milligan, LCSW
If there is anything I’ve expressed that speaks to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at my email, connie [at] conniemilligan [dot] com