Can coaching help us to be emotionally resilient?

I was in a coaching session last week and resilience came up in the discussion. ‘I want to be more resilient’ she said. This was after a recent job interview didn’t work out quite the way she wanted. But what does that mean, be more resilient? We discussed what this meant to her, how resilient she feels she is now and what could be in her new strategy to help her develop resilience going forwards. This must be something that she knows will work for her, so she is better equipped to manage her own emotional resilience next time.

She developed an eight-point plan, after reflecting on resilience for a while after the session. She asked me to share it with you to help with starting your own unique plan that works for you. So here is the plan she produced:

My eight-point plan to keep Emotionally Resilient:

1. Know your boundaries. Resilient people understand that there is a separation between who they are at their core and the cause of their temporary suffering. The stress/trauma might play a part in their story, but it does not overtake their permanent identity.

2. Keep good company. Resilient people tend to seek out and surround themselves with other resilient people, whether just for fun or when there’s a need for support. Supportive people give us the space to grieve and work through our emotions. They know how to listen and when to offer just enough encouragement without trying to solve all our problems with their advice. Good supporters know how to just be with adversity—calming us rather than frustrating us. Having a team around us helps reflect what they see when we’re too immersed in overwhelm to witness our own coping.

3. Develop self-awareness. Being ‘blissfully unaware’ can get us through a difficult day but it's not a wise long-term strategy. Self-awareness helps us connect with our psychological/physiological needs—knowing what we need, what we don’t need, and when it’s time to reach out for some extra help. The self-aware are good at listening to the subtle cues their body and their mood are sending.

On the other hand, a prideful stubbornness without emotional flexibility or self-awareness can make us emotional glaciers: Always trying to be strong to stay afloat, yet prone to massive stress fractures when we experience an unexpected change. Look at my information on DISC profiling page to develop your self-awareness further.

4. Practice acceptance. Pain is painful, stress is stressful, and healing takes time. When we're in it, we want the pain to go away. When we're outside it, we want to take away the pain of those who we see suffering. Yet resilient people understand that stress/pain is a part of living that ebbs and flows. As hard as it is in the moment, it’s better to come to terms with the truth of the pain than to ignore it, repress it, or deny it. Acceptance is not about giving up and letting the stress take over, it's about leaning in to experience the full range of emotions and trusting that we will bounce back.

5. Be willing to sit in silence. We are experts in distraction: T.V., overeating, abusing drugs or alcohol, risky behaviour etc. We all react differently to stress and trauma. Some of us shut down and some of us ramp up. Somewhere in the middle there is mindfulness, being in the presence of the moment without judgment or avoidance. It takes practice, but it’s one of the purest and most ancient forms of healing and resilience-building.

6. Accept that you don’t know everything. The psyche has its own built-in protective mechanisms that help us regulate stress. When we try hard to find the answers to tough questions in the face to difficult events, trying too hard can block the answers from arising naturally in their own due time. We can find strength in knowing that it's okay to not have it all figured out right now and trusting that we will gradually find peace and knowing when our mind-body-soul is ready.

7. Have a plan of self-care habits. They have a mental list (even a physical list) of good habits that support them when they need it most. We can all become self-care spotters in our life—noticing those things that recharge our batteries, fill our cup, and create a visual inspiration to nourish the soul when life is just too much. Create something that what works for you to get swirling thoughts out of your head. A poster, a list, an e-mail to yourself, send yourself a text, add a thought to your notes/reminders or alerts or whatever else works for you.

8. Consider the possibilities. We can train ourselves to ask which parts of our current story are permanent and which can change. Can this situation be looked at in a separate way that I haven't considered yet? This helps us maintain a realistic understanding that the present situation is being coloured by our current interpretation. Our interpretations of our stories will always change as we grow and mature. Knowing that today's interpretation can and will change, gives us hope that things can feel better tomorrow.

If you need help with developing your own plan, then please get in touch for your free 30-minute introductory coaching call here:

Developed from an article in Psychology Today, brought to the coaching session by my client.

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