How to build up resilience

How to build up resilience


Resilience is the toughening up of oneself. To see past the misfortune, and keep moving forward. Given the same amount of force, a thinner rubber band is less resilient then a thick rubber band. How do we build up our rubber band?

We build up resilience through stress, repetition, and knowledge.


Before we go into the how, we should talk about the why – why build resilience? I will tell you, because we are soft. Our instinct is to react, which served us well for many centuries when we had to run away or fight saber tooth tigers. But, the year is 2019 and there are no more saber tooth tigers. Life has become a lot easier, which could be the drop in resilience. Stuffing our faces with twinkies while sitting in front of screens for hours a day. The basic necessities of food, water, and shelter have become safely accessible. Can you believe we use to have to go days without food? Bouncing around following the hunt. Living in the moment chasing down gazelles. We have gotten away from the moment and into our heads.

Yes I would rather be living now then during the ice age. I believe now is the coolest time to be alive. The opportunities that have opened up because of the internet are endless. Cultures are changing rapidly and we are becoming a global society. We are more connected digitally then ever, but socially somethings wrong. Even though we are more connected, we feel less connected. Anxiety and depression have followed parallel with the growth of technology. Kids resilience has declined, for god’s sake just look at their faces, their exhausted.

Instead of listening and admitting wrongness, we yell louder. Politics of a country are a great way to tell the current state of affairs. Currently in the US, it’s whatever side yells the loudest about what the other side is guilty for wins. AHHH!

It’s lies and manipulation, more AHHH! Someone says something about you, the rubber band snaps.


One way to build up resilience is through stress, a toughening up. Exercise is a way to physically see yourself toughen up. The resistance during exercise builds resilience. Stressing the body to make room for more resilience. Over time discomfort becomes comfortable.

My friend Jeremy (@j.ganba) and I were talking about resilience and what it means. Jeremy is a climber. He says that the challenges experienced while climbing and the induced stress (anxiety and fear) not only allows him to expand his comfort zone, but also helps build up resilience. Resilience – not only applicable for climbing – that can be applied in the daily life too. He puts it in a simplistic phrase. Resilience is the ability to say, “This hurts. This is disappointing, or this stresses me.”, while knowing that one has the mental tools and strength to cope with the external discomfort.

Making the discomfort comfortable, Jeremy and I went to Movement climbing gym in Baker, Colorado. After a pretty hilarious time being tested for safety I was allowed to climb. We started bouldering (a tiny wall) to warm up, and then moved onto the wall (a big wall). Not going to lie, I was pretty nervous. This was a different type of stress I was not comfortable with, heights. Never have I ever (lifts up three fingers) put my life on the line with the trust of a rope. I started at a 5.6 difficulty. I’m pretty slender and have a good muscle base.

My style of voluntary discomfort is bodybuilding, and I came at the wall with strength not ease. Pulling myself up instead of using my legs. I probably looked like a stiff monkey with a quark up it’s butt. Eventually, I made it to the top and had to get down. Lean back and let go of the wall, trust the rope, and Jeremey.

Things become easier to handle when we have been through them. We have been here before, and remember what didn’t work so we don’t repeat the same mistake. Said another way, we learned from our mistakes.


Don’t find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain.

Henry Ford

Life is going to throw some right hooks, maybe some uppercuts, keep moving forward. As Rocky says, “It ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward” (ADRIAN!!!). “That’s how winning in done” stated Mr. Balboa. It’s a game of taking the punches, realigning, and the occasional punch back. Resilience is the realigning.

How fast do you bounce back from failure? To build resilience you have to be aware of the fact: you can’t change the past. I think this may be the only time the word “can’t” is appropriate. To know that you physically can’t change what happened. Although, you CAN take the decision you made and turn it into a learning opportunity. This is called responsibility – the ability to respond to the outcome any way you want. Building resilience through repetition is a constant realigning to the present moment.


The only thing I know is that I know nothing

This philosophical quote gives me the chills, lets dissect it. Life is suffering, throwing left and right hooks. Each jab is painful, but contain codes of wisdom. Most of the time, the unhealthy habits we have are rooted in childhood trauma, and a lack of understanding. We come out of childhood with bruises everywhere. We cover up the trauma with external pleasures. Smoking cocaine and sleeping with everyone to get are mind away from thinking about the pain. Our resilience is the size of a quinoa seed, and snap at the slightest bit.

Hopefully at some point in time we realize that all the external pleasure is a facade. The sad thing is, most people don’t realize. To know that you don’t know is the ketchup to the hot dog of life. It is to question everything, gain wisdom, and question the wisdom. It is an understanding that life is a repetitive cycle of highs and lows. To say you know something for 100% certainty is to try and stop the unstoppable cycle. If you don’t experience pain there can be no pleasure because how else do you measure pleasure, and vice versa.

You can build resilience by starting to say I don’t know. It is synonymous to asking a question. To say “I don’t know” exposes you, making you vulnerable. The more you can come to terms with not knowing for certain what will happen next is the starting point to build resilience. #Growth.

Check out the last post: Blueprint for a great day

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