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December 8, 2015

How To Become More Resilient

# 1. The key is to have a sincere desire to change

Dr. Randi Gunther

Some women are just lucky in love. They find the man they want, the desire is reciprocal, and the relationship works. They never have to deal with self-doubt or sorrow.

Sadly, that is the rarity. Most enter new relationships with the hope that they will work but, for many reasons, must face the inevitable truth that this one isn’t the right one, again. If it is their partner who disconnects, it is, of course, more difficult. But even when they are the ones to call it quits, they must still deal with hurting someone else and the sadness of failure.

Resilience is on a continuum. On one end the personality characteristics of toughness and the intention to quickly move on. Kind of like rolling with the punches and taking no prisoners. These women are not easily kept down for long. Their maxim is, “Don’t risk anything you’re afraid to lose,” and they don’t let other people make choices for them. It’s not that they don’t grieve the loss; they just don’t believe in wasting time on what is not possible. You might describe them as women who have a lot of male energy and they manifest that everywhere in their lives.

On the other end of the resilience continuum are the qualities of flexibility, expansiveness, deep inner reflection, and the desire to transform through the experience of sorrow. These women pull in, look at the bigger picture, compare their current experiences to those of the past, and intend to do the next relationship more successfully. They want to change the process instead of starting with an outcome and working backwards. Their maxim is, “I may look down for the count, but I’m really just re-upholstering my approach.” They are more female energy women.

It is not necessarily bad to be anywhere on the continuum as long as bitterness or giving up are not the result. If one sees intimate relationships as adventures and invests only what can be left behind, they may actually enjoy those moments more than those who count on a future. Women who naturally invest and would rather love deeply even when things don’t work out, choose that risk and accept that loss might be part of the package.

In addition there are several intersects. In fact, there are several. If a woman has been hurt many times, beginning even in her childhood, suffered by too many dreams that have died, has had limited access to quality men, is plagued by personality characteristics that allow men to take advantage of her, or is trying to handle too many losses at the same time, she is going to be more wounded no matter where on the resiliency continuum they reside.

If a woman wants to change that position, she can. It is a matter of how hard-shelled and cavalier she want to be, or can be, or whether she feels that the self-reflective/transformation path beckons. Once the desire to change emerges, there are multiple pathways to that goal.

Dr. Randi Gunther,

# 2. Follow the 5 tips below

Kristen Brown

One of the most painful things we can endure is betrayal. I understand because I have been there- not once, not twice but three times in my life. If we do not aim for healing straight away, it can shock us into some pretty neurotic behavior or it can send us double-time to the armory to suit ourselves up in order not to ever have to feel such pain again.

However, if we are truly open to healing, we can come out of our betrayal stronger, more vibrant, and more confident than ever before! All it takes is a healthy assessment and an unwavering desire for victory over victimhood!

One of the most important things to understand (and perhaps the most difficult to wrap your head around) is that when another chooses to betray, it is not about you! It is due to something going on inside of him that oftentimes we are clueless too.

For example:

• We don’t allow for certain unhealthy or negative behaviors- so he finds someone who will

• He is not willing to show up for healing conversations in order to transcend the issues

• He subconsciously used the relationship to feel safe or to get out of another relationship or bad situation- thus, repeating his pattern

• You have evolved and matured and he has not

• He has internal wounds not yet healed and he mistakenly thinks the issues in your relationship will not be present in the next

If we blame ourselves instead of looking for the underlying reasons “why”, we can perpetuate a cycle of self-pity, self-loathing, low self-esteem and fear.

It’s important to note that as with anything that ends, we should indeed experience a grieving period. Grieving is normal and healthy. However, to get stuck in it, is not.

How to overcome:

1. Be willing to forgive. Forgiveness DOES NOT condone the behavior. Non-forgiveness only hurts you, not the perpetrator

2. Talk about it. Allow for your emotions to come in and move out

3. Recognize yourself in all the glorious ways your partner did not

4. Love yourself the way you deserve to be loved. Give to yourself what was not given to you in the relationship

5. Understand that your partner has deep wounds that you do not have the power to heal

My sisters, this is not the end of your life! Behind every drama is a blessing and your blessing very well may be that there is something more grand and beautiful waiting for you on the other side of your healing! GO GET IT!

Kristen Brown, Certified Empowerment Coach/Mentor –

# 3. Be strong in your authentic self and at ease with our strengths and quirks

Elayne Daniels

Central to a fulfilling life are meaningful relationships and a sense of personal resilience. The primary love relationship we have with our significant other (boyfriend, fiancé, husband) is an important aspect of our quality of life and sense of self. Being able to cope in adaptive ways to the inevitable misunderstandings, miscommunications, and disappointments in our relationship is not something we are formally taught.

If a “Relationships and Resilience” course were taught in school, we may have a better chance of weathering inevitable ups and downs. What would you recommend be on the course syllabus? Can you envision a course designed solely to teach us skills to feel more empowered and equipped? Included in the course I’m envisioning would be role play exercises, assertiveness training, and self esteem building assignments and activities. Self compassion would be at the center of it all.

Relationships take time and lots of work. Resiliency in relationships is often not automatic.

There are many dating scenarios that lead to relationship rifts. Navigating these challenges is difficult. We often learn as we go along. Some people seem to weather the vicissitudes of dating better than others do. What is their secret? What memo did they receive that others didn’t receive?

Resiliency is something that can be part of our hard wiring, yet it can also be developed and strengthened through awareness and effort. Being able to manage the ups and downs of life, and of relationships in particular, without falling apart or becoming jaded, protects us from a lot of heartache and misguided emotion. This is at the core of resilience.

When we feel strong in our authentic self, and at ease with our strengths and quirks, we are less at the mercy of our partner to negatively influence how we feel about ourselves, our life and our future.

Dr. Elayne Daniels –

# 4. Follow the 5 tips below

Alisa Ruby Bash

As most of us have heard, the only certainty in life is uncertainty. Few individuals escape this world without setbacks, crises, and unpleasant surprises. Since life does not come with a money back guarantee, we must always do what we can to learn resilience and how to cope with change. After someone has been hurt, or experienced loss, he or she tends to do whatever it takes to avoid experiencing that pain again. This applies to all areas of life, but particularly in relationships

Research has shown that the shock of discovering infidelity in a marriage is considered more devastating than the loss of a loved one, for many women. For those who did not suspect a problem, this signifies that everything she believed about her mate and their life was a lie. Of course that can feel almost impossible to recover from. Many women develop self- sabotaging behaviors to cope. The recovery process can be long and arduous. How can we instead strengthen our resilience and keep going?

What if happiness is a choice? What if after you fall apart, you decide that no one has the power to break you, and you put yourself back together again? There is a force inside of us that is greater than our problems. This force has allowed others, who have suffered and lost everything, to keep going and to try again. It is called resilience. And it is inside of you too. Both happiness and resilience are all about perspective. Perspective is the story we decide to tell ourselves about what happened to us. After a crisis has happened, of course we will need time to grieve and heal. This process is going to take some time, and we need to be gentle with ourselves. But, at some point, we can decide that perhaps we have felt sad long enough, and want to allow more joy into our lives. This is when we start to put what happened in our lives into perspective. Allow yourself to be inspired by others who have endured so much more and came out to the other side thriving. You can choose to be that inspiration for others someday too. What happened to you is over now. Will that define you, or will you that be the stepping-stone to the rest of your life and the enfoldment of your greatest potential realized? You decide your story. Here are some action steps to cope.

1. Develop a daily spiritual practice

You can be religious, or an atheist. It doesn’t matter. This is about connecting with your true essence everyday. Whether its through prayer, meditation, long silent walks, visualizations, yoga, or something else, this is essential now more than ever to return to balance when in emotional turmoil. Take a class or read about it online if this is new for you.

2. Exercise

Cardio is so important now to get those endorphins flowing and help your brain stay positive. Also, strength training, like lifting weights, can help you subconsciously to feel emotionally stronger as well. This might be a great time to try self- defense classes or kickboxing too to help give you a physical outlet to process your anger.

3. Book a spa day

Give back to yourself and be kind to you now. Explore holistic treatments, or massage to help you relax and feel good. Try to visualize yourself feeling great and being over whatever happened while you are relaxing on the table.

4. Go on an adventure with your girls!

Whether it’s a quick night on the town, picking up a new hobby together, or an exotic tropical getaway, there is nothing like the empowerment and fun your girlfriends can bring! You will need support to develop your resilience. Lean on your friends now and ask for help. Get out of your comfort zone together and have fun as much as you can. Just remember to be there for them when they need you in the future too.

5. Commit to your own happy ending

Even when you are lost in a dark place, or overcome by emotions, you need to find your inner strength, that part of yourself that remains healthy and whole, and connect with it for yourself, your children, and your loved ones. Seek counseling and practice self-care. But, everyday, you need to write, visualize, pray and dream about who you want to be in this next chapter of your life. Then, take steps to make it happen. This could be a great time to find a creative outlet or start a new business that you feel passionate about. Put your energy in it, and over time you will not only heal, but also realize that only you have the power and responsibility to create your own happy ending.

Alisa Ruby Bash, LMFT –

# 5. Follow the 4 tips below

Amanda Patterson

What is resilience? Resilience is the ability to bounce back from something. It is the ability to get back on your feet and keep moving forward. It’s about being able to come back, even stronger, from a break- up. It’s about taking what you learned in the situation and using it to better yourself or circumstances in the future. It’s about living in a space where you are an empowered woman who looks at all of lessons you have been handed as learning experiences.

Getting over a break-up is no easy feat. It can be emotionally and physically devastating. Break-ups can feel like nothing is ever going to be the same. It can feel like you’ve lost a big part of who you are and what your life has been about. The bottom line is break-ups can be heartbreaking and the more resilient you are, the easier it will be in order to move forward.

How does someone go about becoming more resilient? Here are some suggestions of things you can do to improve your resilience:

1. Look back in your life and discover ways you have already been resilient: Everyone has a history and so do you. You have overcome things in the past. How did you do it? What can you use now to overcome this break-up? How can you use a skill you learned in the past now? How did it feel to get back on your feet?

2. Celebrate yourself and engage in self-care: My theme in my blogs is on self-care. This is something I preach in therapy. If you take care of yourself, you will automatically be a more resilient person. You will intuitively know how to treat yourself kindly. You will be able to establish what your needs are. You will know when you just need a hug or when you need to go to therapy. What can you do today to start taking care of yourself?

3. Honor your feelings and let yourself process them: It’s a break-up. You are supposed to feel sad. You are supposed to feel angry. You are supposed to feel glad. You are supposed to feel something. Allow those feelings to come. How do you process out your emotions?

4. Remind yourself at every step of the way how capable you are: The usage of positive affirmations is key. Look in the mirror every day and repeat: “I am a resilient person. I am capable of moving on from this relationship. I deserve to be loved. The relationship of my dreams is coming to me”. What affirmation works for you?

Improving resilience comes from a belief system that you have the ability to survive and thrive in a situation, no matter the circumstances. Resilience is a way of life where you see yourself as an empowered woman, not a victim of your break-up. Incorporate ways you are powerful, capable and able into every aspect of your life and your ability to be resilient will soar.

Amanda Patterson, LMHC –

# 6. Follow the advice below

Amanda Patterson

Resilience is the ability to adapt and bounce back after a difficult time and learn from the experience, despite emotional distress. It’s the process of how you adapt and change in a crisis. The courage to continue and never give up is the key to come back stronger in the face of overwhelming odds. The good news is that you can learn how to strengthen yourself more and increase your capability to manage your feelings. Resilient people do not let their unhappiness totally define them and they know that things change, even though they never thought they would.

Divorce, break –ups or discovering your partner is cheating on you can be devastating, shocking and you think that you will never trust, recover or fall in love again. Your confidence and self-esteem will be shaken for a while and you will feel emotions such as anger, loss and grief.

You will need time to process what has happened and yet it is also your attitude which will influence your recovery. How can you become more resilient?

Understand that change is a part of life and come to terms with your current circumstances. Don’t be totally defined by your past relationship. Look at the big picture of life and trust and know that you will get through this. Take care of yourself and be careful not to turn to alcohol, drugs or dating everyone to medicate your feelings.

Allow yourself to grieve your loss, let go of what you think should have happened and face the real situation. Developing some optimism and hope about your future, your ability to regulate emotions, and the capacity to learn even when you are hurting will help you regain a sense of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities. Strength actually develops from overcoming tough challenges.

At the same time, it’s also important that you give space and time to process your hurt, vulnerability and deal with your broken dreams. However, if that continues for too long it means you are getting stuck. The danger is that you may become angry and bitter which only hurts you, not your ex. It can also damage future relationships if you cannot regain trust or you may sink into depression.

Get support and talk with family, close friends and/or an experienced therapist. Don’t isolate yourself or obsess about the loss or over-romantize your relationship. Reconnect with who you are now and were before the relationship. Find some new meaning and purpose in your life, never give up and allow your courage to carry you to a new adventure in your life.

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” Maya Angelou

Sherry Marshall, BSc, MAA –

# 7. Follow the 8 tips below

Loral Lee Portenier

Resilience has been described as the ability to adapt or bounce back after enduring some type of adversity or challenge. It is the process of effectively negotiating, adapting to, or managing significant sources of stress or trauma. It is your ability to continue to fulfill your social and personal responsibilities and to derive enjoyment and pleasure from life even after experiencing a potentially traumatizing event.

Your assets and resources, drawn from yourself, the people in your life, and your environment facilitate the capacity for adaptation and bouncing back in the face of adversity. Across the course of your life, the experience of resilience typically will vary. Sometimes you will be very resilient, and other times it will be more of a struggle for you.

Here are some helpful pointers on how to increase your resilience in order to enhance your quality of life.

1. Connect with people instead of isolating

2. See crises as challenges, not insurmountable problems

3. Change happens—roll with it

4. Take back your power by taking decisive action that moves you toward your goals

5. Find positive distractions, like exercise, and avoid numbing distractions, like alcohol

6. Develop greater self-confidence and self-efficacy

7. Maintain a healthy perspective on your current and overall situation

8. Learn how to remain optimistic and hopeful

One tool you can use is creativity. Creative activity not only reduces the perception of pain (physical and emotional) but also decreases depression and increases self-esteem. Some people confuse creativity with artistic ability, but stand back and take a broader view of it. Yes, art incorporates creativity, but creativity is not restricted to art. Recall examples you have seen of, say, creative parenting, creative leadership, creative problem-solving. Add these to creative self-expression such as journaling, drawing, dancing, making music, gardening, woodworking, and so forth, and you will have a nice compendium of interventions that you can draw upon when strengthening your capacity for resilience.

So, think of a situation that has brought you to your knees, currently or in the past, and explore one or more ways you can use that experience to increase your resilience for the other challenges in your life. No experience is wasted if you learn something from it, and learning how to increase your resilience is an excellent outcome for that painful and unwanted experience.

Dr. Loral Lee Portenier,

# 8. Follow the 3 tips below

Amy Sherman

Some people are strong in the face of stressful situations and you can classify their emotional hardiness or resiliency as high. Other people “break” and are unable to handle the challenges or pick themselves up easily. Which are you? Do you get stuck when you’re going through a relationship crisis? Here are three ways to train yourself to be more resilient. Susan Kobasa, from City University in New York, states them this way:

1. Resilient people view their “problems” as challenges, rather than as threats. They feel motivated and embrace the setback with a positive attitude and strength. They have strong determination to address the issue and then do something about it. They see change as something to master and as an opportunity to grow.

2. Resilient people take charge of the situation and feel they have some level of control. Because of that, they utilize more effective coping and management strategies that allow for better choices, decisions and outcomes.

3. Resilient people persevere. In other words, they take an active part in what happens to them. They set goals, apply meaning to their behavior and maintain a strong sense of purpose. Even when things aren’t going their way, they stay committed, keeping their motivation and focus.

You do not have to possess every quality on the list to be resilient. What you do have to possess is a feeling of control over your life and a belief that you can handle what is thrown at you. With this feeling, you are not trying to control or influence the actions of others, but rather you want to control your sense of self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth.

Resiliency lets you bounce back more quickly, more easily and without the “pity-party” associated with relationship drama. It also lets you move on, knowing what you will and will not allow in a new relationship. With resiliency, you become more open and more determined to do better next time. It takes strength, faith and the intention to stay focused on who you are to show you how strong you really are.

Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC –

# 9. Follow the 3 tips below

Kris Gooding

A break up is an ENDING.  I have found that endings are very hard for a lot of people. Any ending can feel challenging:  be it a job change, graduation, moving, letting go of a friend – or an intimate relationship ending.  And so, endings are often avoided.

But being able to do endings well is a wonderful skill.  I don’t mean that there won’t be hurt, sometimes an enormous amount of hurt, attached to ending or letting go of someone. If you love or loved that person, it certainly will feel sad to let them go. Sometimes the sadness feels so heavy you think you cannot manage it for one more minute.

But how you think about this loss will be key to how well you manage the process.  Resilient people heal. Their perspective about their loss and pain is what allows them to get through hard times without completely falling apart, or giving up on themselves and others.

Life changes.  Endings are inevitable. Some are chosen by you, some are chosen for you. Some are happy endings you planned and some are completely unexpected. But if you resist change and if you believe that things should be able to stay the same as you expected, you will experience a great deal more difficulty than is needed.

Intimate relationships often end after a period of pain or struggle, betrayal of some sort, or at least time spent sorting through hard issues. So when it ends you may already be worn thin. Even if you ended it and know it is for the best, letting go of someone we have spent time and intimacies with is usually a hard process. But it is a process. It is a process that can feel like a severed limb, or a bitter-sweet relief. If you are reading this I am guessing your recent or impending break up or even a more distant one is still causing a good bit of discomfort. So how do we orient ourselves to toward healing?

1. We have to expect that it will hurt.  Break ups and loss are truly an inescapable part of life. The hurt, loneliness, grief and even agony need not be avoided, disavowed or resented.  People who are resilient are not without deep pain in their lives. They are not without loss.  They know that they are experiencing a normal human difficulty.

2. Allow the pain in and feel it.  Process it by writing about it, talking to a friend, seeing a therapist, reading books, moving through it – not around it;  and after a bit:

3. Choose to heal.  To heal the loss of a relationship we have to choose to value ourselves, choose to find help (many current endings will bring up unresolved losses from an earlier time, especially childhood, that may need attention from a therapist), choose to review what has been lost and why, choose to learn from it, and choose life rather than hiding from future connection.

Much of the unnecessary pain I see in my practice and in my own life has been caused by the things we do to AVOID pain.  Resiliency is increased when we expect that hurt will come; try our best to face our truth and the truth about others;  believe that loss is a process; and know that you won’t feel dreadful forever. Resilient people don’t make avoidant choices to end the pain of loss.  Accept what has happened and sit still with it and it will move you toward growth – if you let it.

Kris Gooding, LCSW –

# 10. Understand what is in your control


How to improve resilience in yourself is to understand what it is in your control. Some one that is successful in handling crisis is one who is able to recognize what pieces are under their power. When we are not in control we often allow anxiety to take over. When anxiety has control it becomes the “beast”. The reason I call anxiety the “beast” is you allow it to decide how you live your life. When we don’t have control the “beast” ruminates often convincing you that you are the problem. It creates low self-esteem and you go into an instinctual response, much like the beast in nature that torments the other animals. This instinctual response results in the flight, fight, or freeze response. Resulting in YOU feeling stuck. If anxiety has control YOU no longer do.

I want you to take back the control. To take back the control you have to recognize what IS in your control. Many things that happen in life we do not have control over; for instance when our partner wants to end the relationship, when a partner chooses to have an affair, or when our partner abuses alcohol. We may have a piece in these decisions but ultimately the other person decides what they want to do. Ask yourself when in a crisis, “What do I have control of in this situation?” Let’s take the first example; my partner wants to end the relationship. Perhaps you have been distance and not present in the relationship. This piece you do have power over and taking accountability for your actions can be helpful. The piece you don’t have control over is if your partner still chooses to end the relationship. Instead of trying to control your partner’s decisions, do something with the piece you can and let go of the piece you cannot. If the relationship does not workout you can use the knowledge you learned from it, that being distance results in an unhappy partner. Then do something with this in the future, as you DO have control going forward.

Instead of looking at past relationships as failures I also want you to change your framework. Instead look at the relationship as not a good fit versus the relationship failed. When you change this framework you do not allow anxiety to convince you that YOU are the failure.

Lyndsey Fraser, MA, LMFT –

# 11. Make the choice to be “resilient” and choose not to be “weak”


“Resilient – To be able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions”

Often we find that when faced with struggles we want to run and hide, take cover and wait for the hurt to stop. When dealing with broken promises and failed relationships (friendships, partnerships, etc) we would rather wallow in our heartache and disappointment than face it head on. Why is that? Why do we equate broken promises and failed relationships with wallowing? Why do we subject ourselves to sleepless nights, poor or increased appetites and isolation? Why do we “CHOOSE” to be “WEAK”?

Granted heartache is heartache and broken promises are broken promises, yet we can choose how we deal with the hurt that heartache and disappointments bring.

We can choose to be “RESILIENT and not “WEAK”. We can choose to face our pain head on, by allowing ourselves to be happy and move on. Crazy right? The thought of being happy and moving on after a heartbreak or disappointment seems impossible right?

Well, the impossible is always possible and allowing yourself to move on and be happy is exactly what one needs when recovering from a heartbreak or disappointment. We have to learn to view the person that has caused the heartbreak or disappointment as a nuisance in our lives. P.O.V. (point of view) is everything. How we view situations and people gives way to how we handle the nuisances in our lives. If your heart has been broken or you have suffered a great disappointment at the hands of someone that you once believed cared about you deeply; your P.O.V. should be that they were in no way enhancing your life and “IF” they cared so deeply you would not be sitting there alone with your broken heart in your hands or carrying the weight of this great disappointment. You have to know that you are stronger than you think and that you are capable of withstanding and recovering from difficult conditions and situations. So when faced with a great disappointment or heartbreak, make the choice to be “RESILIENT” and choose not to be “WEAK”.

Wendy Whitmore, MS, LMFT –

# 12. It’s important to have some daily rituals for yourself

Cynthia Pickett

Being resilient in a crisis happens best by taking good care of ourselves on a daily basis. Think of it this way, when we are balanced we are our most resilient. But does that mean if you are not balanced there is no hope? No, it just makes it a bit harder.

To achieve or maintain resilience it is important to have some daily rituals for yourself, something other than getting out of bed and brushing your teeth. Setting aside 10-15 minutes in the morning for quiet or meditation time can be life changing. During this time, or anytime, visualize yourself with deep grounding rods, or roots, running from the bottom of your feet down to the center of the earth. This is called grounding. Next, visualize another set of roots spreading out like a tree and running all the way around the earth. This is called rooting. Next, take some very conscious breaths. It can be any style of breathing you choose the only point to remember is to draw in the air as deeply as you can into your belly. Just this exercise alone, practiced on most days, will dramatically increase resilience. Think of a real tree with its deep, spreading out roots, standing tall in a real storm when its root system is healthy. The same applies to us humans.

When I am under fire from the outside world, I make sure I am exercising good self-care. When I don’t even for a day, I crash and it is hard to regain balance until after the crisis. So I try to stay on top of it. Work on getting a good nights sleep, eat well, I take good supplements to help support my body, make time for meditation, root & ground, exercise and breathe.

During the storm, focus on what your lesson is so you can heal it and not have the same type of storm pop up in the future. And remember, this too shall pass. It always does.

Cynthia Pickett, LCSW, LADC –

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