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Resilience in the Face of Uncertainty and Change

written byNikol Kuiken, MNLP, PCCon 13/02/2021

2020. A year that will go down in books. A year of uncertainty and new challenges that completely changed the way we live. In the face of so much uncertainty and change that the COVID-19 pandemic wrought there was one aspect of the human condition that allowed us to persevere: the quality of resilience.

With this in mind, how can we better hone our own resilience in order to overcome our individual day-to-day struggles?

“Be careful how you are talking to yourself because you are listening.” – Lisa M Hayes

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, resilience is “the ability to be happy, successful, etc. again after something difficult or bad has happened.” However, for some people, when something bad happens, it is difficult to imagine ever being happy again. They may perceive a difficult moment in life, such as the loss of freedoms and living in isolation, as something which cannot be overcome. This is because they are not utilizing the Solution-Focused tools of self-reflection and self-questioning in order to properly put the problem in its correct context.

Discover how Solution-Focused coaching skills enable you to build resilience and create transformational change in yourself and others.

Storytelling is a very powerful self-reflection tool that focuses on resetting any negative self-talk we may be experiencing. Indeed, you can redefine your own experience by re-writing the narratives you tell yourself. In Solution-Focused coaching, this is known as reframing. This is especially helpful if you are someone who tends to get stuck playing out the same old stories on repeat in your head. Instead, try to imagine a healthier, more productive storyline that resolves the difficult moments you might be experiencing. 

Reframing your story to intentionally focus on the things that we do have, paying attention to the positives, setting our intentions to focus on the meaningful moments that do occur, no matter how challenging a situation storytelling bestows you with control over how you interpret events which potentially could negatively impact your self-talk. This is a great method for enhancing your resilience. Indeed, research by Pennebaker, et. al (1988) revealed that people who engaged in therapeutic writing perceived greater amounts of well-being and happiness. As you write there are some Solution-Focused coaching questions that you can ask yourself and record on paper or even in one of the many gratitude apps readily available.

Here is the 4 Step Journaling Process

Step 1. Be present to the moment

Get your journal and open to a fresh page. Put the date at the top. Breathe. Settle in. Be present fully to the moment and choose a question from the list below.

Step 2. Free-write

Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes (or however long you want to write) and then engage in free-writing as you respond to the Solution-Focused coaching question of your choice.

Step 3. Reflect

When you are finished journaling, pause and read what you just wrote. Then pick from one of the following coaching questions and write for another 2 minutes:

What I notice about what I wrote is….


What I feel about what I wrote is…


The story I have been telling myself is...


A healthier, more meaningful story I could write for myself is…

Step 4. Acknowledge & Appreciate

Take a brief moment and acknowledge what you just did and lock in the meaningful reflections and new insights you have created in your personal narrative with self-appreciation! This is a way of anchoring your self-awareness, self-care and self-reflection.

Beneficial life coaching questions that build your well-being and resilience include:

Cultivating Feelings of Gratitude

  1. What do you want that you already have?
  2. What are some of the things you are incredibly grateful for at this time in your life?
  3. Why are these things meaningful, relevant and important to you?
  4. How can you step into appreciation at this moment?

Journaling Questions for Prioritization

  1. What decision are you trying to make?
  2. Why is it important to make this decision?
  3. What choice aligns most with your core values?
  4. Imagine you have made this decision - how will your life be better/different?

Journaling Questions for Self-Care

  1. What aspect of your wellbeing calls for more attention?
  2. When do you feel most resourceful, replenished or relaxed?
  3. What are you doing or not doing that helps you feel this way?
  4. How do you actively reduce stress in your life?

Questions for Mindfulness

  1. How much of your time do you spend living in the past? In the future? In the present?
  2. Right now, what is one thing that would make you smile (something you might hear, taste, smell, see or touch)?
  3. Write a list of all the things that bring you joy?
  4. What is one thing you don’t know that you are curious about?

At the end of the day, we cannot stop bad things from happening. What we can control is our reaction to them. Remember the wise words of Jodi Picoult, “The human capacity for burden is like bamboo – far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.”  

The power of utilizing life coaching questions is that reflection builds a resilience muscle and telling ourselves positive and meaningful stories builds our amity to be flexible in challenging times.

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