The Lifesaver of Resilience

Michael E. Bernard, Ph.D.
Professor, Melbourne Graduate School of Education
Emeritus Professor, California State University, Long Beach
Founder, You Can Do It! Education

In these stressful days, there is a strength you can call on to help you cope – it’s your RESILIENCE.

Resilience is what protects all of us from the negative and painful feelings we can experience at these times – much like an umbrella protects us from the rain.

The good news is that everyone can be resilient – even if its’ been somewhat battered and bruised.

What exactly is resilience?

Simply, it means being aware of how you feel, staying calm, when you get very upset, being able to manage your behaviour so you don’t get too negative, calming down quickly and bouncing back.

When is it needed? Whenever you are faced with difficulty – changes that have occurred at work (cutback in hours of employment, working from home, being laid off) or home (forced proximity with immediate family, lack of opportunities to meet with friends, oversight of children’s distance learning, relationship difficulties).

You can use the Resilient Lifesaver (see next page) to help you stay afloat when faced with stress at home or work. You’ll see the Lifesaver has four parts.

Suppose you are getting stressed out by your kids. Suppose you want to be positive with them no matter now demanding they are. To do so, you will need to be very resilient and the Resilient Lifesaver can help.

First, pick a specific situation where your child is doing your head in and you are feeling out of control. Decide how you’d rather be reacting. Second, use self-talk to stay positive: “This isn’t the worst things that could be happening. I can cope. This won’t last forever. I won’t take this personally.” Third, you decide to use relaxation breathing plus have a chat with a friend to help you unwind, be patient and re-focus. Fourth, you do not give up! Instead, you figure out the best way to get your child to change his/her behaviour and with confidence, you put the plan into action – and persist, persist and persist including going to a different Plan B.

Here’s a great video that explains RESILIENCE. Have a look and share with others at home and school: https://www.youcandoiteducation.com.au/resilience-video/

Steps for Strengthening Your Resilience

  • Prepare means you are clear on what event or person is stressing you out and you decide ahead of time on the positive ways you’d like to feel and behave to make the problem go away – if possible!
  • Self-Talk are the private conversations you have with yourself. The key here is to get rid of negative thinking and replace it with healthier, more positive thoughts.
  • Coping skills are the little things you can do to keep yourself calm and cool.
  • Action is the way you go about dealing with the stressful event, solving the problem so that it reduces in size or disappears altogether.


Resilience means being strong, positive and having self-belief. It’s not something you are born with. The good news is that we can all learn to be more resilient. The Resilience Lifesaver can help.

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