So, what is resilience?
Resilience is the ability to bounce back; to cope with stressful situations; to adapt well in the
face of adversity; having a positive, growth mindset… We all know resilience. And if we
didn’t, I’m sure that there isn’t anyone that hasn’t become familiar with resilience over the
past couple of years.
There are many factors that can increase resilience; by having a positive mindset; by
maintaining positive personal relationships; having a good self-image; having a good
support system; making and carrying out realistic plans; pushing your limits; effectively
expressing yourself and communicating with those closest to you… Many, many factors.
We know that one of the most prevalent factors in building resilience is pushing ourselves,
pushing our limits. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing each day that scares you”. But
why is this?
What’s going on in the brain?
The main reason is the limbic system, or our Primitive brain. This part of the brain is
emotionally-driven. There is no logic or rationality here; it is negative, reactionary, obsessive
and instinctive. It will always see things from the worst possible perspective, for our self-
preservation, and is constantly vigilant. The three main components of the limbic system are
the hypothalamus, which regulates all chemical responses in our body and mind, the
amygdala, which is responsible for the fight/flight response, and the hippocampus.
Our hippocampus is responsible for numerous things – memories, negative emotions, habits,
fears, patterns of behaviour and thought patterns - many of which are the reason some of
us are more resilient than others. I liken the hippocampus to a library containing millions of
files, which relate to everything we have encountered or experienced in our life. Every time
we have a new experience or encounter a new thing, we write a new file. And every time
we repeat that event or encounter that stimulus, we update the relevant files – whether that
be with positive or negative information, depending on our experience and emotion. Our
amygdala only reacts to what is written in our files – so if the file says we fear flying
because we once experienced turbulence, we will react with fear to flying. However, if we
begin to change what is written in the files – by changing our mindset, our actions and our
behaviour – we will react accordingly. Therefore, having a more positive viewpoint on things
will invariably write more positive files… And we will begin to react in a more positive
How do we change it?
Firstly, it is important to understand that not all stress is harmful, in fact a certain amount of
stress is necessary in our lives… We need a degree of manageable stress to enable us to
push ourselves and to test ourselves. It is so important to human beings to keep striving,
not only for our self-confidence and self-belief, but the ability to overcome problems helps to
write the relevant ‘resilience’ files in the hippocampus, in our libraries. We, as humans, can
understand that life can be tough but we need those difficult experiences to allow us to
recognise and appreciate the good things and times in our lives. We will all experience
trauma and stress at some point in our life, but if you can recognise, understand and cope
with it, you will build you resilience levels. Remember nobody and no thing can make us feel
a certain way – things that are stressful are so because we allow them so to be. Try to let
the small things go; by allowing enough insignificant things build up they will eventually
become significant. These things happen, but it’s how we deal with them that makes us the
strong, resilient people we are.
The easiest way of improving our resilience levels is by improving our mindset; from
changing from a negative to a more positive viewpoint. Never underestimate the power of
positivity on a neuroscientific level; about how important it is to increase neural growth with
positive growth; about how a growth mindset drives motivation, determination and
achievement. If we have the belief that we can change and improve both our abilities and
our intellect, we will likely be more adept at problem solving, more curious as to how we can
improve our abilities, more accepting of change and much more likely to have a more
positive outlook and thus a happier life – all of which increases resilience levels. We know,
thanks to many years of scientific research, that there is a definite link between a growth
mindset and the activation in two key areas of the brain; the anterior cingulate cortex –
which is involved in learning and control – and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – which is
involved in error-monitoring and behavioural adaptation. From this we can deduce that a
growth mindset seems to be linked to higher motivation levels and error corrective
behaviour. So, a growth mindset allows people to see failure as a necessary learning
experience and bounce back easier than those with a fixed mindset and encourages
increased brain activity. It’s also worth noting that the setting of and achievements of goals
– no matter how small or seemingly insignificant - is also incredibly important to our
increasing our wellbeing and resilience levels in life due to the release of dopamine, our
reward chemical, and the updating of the relevant files in the hippocampus.
Hypnotherapy and resilience
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can really help develop a more positive, growth mindset and
an increase in motivation to make positive changes, while helping with the ability to cope
better in stressful situations. Using a combination of psychotherapy and hypnosis – all based
on neuroscientific research – we can rewrite the files in the hippocampus; rewire the brain,
if you will, and encourage the subconscious mind to make the changes to our thought
patterns and behavioral patterns needed to build resilience. Physiologically, by lowering
cortisol levels, increasing serotonin amounts and learning new coping techniques, we can
strengthen the positive neuropathways and increase our overall feeling of wellbeing. And, by
exploring new ways of thinking and shifting our perspective of situations, we can begin to
make small changes to help build resilience levels – in all areas of life.
In short, you can build resilience by:
Being more positive
Being kinder to yourself
Pushing your limits
Stepping out of your comfort zone
Setting achievable goals – and doing them!
Making an effort to keep calm and letting insignificant things go
Practising expressing yourself calmly and confidently
Using positive affirmations
Practising positive body language and using verbal language
For more information on how to build your resilience or to book in with our qualified and
experienced Leeds hypnotherapist, please drop us a line or fill in our contact form here.*