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Resilience: A Mental Skill You Can Cultivate?

Written by WellU Mental Coach Ami Strutin-Belinoff LMFT, CMPC

In every competitive atmosphere (or life in general) we are faced with adversity, either internal or external. For example, we may internalize losses, injuries, failures, or rejections from others as deep invalidations of ourselves (inner critic dialogue), while other forms of adversity will be presented based on external events. These external events may feel out of our control; the weather, the referees, the plane that got delayed, the coach that will not play you, or the team you were cut from. These internal and external events are individually unique to one’s experience. They may leave us feeling dejected or deflated, lacking hope or maybe a sense of giving up. When adversity strikes, you have a choice. The defining moment in your sport (and in life) is how you choose to respond.

The words that come to mind that will most effectively steer us in the right direction during these challenges: resilience, perseverance, and plasticity - (fluid, flexible, or supple, much like a river moving around an obstacle). Each competitor must find a way to encapsulate this mindset when adversity strikes and each competitor MUST find a way to build and add resilience to their mental tool bag if they are to have longevity and success in their sport. Building this skillset takes practice. Trust me, if you are a competitive athlete you will have plenty of opportunities to practice resilience. You must first start by finding what works best for you, but fear not, you do not have  to learn from scratch.


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