Train resilience, strengthen self-confidence: finally able to resist [+ exercises and self-test]

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Text comes from: Resilienz trainieren. Wie Sie Schritt für Schritt innere Stärke erlangen und Krisen überstehen (2017) from Ulrich Siegrist, published by Münchener Verlagsgruppe (MVG), Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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Only rarely does our life go consistently the way we plan and hope. And sometimes there are crises. How can you survive this? Some simple exercises will help.

Train resilience, strengthen self-confidence: finally able to resist [+ exercises and self-test]

Here writes for you:


Ulrich Siegrist is a consultant and coach.


From the author:


Surviving crises: Typical stumbling blocks

As nice as it would be if all the surprises and twists in life gave us joy and happiness - experience teaches us again and again that things can turn out differently. Mostly unexpectedly and often without any action on our part, our lives are ruptured by crises or shaken by fate. Calamity and injustice are stumbling blocks that we cannot avoid. Health difficulties, problems in the workplace, a financially tight situation, personal attacks or prolonged overuse cannot always be avoided. Sometimes their power is so great that we not only stumble briefly, but are completely thrown off track. In such phases of life it is almost inconceivable that the stumbling blocks will eventually lose their crippling power. And yet this book is intended to give hope for just that.

If you manage to pause at the stumbling block and find a new direction, this can create a personal milestone for you, where you can get fresh energy for your life. Then your crisis will become what the ancient Greek word "crisis" already denotes - an escalation that brings with it a "decision". A clarification of whether and how the danger can be averted or how you can cope with the conflict, the problem or the illness. Sometimes it takes time, sometimes a lot of small steps are necessary. This training book would like to help you with this. Let yourself be taken along the way resilience, on which you can stand up again after stumbling and move on.

The psychological crisis

A mental crisis is characterized by the fact that previous attempts to cope with stressful events or living conditions have failed. This creates a feeling of helplessness and being at the mercy. This perception intensifies the fear and often leads to insomnia, loss of appetite and other impairments. Such crises are often triggered by drastic events or long-term stress:

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  • an unexpected termination
  • upcoming career changes
  • surprising massive criticism, be it from superiors or from the private sphere
  • Sudden conflicts with someone close to you
  • a sudden serious illness or even a chronic illness
  • an accident or the death of a loved one
  • a need for care in the family
  • Experience of violence
  • cheating on the partner, separation

What all these burdens have in common is that they bring about lasting change and require those affected to be able to adapt to the new situation.

Stable in a storm

Surely you've seen a storm sweep across the country, jolting and tugging the trees in the field. The tree moves violently in a storm, and sometimes it loses one or the other leaf or a few smaller branches. Inside, however, it is connected to its roots, finds support in the earth and straightens up again after a storm. Resilience is all about this inner strength. Firmly rooted people find ways not to remain lying on the ground after storms, setbacks and failures, but to get up and look confidently and powerfully into the future.

Even when circumstances cannot be changed or changes they have experienced cannot be reversed, they are able to straighten up and adapt themselves constructively to the new situation. It cannot be ruled out that fate may inflict you wounds that are painful and leave scars. And yet there is an opportunity to emerge strengthened and enriched from these disruptive challenges. Psychology calls this ability and the steps that are necessary to achieve it, resilience. Resilient people are able to build up psychological and mental resilience. Resilience as a social skill has become an indispensable part of life and is particularly important in times of upheaval.


The Latin word "resilere" means "to spring back" in our usage. In physics, this describes how well a workpiece springs back to its normal state after it has been bent - or even a bit beyond the normal state. Applied to us humans, this means: After a strong physical or emotional strain, resilient people are able to return to their "normal state" or even to outgrow themselves a little. Often terms such as "stress resistance", "psychological robustness" or "psychological elasticity" are used for this.

The resilience concept emerged from the observation that numerous people not only manage to survive crises and special stresses, but also emerge stronger from them. From the 1950s to the 1990s, the American sociologist Emmy Werner carried out a broad study of children who grew up under extremely difficult conditions. Your interesting observation: a third of these "high-risk children" managed to live a happy, healthy and independent life as an adult despite their difficult childhood. Emmy Werner described these people as vulnerable but invincible. In addition, it was shown that the environment (educator, neighbors, teacher, etc.) played an essential role in resilient children. Resilience is therefore not a static or innate property, but can be specifically influenced and changed in the course of life.

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What you can do for yourself

If you want to be one of those people who can survive crises without major damage and ultimately emerge stronger from them, I invite you to familiarize yourself with the concept of resilience. You can use it to train your inner resistance and gain strength for your current stresses and crises. This workbook on resilience has a modular structure. I recommend you start with your personal location analysis. At the end of the chapter you will find information on which additional module can be helpful for you in the next step. Just follow these instructions and find your personal resilience path.

If you notice that your stress levels clearly exceed your own capacities, I recommend that you seek specific psychological or medical support. This is often a helpful way - but it shouldn't prevent you from working with this training book for yourself and activating your own recovery powers step by step. Take your time, you don't have to go all the way at once, but can split up the individual steps and chapters over different days or even weeks. That makes the training more effective in the end.

Exercise: Your personal location analysis to pause and become aware in 5 steps

Depending on what is on your mind, you may not feel like pausing. Perhaps your hamster wheel is spinning so fast that you have no idea how to get out of it. Perhaps a certain topic captivates you so much that you can no longer think freely. But just then, pausing could be all the more important for you. Resilience is not about investing even more strength now, but rather that you first gather your strength and realign yourself. Be confident that in the process you will also discover good paths that you can follow. For this exercise you do not have to get off the hamster wheel completely; you just pause once for a good half an hour to put your situation into words. Try it!

  1. First, find a place where you can be undisturbed and with which you associate something positive. Make it as pleasant as possible there, provide beautiful lighting and - as required - a refreshing or warming drink. Sit in a comfortable position and take a deep breath. Let your location analysis take a consciously slow and calm approach. Take some time for yourself.
  2. Name the problems: Of course you already know, but it is helpful if you write it down explicitly: What is your biggest problem at the moment? Now try to take a step back and look at the situation in detail from this distance:
  3. Which stress factors are you currently exposed to?
  4. What exactly is stealing your energy?
  5. What other problems or dangers do you fear in the near future?

Everyone processes stress differently

Now that you have looked at your problems and named them, you have described your personal stressful situation. The way we humans deal with stress is very different. This often depends on our previous experience and our overall physical and psychological condition. That is why psychology assumes that our real problem is not the stress itself, but the intensity with which these stresses strain us.

Maybe that's just a small difference, but it can be important. Sometimes a single extraordinary burden is enough to occupy us completely and to bind all of our forces. So it may well be that you can still cope well with a high level of stress at work during the day, but are then so stressed that you no longer have energy even for the smallest errands or feel stressed by a friendly call from someone close.

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Self-test: reflect on the stress experience

Everyone has their own criteria according to which they perceive something as stress. Some are only really getting going and blooming more and more, where others are already "under stress". Others are particularly sensitive in certain areas and react exceptionally quickly with symptoms of physical stress.

Therefore, test under which circumstances you feel particularly stressed. For the following statements, decide whether you will always get stressed (3 points), often (2 points) or rarely (1 point) in such moments:

  • You miss the bus or the train.
  • Your supervisor will call you over.
  • You will be assigned a new task at your workplace.
  • You still have to go shopping after work.
  • You have an argument with your partner.
  • You become aware that you have a great deal of responsibility in your job.
  • You have acute financial worries.
  • You think you are not doing your job well enough.
  • In the post is a letter from the tax office.
  • You feel like the flu is coming.
  • You drive past a rear-end collision with sheet metal damage on the street.
  • While you are concentrating on an important and urgent job, the phone suddenly rings.
  • Your TV goes dead right during the evening news.
  • Your partner is dismissed from the job.
  • It's getting late and you have an important presentation to prepare for tomorrow.
  • You notice that the work you are doing is not yet good / exact enough for you.
  • You feel like you are in competition with another person.
  • You have to prioritize important tasks, but don't want to postpone anything.
  • You wake up at night and cannot fall asleep even though you are very tired.
  • Your supervisor asks you to work overtime because of the high workload.
  • You want an important and time consuming project yet to be
  • Bring it to an end, but don't miss out on your free time.
  • You feel trapped in ideas and demands that your environment has of you.
  • Exams are imminent in further education / training or during studies.

Evaluation for the self-test: How you deal with stress

Now add up your total number of points: The test shows examples of situations that can trigger stress. All in all, you can see how quickly and how intensely external stressors lead to an internal stress experience in you. This shows a tendency for your own stress regulation.

23-36 points

Congratulations! You usually have the stress under control and know how to divide your strengths well. Most likely, you instinctively sense where the inner tension is good and useful for you and where it is not worthwhile, because nothing can be changed by it. Nevertheless, you should always deliberately take small breaks.

37-51 points

Although you actually know that it is too much for you, you expect a great deal from yourself. Make sure that you feel in good time when something is getting too much for you and when it threatens to overwhelm you. Take small breaks again and again and react as quickly as possible to the smallest signs of stress and discomfort.

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52-69 points

You feel highly stressed and easily feel challenged to the limits of your capabilities and beyond. It is important for you to realize that you are doing your best to meet the requirements: With the best will in the world, you cannot do more without completely ruining your health and your joy of life. In order to maintain or restore your efficiency, it is crucial that you do not put yourself under pressure so often and not 1. always, 2. everything, 3. want to do everything in an optimal way.

Conclusion: This is your path to resilience

And this is exactly what your path to resilience looks like. Whatever your personal crisis that needs to be mastered: I wish you every success on the path to resilience!

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