Bouncing Back Better than Before – How You Can Learn Resilience

Sky Capriolo

2020 is priming us all for a great lesson in resilience. A pandemic, job losses or burnout, hoarding at the grocery stores and isolation are a lot to deal with for anyone! Add in renewed calls for racial justice plus another contentious political climate and we all have plenty of reasons to feel knocked down. But, we can’t stay down for long if we want to ultimately rise up better than ever. That’s where resilience comes in.

“I don’t think there is any other option. If you want to be successful in your personal life, or your professional life, you just can’t give up. I think we are sometimes our own worst enemy. If we think we can’t do something, or we can’t get through a life event, we won’t.” Michelle Lien-Burdick has a lifetime of experience with resilience. She’s been with Motivation Excellence more than 20 years and is known for her positive attitude and can-do perseverance.

“I learned all about resilience from my mom. She overcame so many personal and medical obstacles in her life and she really taught me and my siblings all about not letting things you can’t control take over your life.”

Michelle had to build up her own resilience after being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 29.

“I was single, living on my own in a different state than my family and close friends. It was scary, but I was the only one who could fight to beat it. So, I mentally prepared myself for every treatment. I went back to the office as soon as I was feeling well enough. After the surgeries and treatments, part of my “bounce back” self-therapy was volunteering on a Breast Cancer hotline called Y-Me. I listened through a lot of tears on the other end of the phone, but felt the encouragement I was able to give these women (and men) would help them to remain resilient in their battle.”

Utilizing support systems, like the Y-Me hotline, is critical to being resilient according to multiple experts. has a lengthy article on the traits of resilient people and how we can all learn to become more resilient. Knowing that resilient people are able to handle stress in a more positive manner, the author encourages easy exercises we can all do to increase our ability to bounce back.

Like persistence, which we wrote about last month, resilience is the strength to continue toward your goals despite obstacles. Robert Brooks, PhD, shares in a WebMD post that resilient people have a greater sense of control in their lives. The post goes on to also give specific steps to being more resilient.

Contributing factors to resilience include:

  • Cultivating positive relationships
  • Utilizing support systems
  • Being realistic
  • Keeping a positive attitude
  • Being flexible
  • Recognizing and treating stress
  • Practicing healthy habits

Michelle has her own go-to steps for keeping her spirit moving forward.

“I try to keep a positive attitude. It’s not always easy, but it makes a world of difference. I do a lot of “self-talking” to encourage myself when I need it. Most importantly, for me, I pray.”

For Michelle, helping others, continues to remind her of their resilience, as well as her own.

“I became an advocate for helping those out with food insecurity. I grew up with little and knew that if food pantries were a “thing” at that time, our family would have been one of their clients. I volunteered weekly at the food pantry in my area (before recently moving) – it was amazing to see how resilient some of the clients were. They came to get a hand-up when they needed it then you wouldn’t see them for a while. They did what they needed to do to feed their families, to remain resilient to carry on.”

Michelle, in pink, her husband, and other volunteers at the “turkey table” at the Food for Greater Elgin pantry just before Thanksgiving.  

Because of Michelle’s influence, Food for Greater Elgin, is still a yearly benefactor of Motivation Excellence’s “Snack for Charity” initiative. They are, in fact, our charity for this month.  

Whether in your personal life or professional life, look at 2020 as an excellent reason to learn resilience. We are all eyeing 2021 as a vehicle for something better, but in reality no matter what happens externally, we have to internally decide how it’s going to affect our lives. We have a choice to make, and Michelle says there’s only one option.

“We all have hardships in our lives. How you deal with them will determine the outcome. Be resilient!”

May everyone who reads this have a blessed and healthy holiday season!

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