Today we’re talking about resilience and how you can build resilience through journaling.

Resilience means being able to withstand and recover quickly from difficulties.

What kind of difficulties? Disappointments, bad news, unexpected events, letdowns, tragedies, things that are turning out harder than you thought they would. 

When you are resilient, you are able to decide how to proceed (instead of resist) in whichever of those situations you are faced with. 

When I think about myself when I have been resilient, compared to when I haven’t been resistant, I can see such a difference in my own energy, thinking, mood and even my posture. 

Comparing Resistance and Resilience

I’m thinking of one situation specifically where things did not go the way I expected or hoped. It got me down. I felt deflated. I was sad. And because I wasn’t calling on my own resilience (I was actually resisting the reality of what was happening), my low energy and bad mood continued longer than it needed to and started to affect my relationships and my overall outlook. 

Recently, I’ve had a similar experience where things were taking much longer than expected and costing me more money than I wanted to spend, but this time, I had been thinking about and researching and practicing resilience, so while I still felt disappointed and let down, I also recognized the reality of the situation I was in, accepted it, journaled about it (alot) and started the process of bouncing back from it. 

Bouncing Back

Speaking of bouncing back, a good metaphor for resilience is thinking about a rubber ball that bounces in such a springy and bouncy way. 

I’m thinking specifically of those little solid rubber balls we used to get from the gumball machines in front of grocery stores. That type of ball is resilient! Especially compared to a slightly larger rubber ball that’s inflated with air – I’m thinking of the kind you might use to play catch with a dog. When the dog’s ball gets a little deflated, or damaged, it may not be as bouncy, it may roll, or even worse, it might just thud and stay where it is. 

So, resilience, in a way, is like being that little bouncy ball. You get dropped, you fall below where you were, and you just bounce right back. 

Humans Are Not Rubber Balls

But, as I was thinking about the ball bouncing metaphor, I realized that visual may suggest an immediate and forceful bounce back – I don’t think resilience in humans always works that way. 

I don’t want to imply that if you are resilient, it means that as soon as something challenging or difficult happens, you immediately spring back with energy to the same or higher level that you were dropped from. 

We can be resilient in quiet and slow ways too. We may not immediately bounce back as high as we were before. We may have a series of short little bounces in our resilience experience. 

Not False Positivity

To be clear, I’m not suggesting false positivity when I’m talking about resilience. 

Instead, I’m suggesting accepting and allowing and intentionally deciding what to do when faced with a disappointment or a setback.

Threats to Resilience

A few things can threaten your resilience. When you deny what’s happening, or try to control the outcome or, when you just keep wishing for something else, it makes it hard to engage your resilience. It’s much harder to bounce back when you are denying, resisting and grasping for control. 


Denial would look like not acknowledging and accepting that what is happening really is happening. You can acknowledge and accept something without liking it or approving of it. You can objectively accept the reality of something, while still being aware of the emotional side of it. 

Trying to Control

A different twist on this is acknowledging what is happening, but then trying to control the outcome. Trying to control takes so much energy. It’s tiring, and usually not successful. Sometimes we get lucky and things end up going our way when we plan and insist and double check and try to do everything ourselves in our own preferred method. 

But more likely, things are going to play out how they play out. We don’t really know all the inputs and accompanying factors. We certainly don’t know the future. We don’t always guess right at cause and effect. 

A side effect of trying to control can also be a sense of constant worry. If we think we know what’s best and how things should go, without being open to possibilities, we tend to worry that things might not go our chosen way. Worrying is wasted energy. It’s focusing attention so narrowly that we shut out other options. 

Continuing to Wish

Another threat to resilience is continuing to wish for something else. This is kind of a mashup of denial and trying to control. While we may intellectually accept, instead of deny, what has happened and we may not be actively trying to control the outcome with force, our brains might continue to suggest a wish that something else would have happened. We may keep spinning back to that alternate reality. That spinning and returning (and then remembering it’s not the case) is also so exhausting and such an energy drain and keeps us stuck in a rut. 

Journaling Can Help Build Resilience

I don’t want any of those threats to resilience for you. I don’t want you to be in denial, or grasping for control, or spinning in a wishful alternate reality. 

You can build resilience through journaling to help you move ahead and through instead of staying stuck. You can use journaling to bounce back.

Some advice about resilience is to figure out how to proceed through the hardship. Journaling can be a great resource for this. You can write about what you are experiencing from curious, 3rd party perspective. It might even help to write as if you’re a narrator and refer to yourself in 3rd person to give yourself a little more distance. Then, you can write about multiple possible ways to proceed, with multiple potential outcomes. 

Journaling this way can help you loosen your mind and relax your mental grip.

Face Your Obstacles

Journaling to build resilience is a proactive way of facing, instead of ignoring, obstacles and setbacks. Your journal can be a place where you brainstorm your options, write out possible plans so you can see them from different angles and refer back to them with fresh eyes on another day. 

Journaling lets you examine the difficult situation with a little bit more objectivity. It is a space to ask yourself questions about the situation you’re dealing with. It is a place to remind yourself of your strength and the support that is available to you.

Resilience Prompts

You can write yourself prompts for all of these methods. Some of your prompts can be as simple as:

How can I be resilient in this situation?

What support is available to me?

What might I not be considering about this situation?

How might this situation have a silver lining for me?

What does my mind keep going back to (and do I want to keep going back to it)?


Another factor in resilience is flexibility. As you journal about your thoughts about what’s troubling you, you may be able to identify ways your mind might be trying to grasp on to control. You might be able to see your tightly held expectation. 

Once you have awareness around that illusion of control and your expectations, you can decide if the need for control and your assumptions and predictions are helpful. This decision point invites flexibility. Now, you can realize, “oh, it doesn’t have to work out this way – maybe it could work out that way, or the other way, or some way I can’t even imagine right now.”  

Those are a few ideas and suggestions about building resilience through journaling. If you are dealing with a disappointment or setback right now, maybe these resilience journaling techniques will help. 

If things are going pretty smoothly for you, keep these concepts in the back of your mind to use when necessary. 

Your Next Step

No matter how you are feeling right now, your next step is to think about your resilience history and baseline now as you journal. The next time you get out your journal to write, label a page with “How I am Resilient” and note a few examples and instances in your past and present about how you are resilient. 

You can also project into the future and think about how you can be resilient the next time something unexpected happens.

Featured Notebook

This week’s featured notebook is kind of a brash, irreverent nod to the polarity of life. 

Sometimes we’re up, sometimes we’re down. Sometimes life feels sweet – sometimes it feels savage. 

So this saucy little blank lined notebook has an animal print on a purple background as its cover. 

Its title is Kinda Sweet Kinda Savage 

In addition to the royalties I earn with the sale of these products, as an Amazon Associate, I may also earn a small commission from qualifying purchases (which could happen if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase). This does NOT result in any additional cost to you.

Hey, depending on the situation, we might all have 2 sides to our personality, right?

This fun notebook or journal a great reminder that even when we are feeling kinda savage, we can still bounce back to our sweeter side, because, after all, we are resilient!

Non Journaling News

In Non Journaling news, we are getting closer to the Weekly-ish book club starting here in March of 2024. 

We’ll be reading and talking about one of my favorite books: It’s Not Your Money by Tosha Silver

We will meet every Tuesday evening on Zoom in March and April and we’ll cover 1 chapter per week. Even if you can’t join our Zoom calls, you can still join our weekly-ish book club and participate in the online discussions and watch the recorded calls. 

Head over to to learn more.