How to Bounce Back from Hard Times

Life is full of challenges. Not everything we attempt or wish for will materialize the way we’d hoped. But seeing failure and adversity as part of the process can help put things into perspective.

Business woman Arianna Huffington said,

“We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.”

Being resilient is not necessarily something you’re born with, but you CAN learn it. Even if you didn’t have the environment or opportunity to build skills of resilience as a child, it’s not too late.

How to Bounce Back from Hard Times

But what can you do to learn to bounce back from difficult situations? Here are a few tools that may help.

The 7 C’s of Resilience

In a study on teaching resilience to youth, Human development expert, Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, identified 7 components that help build resilience.

  • Competence
  • Confidence
  • Connection
  • Character
  • Contribution
  • Coping
  • Control

This program was meant to encourage parents to teach children how to handle stressful situations early in life, but has expanded to apply to adults and teams as well.

Using the 7 C’s of Resilience might help people of all ages and situations develop the skills needed to handle all types of challenges that may occur. Let’s take a look at how this addresses the building blocks of greater resilience.


Competence is having the ability to deal with whatever comes up in life. We’re not born knowing how to take care of things, but it can be learned over time. Knowing how to do things boosts self-esteem.

The combination of training, skills, experience, and knowledge can lead to the ability to perform a task or job efficiently. The more success you have, the more you feel encouraged to try new things. Recognize when you do something well, and build on that.

When you feel competent to address challenging situations, and develop a history of dealing with things as they come up, you may feel less stress about it. And that leads us to the next “C”, which is…


Believing in yourself can give you the extra boost you need when things are difficult. Confidence is built on accomplishments. And when you have developed the skills and abilities to deal with challenges, you may see failure or adversity as a setback that can be overcome.

Writer F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote,

“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”

Having confidence in your own power and judgment can make situations less overwhelming. Take care of yourself and believe in your ability to bounce back.


Knowing you are not alone during difficult times can give you a sense of security. When you’re facing failure or adversity, a strong support system is a big help. Whether you need someone to talk to, extra resources, or feedback on what went wrong, connections can help you clarify the situation and provide support.

Close ties with family, friends, and your community can offer an extra layer of stability during hard times. By having a sense of belonging, people tend to make better choices, have feelings of self-worth, purpose, and experience less stress.

Feeling lonely or isolated can lead to depression. But knowing people are there for you in times of need can minimize the effects of life’s challenging moments.

Psychologist Dr. John Townsend stated,

“Connecting with others during difficult times makes the trials more bearable.”


When you experience failure or adversity, your true character can often rise to the surface, and influence your words and actions. Think about who you are and how you act, and ask yourself if this is your best version of YOU.

Teaching young children right from wrong at an early age can carry through to lifelong personality traits. These principles can help follow a moral compass during difficult times.

It can be easy to become frustrated when things are not going the way you think they should. Sometimes people might feel pressured or so disappointed that they make rash and unreasonable decisions. If you have carefully cultivated your character throughout your life, those thoughts that direct your decisions, can be counted on to make your best choices.

Having a sense of self worth and positive values can keep you from spiraling down the rabbit hole of despair. Even if you were not taught to think in positive, constructive ways as a child, it’s never too late to work on self improvement skills.

Greek Philosopher Heraclitus wrote,

“The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think and what you do is who you become.”

When you become and act with integrity, honesty and perseverance, you may find the challenges of failure and adversity are overcome more easily.


Being part of something bigger than yourself can help you think about more than your own problems. Partly because helping others feels good, and partly because helping others makes it easier to ask for help yourself.

Everybody needs help sometimes. When you experience failure, you gain a sense of what that feels like, and may help someone else get through something similar. When adversity strikes, helping someone else get back on their feet may teach you something too. You may realize your place in the world, and the fact that you have the power to make a difference.

Albert Einstein stated,

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”

If you find yourself dealing with failure, you might be surprised how much you or someone else can learn from it. Reframing your failure to become something of value that creates a “lesson learned”, might turn out to be a contribution to a bigger solution.


Sometimes just figuring out a way to cope with whatever just happened, can be a challenge in itself. Failure and adversity can be hard pills to swallow. And sometimes you just need to take a break.

Stress reduction is probably one of the first things that come to mind when facing difficult situations. Doing nothing can actually be a sound strategy. Stop and think about what happened. Give your brain time to switch from “fight or flight” thinking, to something more rational. Phone a friend, drink water, focus on your breathing, and wait a while to calm down before making any decisions. Take a walk, meditate, or find other ways to be gentle with yourself when you’ve been dealt a hard blow.

Once you’re ready to address what happened, you can begin to formulate a plan to correct a problem, or accept it and move on. Breaking things down to manageable steps might help to make things seem less overwhelming.

Preparing as much as possible for disappointments and adversity can help you be in your best form when things happen. By taking care of yourself with healthy habits and lifestyle choices you might find life’s challenges can be easier to navigate.


Having control over your own thoughts and actions can keep you from being overwhelmed by outside events. Know what you can control and what you can’t.

Author Ryan Holiday wrote,

“You don’t control the situation, but you control what you think about it.”

If you failed at something, don’t waste your time dwelling on the failure. Start thinking about how you can do it differently. Ask for help if you need it. If it’s something you can change, you can start working on solutions. If it’s out of your control, you may have to let it go.

Having control over your own actions and decisions can be empowering. But the trick is to remember that when something is out of your scope of control, then you’re wasting time and energy to try and change it.

Ryan Holiday continues,

“Remember, we don’t control what happens. We control how we respond.”

Final Thoughts

There is a saying, “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.” Yes, failure and adversity will happen. Life is going to be hard sometimes. But by having a plan and developing skills for resilience, you may be able to think of those difficult times as only setbacks that teach you greater strength and character over time.

Philosopher Confucius said,

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.”

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