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Resilience and strength: A story we can all learn from

Written By | Nov 18, 2020
resilience and strength

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay.  CC 0.0 license. In the public domain.

WASHINGTON – You hear the statistics often. You see some people following the safety rules set up for Covid-19, while others are proceeding with little or no caution. Simply persevering and getting to the next day during this Year of the Coronavirus consistently requires resilience and strength.

Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”   ~ Nelson Mandela

This chaotic year has been a long haul for me personally. My 95-year-old mother passed this week because a staff member unintentionally brought Covid-19 into the nursing home where she was staying. Although the facility was following the standard rules, such as taking temperatures and checking for external signs of illness, the standard protocols were simply not enough. Why? Because so many people carrying the virus are asymptomatic, something rarely mentioned in the news.

However, this column is not a story about the nursing home. They really were doing their best.

Resilience and strength

My mother amazed me. I used to ask her, “how do you wake up each morning ready for a new day?” Being in pain all the time, feeling isolated due to Covid-19, she never complained. In fact, she didn’t realize herself how strong she was until I pointed it out to her and acknowledged her courage and positive outlook.

When I asked her how she did it, she said she had two choices. The first choice would be to complain, which actually makes you feel worse.

So, she said, she chose the second: To be grateful for each sunrise. Which is how I choose to live my life.

I told her about a book by Viktor Frankl called Man’s Search for Meaning. It’s a gripping story about how a man in a concentration camp managed to survive because of his resilient attitude. To paraphrase Frankl when served his meal of the day, a bowl of dirty water with a fish head in it, he said he managed to see the beauty in it, or he’d never survive. That takes resilience and strength.

Frankl wasn’t born with a resilient gene, and neither was my mother. Over the years they built their resilience muscles until they were really well developed and a natural “go-to” for them in times of difficulty.

Deploying resilience and strength in daily life

As for me, I work out my resilience muscle each day when I work out. Let me explain.

Most of us think of resilience as bouncing back. And while it is indeed about bouncing back, it is about how long it takes you to get back up. If you fail do you stay down, or do you look at the failure and learn from it? The resilient person learns from it, developing the strength to build from there.

I view resilience as a thinking style. We all have thoughts that are negative and toxic. They deplete our energy. Such negatives can include gossip or anything similar that’s delivered with bad intentions.

On the other hand, we also have thoughts that energize us, thoughts that point us in the direction we want to go. If we want to increase our resilience, we have to practice by encouraging thoughts and building productive and positive habits. To make this kind of positive, resilient thinking a habit, we need to practice it. We do so by shifting and reframing negative thinking to positive and productive thinking. This gradually builds our resilience.

Also Read: 8 Tips for better living and increased productivity during stressful times

We’re not born with resilience and strength. We have to work at it.

Resilience isn’t something you are born with. It is something you strengthen by working out with it each day. For example, if you want to develop stronger arms, you lift weights, and after repetition, your arms become stronger and more defined. The same is true of resilience.

Many people would have given up a while ago had they been in my mother’s situation. But my mother chose to be resilient. She served as a role model for both courage and heart. I will miss her terribly. But I know she’s moved on to whatever is next for her and that she’ll watch out for us like a guardian angel would.

Make sure you are taking care of yourselves and your loved ones as this strange year draws to a close. And beyond.

Be patient. Build your resilience and strength, and hang in there during this time of uncertainty.

Developing your own resilience

If you’re interested in learning resilience techniques and developing a consistent positive mindset, contact me at

You can also visit my website or call me at 301-706-7226. My book is also available: Talk Yourself into Success.

– Headline image: Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay.  CC 0.0 license. In the public domain.

NOTE: I will be running a webinar this coming March that you will find empowering. The topic: ‘Thriving During Challenging Times with Resilience and Positive Self Talk.” It’s all about “Taking Command of Your Life!“ More information about this will be forthcoming. If you are interested, we have started an attendee list. Just send me your name and email to be added to the list. More contact info below.

To learn more about this and other topics, here is a link to my book:
Susan Commander Samakow, PCC, CPCC
Professional Certified Coach, Facilitator, Trainer & Author
Business, Life, Leadership & Career Coaching
Positive Self-Talk/Confidence Strategies, Resilience Techniques & Transition Work
Former ICF Metro DC President
Enhanced C-IQ Coach
EFT Practitioner
Ask Susan about her coaching packages and the Stress Reducing techniques she teaches: EFT (Tapping) and Breathing Exercises.


Susan Samakow

Susan Commander Samakow, PCC, is a Certified Business, Life and Leadership Coach. Susan focuses on life and career transition, business and leadership, and confidence and resilience strategies. Susan is also a speaker and facilitator, as well as a Community Content Producer for WUSA 9 TV. She is the former president of the ICF Metro DC Chapter, the largest in North America. Susan’s clients are individuals, any size business and the government. Visit Susan’s website: Susan is on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In.