"Things are not getting worse, they are getting uncovered. we must hold each other tight & continue to pull back the veil." - adrienne maree brown

Building Your Resiliency 

As scientists, setbacks and failures are not only an expected part of the journey, but an important part of the process in discovering more concrete answers. Some of our most important scientific discoveries and inventions came from mistakes and accidents including understanding insulin, the discovery of penicillin, the invention of x-rays, and the creation of Sweet N' Low (saccharin) artificial sweetener. 

When we make mistakes, it triggers a specific electrical response in our brain that makes us aware of the mistake and increases our attention to avoid further errors mistakes. The strength of this electrical response varies between individuals and leads to different levels of sensitivity to mistakes. With time, how we respond to setbacks also impacts the creation of new neural pathways in our brain. When we dwell on mistakes, these new pathways can lead to decreased concentration and an increase in emotion-driven responses. For this reason it is important to develop resilience to move forward after setbacks. 

Just like anything else, changing our response to setbacks takes practice, but a variety of tools and strategies can help you in the process.

Tools for building resilience

Journey Line

If you google resilience, there is quite a bit of information that will populate. Google will give you mixed messages on what are the skills of resilience, 6 or 7 domains of resilience, and a range of photos that represent resilience. There are two important things we need to hold when discussing resiliency, the first being there are institutional and structural barriers that affect a person's ability to exist and live, which impacts our ability to be resilient. The second is being aware of the tools, resources, knowledge, skills, and support that has helped you throughout your lifetime to continue growing.

Spend some time exploring and reflecting on how you have arrived at today. Think about:

  1. What did you have to give up, keep and/or lose?
  2. What moments have left a long-lasting impression?
  3. Who is/was there with you supporting you?
  4. What tools, resources, and knowledge helped you get here?

To help you explore those questions and understand how you have been resilient, complete the Journey Line below.

Create a journey line

Brains: Journey to resilience

A short comical video about the science behind resilience.

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ARTICLE: (Re)defining resilience: a perspective of 'toughness' in BIPOC communities

Gustavo A. Molina explores how we define resilience as it relates to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

Read article

PODCAST: Don't call me resilient

Host Vinita Srivastava explores resilience through an anti-racist lens with scholars and activists.

Listen to podcast

INTERVIEW: When great scientists got it wrong

In Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein, astrophysicist Mario Livio explores the colossal errors committed by scientific greats.

Listen to interview