How do some build resilience and cope well with negative life events? It starts with the things we can control versus the things we cannot.


Life is full of unexpected challenges. As adults, we undoubtedly experience negative circumstances that are completely out of our control. We are unexpectedly laid off at work. Hail damages our car. A pipe bursts destroying our beautiful hardwood floors. Perhaps you can add to the list.

These events may be completely out of our control and naturally will influence how we feel and react.

Why is it however, that some of us are more resilient and able to cope with negative life events with grace and ease, while others struggle significantly? What is the key to building resilience?

Perhaps it starts with the things that we can control. Our environment!





We are responsible for and create our environment.* In turn, whether we realize it or not, our environment influences us. By understanding this, we find that our mental health and happiness are more dependent on our environment than we ever realized.

Imagine existing in an environment that causes us to dodge and circumvent negative situations constantly. This can be tremendously exhausting. Add a major and unexpected life event to the equation and it stands to reason we will feel completely downtrodden, out of control and hopeless. This could easily result in a slow decline in our mental health and happiness.

We may believe the key is to try to avoid life’s uncontrollable negative events. We cannot. Try and we shall be defeated.

It turns out, the positive and negative influences in our environment have great impact on our resilience. The key therefore is to focus on the things in life we can control. And it all starts with our environment!





When we invest our energy in the areas of life we can control, we take back our power in cultivating our positive mental health.

Look at a blooming flower. The flower is not perfect. It is not symmetrical. It has a crooked stem and blotchy colored petals. It experiences bad weather. Yet it doesn’t struggle because its environment is nourishing, with rich soil, bright sunlight, and enough water. When a hail storm hits, it grows back even stronger.

Similar to a flower, we too can thrive if our environment is nourishing and positive, despite life’s uncontrollable negative events.


Let’s take a look at the state of our current environment. Is it mostly positive? Is it filled with negative influences?  Maybe a combination of both and could stand some improvement?

Cultivating an environment that supports greater mental well-being and happiness can be as simple as limiting negative influences and increasing the occurrence of positive influences.




Let’s start by limiting negativity in our environment.

For example:

  • Stop consuming negative media
    • Negative news
    • Negative TV / Streaming shows
    • Negative articles or books
    • Unhealthy social media interactions
  • Establish firm boundaries with negative people
    • Toxic friends or acquaintances
    • Unsupportive family or friends
    • Negative co-workers
    • Say ‘No’ more often
    • Change jobs if just showing up causes undo stress
  • Don’t engage in negative conversations
    • Gossip and unnecessary drama
    • Rehashing negative events
    • Complaining to family or friends about your day

If something is a negative contribution to your day or life, take action to limit it or eliminate it if appropriate.




Add boatloads (a clinical term) of positivity to your environment.

For example:

  • Consume content that contributes to growth
    • Positive podcasts
    • Books
    • Videos to learn new skills
    • Seminars and classes
  • Interact more with positive people
    • Supportive family members
    • Friends who believe in you
    • Encouraging co-workers
  • Habits that support growth
    • Journal
    • Exercise
    • Meditate
    • New hobbies
    • Expressing gratitude for the littlest things
    • Say ‘Yes’ to the things you enjoy
  • Ask for help
    • Be open to positive change
    • Practice new coping skills
    • Address chronic pain or ailments
    • Tackle bad habits or addictions
    • See a therapist to processing unresolved trauma


With a few exceptions,* we are in control of our environment. We must protect it. After all, it is where our mental well-being strengthens, allowing us increased resilience to better navigate life’s curveballs with grace and ease.


“Happiness and freedom begin with clear understanding of one principle:

Some things are within our control, and some things are not.”



*The idea of controlling our environment is not always possible for victims of domestic violence. If you or someone you love is suffering at the hands of another, please call 911.




Are you struggling with negativity in your environment? Do you want to cultivate an environment that contributes to greater mental well-being and happiness? Do you want to develop habits and healthy relationships that make life more fulfilling? Request a Free Phone Consultation by completing the brief form below. One of our team members will reach out to learn more about your specific circumstance and discuss whether our practice and which therapist may be a good fit for your needs. We would like to help you live a life you love. We hope to hear from you soon.