Turning the Page

How to Build an Inner ‘Bulldog’ Resilience for your Mental Health

April 14, 2020

Storms of life can hit hard against our mental health, but we can learn to stand firm and even advance. Developing resilience is a practice of strengthing your inner Bulldog.

It was quite something as I watched this little goat headbutt a Bulldog. Repeatedly it launched itself at the Bulldog, but the dog stayed firm, resilient, and even advanced into the storm.

To me, it spoke of resilience in the face of adversity.

What is resilience?

Resilience is one of those buzzwords that is popular in Mental Health.

Psychological resilience is the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis or to return to pre-crisis status quickly. Resilience exists when the person uses “mental processes and behaviors in promoting personal assets and protecting self from the potential negative effects of stressors” Wikipedia

For this post, it’s the ability to be a bulldog in the face of whatever stressor you are facing.

Recently I had a goat try and take me out. It was an old familiar shame pathway that I have been hit by many times, but I could see it and knew what to do.

I talked about the problem out and found my inner Bulldog strengthening its hind legs. I advanced, and the shame retreated.

Building the Bulldog

  1. Know yourself
    You’re not someone else. You are you!
    What is your reality? We are all uniquely and wonderfully made. Every one of us is different, and we all have our vulnerabilities.I take some medication for my depression.If I feel my depression is getting worse or that I am experiencing Early Warning Signs, then part of my Bulldog wisdom is to talk about my mental health with my Doctor.I hold no shame regarding my taking of medication. My body seems to need it, and that’s ok.
  2. Work out of your rest
    I believe many of us have an attitude about work and rest that is kind of mixed up. We see rest as the reward for work. ‘I’ve done enough, so now I can have a rest.’The day begins, for many, at sunrise, and sleep is what is needed to recover. I would like you to consider flipping this around.That the day begins at sunset when you go to sleep, and that you work out of your rest.That you have one day a week for solid Bulldog resting. On this day, you completely rest. You plan so that on that day you don’t even have to cook a meal.
    It’s called a Sabbath, and its what the Jews practice. A ceasing to restore and build resilience.
  3. Do what you can
    In our head butting world, you are going to come up against lots of experiences and challenges that you can’t do much about.
    I can’t solve other’s problems for them, and I don’t want to rescue people from experiences that they need to learn from. But there are somethings that I do have power over so in these I will act.
    Knowing what I can do and what I can’t empowers me to be able to act and to move forward.
  4. Insights book/ journal
    Something a counselor suggested for me to do to build my inner Bulldog was to have a small book in which I wrote by hand little self reminders and insights. In my little book, I have encouragements, reminders to tell myself.My mother had hers written on the front inner sleeve of her Bible.
    Here are some of mine.

    What I focus on gets me. Focus on the negatives/ challenges will always take me down. Focus on the positives/ good things will always give me hope.

    The subconscious can be reprogrammed through cognitive assessments.

    A feeling of hopelessness, no matter how strong, is an echo and perception from the past and is not how things really are.


    The point is to have this little book readily accessible for those much needed quick reminders of truth. What worked then will more than likely work again.

  5. Millimeter steps
    Notice that the Bulldog didn’t rush at the goat?Instead, he marched a few small steps ahead, stood his ground, and waited for the next attack. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your brain’s neural pathways weren’t either.Building resilience is a millimeter ministry of you creating and maintaining neural pathways that, over time, will become superhighway.New behaviors replace old, and they become so familiar that they are automatic.
  6. Dig in deep daily
    Create a time every day where you dig in deep to what fills your soul. It may be reading your Bible, listening to music, being still, meditating, pondering over poetry, or writing your heart into a journal.When you feed the inner Bulldog, it grows muscle for the next storm.
  7. Be a friend
    We need others, and they need us. We can listen to the storms they are facing and how their inner Bulldog is doing.I glean so much strength myself when I see others facing into there goats. It tells me that I can do it too.I praise their inner Bulldogishness.I say, ‘Go get hmm boy/girl.’Tails twitch, tongues hang out, and bellies are exposed for a playful scratch.

Storms of life can hit hard against our mental health, but we can learn to stand firm and even advance. Developing resilience is a practice of strengthing your inner Bulldog.


Mental Health is ... built by nurturing your inner bulldog resilience.CLICK TO TWEET

Quotes to consider

  • You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. Margaret Thatcher
  • Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again. Nelson Mandela
  • I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it. Maya Angelou
  • Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems. Gever Tulley
  • Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again. Nelson Mandela

Questions to answer

  1. What are the ‘little goats’ that keep trying to break you down?
  2. What does a ‘millimeter’ step forward look like for you in building resilience?
  3. How much does rest factor in your life and your resilience to tough times?

Further reading

Barry Pearman

Image cc: Sébastien LAVALAYE

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