Tool Box – Building Resilience 2- Composure

What is resilience?

  • Resilience is the ability to adapt to difficult situations and or experiences.
  • When a negative experience or “crisis” occurs, it is normal for us to lose some functionality temporarily.
  • This loss or reduction of functionality can be mental, physical or both.
  • Resilience is the ability to ‘bounce back’. A person with high resilience will return to their normal functionality much quicker and more effectively than someone with low resilience.

Domains of resilience

  • There are 5-6 commonly accepted domains or aspects of resilience:
    • Vision
    • Composure
    • Tenacity
    • Reasoning
    • Collaboration
    • Health

The composure domain

Composure is defined as a state or feeling of being – calm and in control of oneself.

To order to achieve calm control it can be helpful to focus on the following skills:

  • regulating our emotions,
  • managing our biases and
  • becoming more mindful

Emotional regulation

Emotion regulation is the ability to exert control over one’s own emotional state.

In order to better control our emotional state and establish composure it is helpful to first look at how our emotions are generated – for this I look to the process model

The process model

  • Situation – Your emotional response starts with the situation you are currently experiencing
  • Attention – What and where does your attention land during the experience?
  • Appraisal – What information or conclusions do you come too?
  • Response – How does that information/conclusion make you feel? What emotional response do you form?

Interpretation bias

Interpretation bias refers to the tendency to inappropriately interpret ambiguous information.

  • For example; you may observe some mutual friends out together and instead of believing they might have some shared interests, you assume that you have been excluded intentionally.

Interpretation bias most effects the attention and appraisal stages of the process model


Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations

Mindfulness techniques apply all along the process model from situation, attention, appraisal and help shape your response

Key attributes/skills associated with mindfulness are:

  • Intention – Approach situations as yourself, with purpose. By focusing your intention on the situation phase with purpose, you can be more objective with both your attention and appraisal.
  • Attention – Be present and focus on the now. Slow down and observe. Acknowledge how you feel physically, emotionally. Accepting how you feel in the moment can help you prepare for your response.
  • Attitude – keep an open mind as you feel and assess. Don’t let stereotypes and previous experiences cloud your current experience. Some skills that can help improve attitude include:
    • Acceptance
    • Down-regulating your negative thoughts
    • Up-regulating positive thoughts
    • Patience

You must take responsibility for your own attitude. You cannot rely on others to give you joy, satisfaction, or confidence; If it is given to you, it can be taken away just as easily.

Mindful meditation

A type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment.

Types of mindful meditation include:

  • Breathing meditation
  • Body scan meditation
  • Sitting meditation

The process model – revisited

  • Situation – Having strong purpose or intention gives you the power of choice. You can avoid a situation that you know does not suit your current state or intention, you could look for or create a situation that suits or you can change a situation through action or attitude
  • Attention – Slow down, take a deep breath. Take in the details both internally through your body scan and externally avoiding any interpretation bias. You may notice cues both physical and verbal and again you have to choose where your focus or attention goes.
  • Appraisal – Having a positive mindful attitude is key. Skills such as down-regulating negative thoughts by re-framing or up-regulating your positive thoughts by shifting your focus. These changes in your attitude can help you avoid interpretation bias
  • Response – By understanding and adjusting at each of the previous phases we can come up with the most objective response. Even if the situation and appraisal merit and elicits negative feelings we can take a moment and think about our resulting actions and behaviour. Our final actions and or emotions remain our choice.


  • Composure including emotional regulation plays a very significant role in resilience
  • Understanding the process model and practicing mindful skills can help us improve our emotional regulation
  • Ultimately- How we react and behave comes down to choice

Want more information?