I once rode a beautiful but challenging horse around a track at an outdoor school. I knew it was a very difficult horse to ride and that it was very sensitive and easily spooked.
The track was in a circle and was bordered by an 8ft broadleaf hedge with a gap a few metres wide for access. Unfortunately, as I was riding around the track some people suddenly appeared in the opening laughing and making a lot of noise. The horse was spooked, spun round, cleared the hedge and on the way over flicked his body catapaulting me into the air. I landed flat on my back on the track. I lay there able to see everything but unable to move. People came running but stopped a few metres short and just stood and stared. After what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was probably only a few seconds, I was able to move my arms. I remember hearing a gasp and someone say, “She’s alive!”
Luckily I’d had the sense to wear full body protection as well as a hat and I’d just been badly winded with no serious damage.
I got up and I knew there was one thing I had to do. I had to get straight back on the horse. I knew that if I didn’t I was admitting defeat and might never ride again. So I completed my session and enjoyed many more hours of riding in the days and years that followed.
The experience undoubtedly made me a better rider. I was able to think about what had happened and what I would do differently in the future. I could easily have avoided going on the horse in the first place and stuck to quiet easy to ride horses or not ridden at all. It was embarrassing falling off but at least I tried.
We don't develop resilience by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.
It’s a lot like this with habits too. The really important thing about habit and habit change is the thing you are training is not the behaviour but the failure of the behaviour. It’s getting back on the horse after you have fallen off rather than never falling off. For example, if you want to stop smoking, or you want to lose weight you don't say "Oh I'm addicted I can't give up!" - you try, you fail, then you try again.
You just keep getting back up on that horse.