KINTSUGI: the art of resilience

Edikan Umoh
6 min readAug 6, 2022


Written on the 5th of August, 2020

Everyone knows life is messy and fragile and unpredictable but we all like to believe that we’re never going to go through a tough time or that our last trial will be the last one ever, or at least that’s what I thought. We’re never inviting or expecting roadblocks to our dreams or to be put in undesirable conditions but alas life happens. But what you do afterwards determines the kind person you’ll eventually become. How do you respond to adversity? Let’s jump into how to be resilient when things go wrong.

According to Wikipedia, psychological resilience is the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis or to return to pre-crisis status quickly. I’d say resilience is the act of picking up your pieces after a traumatic period and outing them back together. A method of repairing pottery by the Japanese helps us understand how to build resistance and why it’s so important.

Kintsugi means “golden joinery’. Hearing that gives me all the chills. The fact that we can even apply this to our lives excites me a little too much. This pottery repairing method employs a special tree sap lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Once completed, beautiful seams of gold glint in the cracks of ceramic wares, giving a one-of-a-kind appearance to each “repaired” piece.

It celebrates each artifact’s unique history by emphasizing its fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. It makes the repaired piece look more beautiful than the original, revitalizing it with a new look and giving it a second life.

Kintsugi provides the base on which the art of resilience stands. It shows exactly what resilience entails. Resilience can develop into a story of restoration, authenticity, and sometimes even a resurrection.

The Relationship between Mental Health and Resilience

The mind is the most vital factor in getting to our purpose. I mean if anyone could control your mind or just even influence your thoughts, it could be incredibly disastrous. I am such an advocate for mental health, I believe we could get a lot of things in our lives right if we could just get our mind right. There’s a segue between mental health and resilience because they both affect and influence each other equally. They’re interrelated.

Having good mental health makes it more likely that you’ll get back much quicker after being hit with adversity and being able to successfully adapt to a critical situation of adversity improves your mental health greatly. It boosts your self-confidence and acts as a great reference point for the next time when the light might not be so visible.

I came across a study that identified the relationship between resilience and mental health using variables in a student sample at the University of Nisswa.

It proved that mental health and resilience are inherently linked and I think this a major reason to take building resilience seriously. So let’s get into how you can do that.

How to Build Resilience

Manage Expectations

If we can control our expectations we can streamline the number of things that disappoint us and the extent to which they disappoint us. Depending on the person, one’s view of life is affected by many things. Some of these include background and upbringing, religion, culture, education, and most of all our experiences. Regardless of that, there are some fundamentals we all have to understand about life.

Life is messy and unpredictable. Much of life just happens despite our but efforts to direct it. We’re never in control although we give in to the illusion that we are. If we can manage our expectations of life we’ll be much more likely to bounce back quickly after the usual life hurdle. At the end of the day, if we lowkey expect the life hurdle, we’ll be equipped with the tools to overcome it.

Embrace Everything You’re Feeling

I think there’s a thin line between embracing your feelings and wallowing in them. We should healthily address our feelings without totally being absorbed by them. So what does that look like?

Essentially it differs from individual to individual but it has the commonality of not engaging in distractions when the wound is still fresh or when those feelings arise. Personally writing down everything I’m feeling is it for me. Journaling helps me unpack exactly what I’m feeling, I feel almost like a weight being lifted off me after every journaling session.

Look for a window

Kathryn Kennish from Switched at Birth said “When a door closes, a window opens.” Make your way, build your own table. Don’t wait for people to invite you on. An amazing way to handle pain to take it and turn it into something worth it. Let it drive you and not destroy you.

“If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces.” — Blueprint for a Breakthrough. This is essentially what Kintsukuroi gives off. Resilience is an art and you have to decide if you want to be an artist of your life. Do you want to take it as it goes or do you want to create your own path with the pieces life gives?

What can looking for a window look like? It can look like working on a new project, learning a new skill, or engaging in hobbies that are creative or stimulate your mind. It can look like whatever you want it to look like as long as you’re passionate about it.

Physical Resilience

One thing I’ve learnt from working out is that everyone is capable of many amazing things and sometimes the only way these things can come out for us is if go through pain. Sometimes you can almost feel yourself enjoying the pain whilst in the season. Deep inside you know you’re going to come out refined. You know there’s going to be post-traumatic growth.

Just like how we have to be sore and feel pain for our body to build new muscles, we have to be ready to go through the pain to grow from one level to another. We have to be eager to pick me our broken pieces and make something out of it. There’s going to be a clear distinction between those who’ll get through the dip and those that won’t. What side will you be on?

The soreness of growth is so much less expensive than the devastating costs of regrets” — The 5 am Club

Learn and Unlearn Beliefs

Beliefs are such a powerful influence in our lives; they shape our mindsets and influence our thinking. What do you believe in? How do you see life? DO you believe you have a purpose that only you can deliver, something that won’t happen if you weren’t alive? Do you believe that you’re a world-changer? Or has your mindset led you to believe that you’re just here for the ride and you have to take whatever life has to give to you?

No. You create your own story. Every broken pottery has a story behind it. Do you want this trauma or setback to be the end of your story or do you want to continue to write it? The best way to learn new beliefs or unlearn old ones is to expose yourself to new and challenging perspectives. Good content is gold. Look for content specific to a situation like this one right here, shameless plug lol. Read books or articles, watch videos on YouTube or IGTV, and listen to podcasts. Decide to intentionally shape your mindsets; do not allow others to place their mindsets on you. Develop your own


Compartmentalization is putting your feelings about a situation into a box, locking it with a key, and dealing with it when it’s most suitable for you too. This is kind of like a shortcut or more accurately a pause before you get to resilience. We can’t pause life. Life and most especially people are unpredictable and unreliable. Regardless of what happens to us, life goes on. So we have to have strategies in place that help us deal along the way.

Compartmentalization is not a permanent solution but should only be used only in very critical situations. For example, if you have had terrible news delivered to you right before an important exam, you’d have to box up that situation till you’re fully able to deal with it.

A good way to do this takes about six deep breathes and try to put the situation in perspective, Think of the long term result. It is a vital tool in building resilience but more often than not it’s only put into practice rarely.

Resilience can be trained and only emotionally intelligent people realize its value. I promise if you make resilience your superpower you accomplish things you didn’t even imagine yourself doing. And I should know because I’m doing it right now



Edikan Umoh

I write about self-development, creative productivity, better thinking, and mental vulnerability.