Building Resilience

By Jane Collingwood

Strength in the face of adversity is one of the most important characteristics you can have. Challenges and disappointments are inevitable. Most of us will encounter relationship problems, health issues, financial stresses, work worries, or bereavement. Even wealth can’t protect us from trauma and tragedy — but resilience does.

Resilience is one of the keys to life satisfaction. It can help prevent depression and enhance relationships. It helps us deal with sudden and unexpected challenges as well as those we anticipate and cannot avoid. It also safeguards us against long-term difficulties.

Many people who have a less-than-ideal start in life manage to turn their lives around, determined not to repeat others’ mistakes. These are the ones who developed resilience. And the good news is that resilience is not a quality only some people are able to develop. Instead, it’s a way of behaving and thinking that anyone can learn. Essentially, it involves an openness to finding your way through a situation and the determination not to see yourself as a victim.

How To Bounce Back

  • View life’s daily problems as opportunities to build resilience. Develop skills in handling rudeness, receiving poor service, being delayed, losing belongings and getting frustrated with coworkers.
  • Try to manage your emotions by reacting to setbacks with grace, humor, strength and optimism.
  • Take a while to think through the problem to find the best solution, then tell yourself to take the first step.
  • Turn to others for support. Simply describing the situation to someone else can help by putting your feelings into words and making it a logical sequence. You may even come up with new solutions as you are describing it.
  • Try to keep the problem in perspective. Remind yourself about all the aspects of life that are going well. Recall a funny joke or comment, or turn to a friend, book or film that always makes you laugh.
  • Skip forward and imagine telling someone about how you overcame this obstacle. See yourself as that strong, capable person who pulled through with grace and courage.
  • When things have settled down, think about what you learned and what you can take from it. This may benefit you in a future tricky situation and make you feel something good has come of your adversity. This ability to look back on tough times and see how you survived, rather than focusing on how you suffered, is a crucial factor in developing resilience.

Creating Resilient Relationships

Resilient relationships not only survive struggle and adversity, they grow stronger. But many close relationships become casualties of a shock or trauma such as the death or severe illness of a child. The emotional nakedness of personal tragedy shows us who we, and our partner, really are. The key to building a resilient relationship is in creating resilience before disaster strikes.

Build resilience during the good times by:

  • Keeping the channels of emotional communication open. This means it will come more naturally to share feelings under pressure. Grief, guilt and loss are lonely places and can be divisive even if experienced by both partners.
  • Seeking solutions rather than complaining or blaming. Suggest a positive action to take even if you are tempted to give up. Don’t let a bad response crush you, just keep on trying while listening to your judgement.
  • Taking responsibility for controlling your emotions. Shouting or being aggressive because you’re feeling stressed won’t improve the situation. Resilient relationships are those in which both partners make an effort to stay calm under pressure.
  • Searching for new experiences and keeping a wide group of friends.
  • Expressing love and appreciation in actions as well as words. When times get really tough, the silent acts of caring, such as making your partner a hot drink or dealing with chores without a fuss, can make a big difference.

Success and happiness largely are determined by how we choose to respond to events. Life is a hard teacher; it sends the test first and the lesson afterward. So whenever possible, learn from other people’s mistakes and observe the ways they overcome them. Having developed the skills of resilience you will be able to transform hardship into challenge and opportunity, and be an inspiration to others.

 

APA Reference
Collingwood, J. (2007). Building Resilience. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/building-resilience/0001286
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

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