You may have encountered someone who during a crisis just seems to rise above it all, wondering how evasive and elusive this all seems to you. The good news is that despite what your genes might say, your problem-solving skills and approach/outlook to life are not entirely genetic. Environment plays a huge role in how resilient one is, alongside any perceived stressors. This means you can actually learn how to become a more resilient person if it doesn’t come so natural to you.
While people vary dramatically in the coping skills they use when confronting a crisis, researchers have identified some key characteristics of resilience. Many of these skills can be developed and strengthened, which can improve your ability to deal with life’s setbacks and its many challenges.
Resilient people are usually more aware of situations, their own emotional reactions and the behavior of those around them. This usually correlates to a higher emotional intelligence. In order to manage feelings, it is essential to understand what is causing them and why. By remaining aware, resilient people can maintain control of a situation and think of new ways to tackle problems.
Some people are just born this way and it comes quite naturally to them, while others have developed this crucial skill out of a challenging set of circumstances and situations.
Another characteristic of resilience is the understanding that life is full of challenges. While we cannot avoid many of these problems we face, we can remain open, flexible, and willing to adapt to change.
Below are some other characteristics of people who have strong coping skills:
A Sense of Control
Do you perceive yourself as having control over your own life? Or do you blame outside sources for failures and problems? Generally, resilient people tend to have what psychologists call an internal locus of control. They believe that the actions they take will affect the outcome of an event.
Of course, some factors are simply outside of our personal control, such as natural disasters. While we may be able to put some blame on external causes, it is important to feel as if we have the power to make choices that will affect our situation, our ability to cope, and our future.
Strong Problem Solving Skills
Problem solving skills are essential. When a crisis emerges, resilient people are able to spot the solution that will lead to a safe outcome. In danger situations, people sometimes develop tunnel vision. They fail to note important details or take advantages of opportunities. Resilient individuals, on the other hand, are able to calmly and rationally look and the problem and envision a successful solution.
Strong Social Connections
Whenever you’re dealing with a problem, it is important to have people who can offer support. Talking about the challenges you are facing can be an excellent way to gain perspective, look for new solutions, or simply express your emotions. Friends, family members, co-workers, and online support groups can all be potential sources of social connectivity.
Identifying as a Survivor, Not a Victim (even if it feels like you are a victim)
When dealing with any potential crisis, it is essential to view yourself as a survivor. Avoid thinking like a victim of circumstance and instead look for ways to resolve the problem. While the situation may be unavoidable, you can still stay focused on a positive outcome. Perception is key here, perhaps more tantamount to anything else.
Being Able to Ask for Help, and Knowing When to Ask for It
While being resourceful is an important part of resilience, it is also essential to know when to ask for help. During a crisis, people can benefit from the help of psychologists and counselors specially trained to deal with crisis situations. It’s important to get the help you need wherever you can find it, and to never feel ashamed in reaching out. Suffering in silence is simply no virtue at all, as you will be doing yourself a disservice in the long run. Other potential sources of assistance include:
- Books – Reading about people who have experienced and overcome a similar problem can be both motivating and good for ideas on how to cope.
- Online Message Boards – Online communities can provide continual support and a place to talk about issues with people who have been in a similar situation. This helps you feel that you are not alone, and often times there is solace in knowing just that.
- Support Groups – Attending support group meetings is a great way to talk about the challenges you’re facing and find a network of people on/offline who can provide compassion and support.
- Psychotherapy – If you are having trouble coping with a crisis situation, consulting a qualified mental health professional can help you confront the problem, identify your strengths, and develop new coping skills.
Now that you know how crucial the trait of resiliency truly is, it’s best to try and emulate even just one key characteristic at a time. Over time with careful practice, and diligent implementation, (like with everything else) it will become second nature, and you will start to feel like the weight of the world has suddenly gotten much lighter, and you are able to cope with life’s challenges a lot easier with a lesser burden to carry.