What is Resilience?
When faced with adversity in life, how does a person cope or adapt? Why do some people seem to bounce back from tragic events or loss much more quickly than others? Why do some people seem to get “stuck” in a point in their life, without the ability to move forward?
Psychologists have long studied these issues and have come up with a label you may be familiar with: resilience. When faced with a tragedy, natural disaster, health concern, relationship, work, or school problem, resilience is how well a person can adapt to the events in their life. A person with good resilience has the ability to bounce back more quickly and with less stress than someone whose resilience is less developed.
Everybody has resilience. It’s just a question of how much and how well you put it to good use in your life. Resilience doesn’t mean the person doesn’t feel the intensity of the event or problem. Instead, it just means that they’ve found a pretty good way of dealing with it more quickly than others.
Everyone can learn to increase their resilience abilities. Like any human skill, learning greater resilience is something that you can do at any age, from any background, no matter your education or family relationships. All you need to do in order to increase your resilience is have the willingness to do so. And then seek out ways of learning more about resilience, either from search engines (and articles like this one), or with the help of a trained behavior specialist, like a psychologist.
How Do You Increase Resilience?
There are many different ways you can increase resilience. Having supportive relationships in your life with your family and friends seems to be an important foundation according to much resilience research. Good, positive relationships help a person with reassurance and encouragement when times get tough, and seem to help support a person’s ability to rebound more quickly after a difficult event or problem in their life.
Relationships are not just important within the family, but outside the family too. Having a strong network of friends (and not just “Facebook friends”) is a valuable component of building better resilience. Strong social networks appear to be a key foundational building block for this skill to increase in your life.
There are other factors that can help you increase your resilience as well, including:
- Having a positive view of yourself (self-image) and confidence in your strengths and abilities (self-knowledge).
- Being able to regularly make realistic plans, and then being able to regularly carry out your plans.
- Being able to effectively and in a healthy manner manage your feelings and impulses.
- Having really good communication skills (or you’re actively working to improve them).
- Having really good problem solving skills (or you’re actively working to improve them).
These are just a few of the areas where a person can work on in order to build better resilience.
How to Build Better Resilience
Building better resilience takes time, effort, commitment, and focus. It will not just happen to you overnight, and it won’t just happen to you if read a book about resilience, or begin work with a therapist. It’s a process that will take months to learn and master. Don’t be frustrated by this, because unlike your eye color or height, resilience is not a trait but rather a skill that you can readily enhance with patience and training.
Seek out additional articles online about resilience to get your start (see the Related Articles section below for one place to begin), and keep in mind, there’s a lot to learn! You may benefit from seeing a therapist or psychologist (which can you do right now online too), or a life coach, to help you in your journey.
Keep in mind, too, that according to the American Psychological Association, a person’s culture “might have an impact on how he or she communicates feelings and deals with adversity — for example, whether and how a person connects with significant others, including extended family members and community resources. With growing cultural diversity, the public has greater access to a number of different approaches to building resilience.” This may be something to be aware of in your resilience journey.
Cohen, H. (2017). What is Resilience?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 20, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-resilience/