What is resilience?
Resilience, is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, also relationship problems, serious health, workplace and financial issues. Being resilient doesn’t mean we never experience distress though, emotional pain and sadness are common in people who have suffered major adversity or trauma in their lives. In fact the road to resilience is likely to involve considerable distress.
Resilience, is not a trait that people either have or don’t have, it involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be developed in anyone.
Can we escape needing to build resilience ?
Resilience does not automatically change us, it’s how we respond that counts. It’s our response to adversity that determines whether it will help, or hurt us. Sadly, more often than not, suffering destroys people because of their bad responses. It’s not a question of “why me” it’s more a question of “why not me.” Everyone experiences some type of adversity in their lives, so trying to wrap ourselves in cotton wool, or remaining in our comfort zone, clearly doesn’t work. We would need to live a reclusive life, or be extremely lucky, not to face serious adversity at least once, if not, many times in the course of our life.
So it’s a good thing to try and build our resilience, then when we need it for what ever reason, it’s available. You might say, “what’s the point in building resilience…. nothing is going to happen, and if it ever does, I’ll get through it somehow.” My answer is “good luck with that,” it’s far better to develop a strong mental attitude, than it is to take the chance, that we may be resilient enough to “bounce back” adequately afterwards. Life is short enough, without unnecessarily being caught in a loop of mental anguish, which could possibly have been lessened, with more attention paid to resilience beforehand.
Benefits of resilience.
Resilience gives us better coping skills, helping us deal with our negative thoughts and emotions. This makes it less likely for us to continuously focus on setbacks, that we can’t change. It’s not that we suffer any less, it’s how we deal with it and learn from it. It’s as if we need to have a near death experience, to make us realize what’s important to us. Our judgement is no longer clouded with “what if’s.” How many times have you said? “If I get out of this situation, I will never complain again”.
We may complain again, but the next time something happens, it get’s that much easier to deal with. We look back to what we have been through before and realize, we got through that, so we can get through this. That’s resilience in action. Priorities change, what we stressed about once, doesn’t seem to matter anymore. I used to worry about money once and countless petty things, but now, none of those things mean anything to me. I have come through a serious car accident, three major accidents working in the heavy construction industry, I have plural plaque on my lungs from asbestos exposure. Also my wife and I lost our baby son with heart problems. I’m not suggesting I’m special though, I also realize I have been very lucky, compared to so many other people. I guess that is part of being resilient.
Obviously, we are not going to rejoice in our misfortune, but use each incident to develop “mental toughness” There is no benefit in exposing ourselves to needless situations that can hurt us but, it’s not good to pull back from anything that may build our resilience either. There is nowhere to hide in this world and if we try to, we are bound to suffer more in the present and the future.
“My scars remind me that I did indeed survive my deepest wounds. That in itself is an accomplishment. And they bring to mind something else, too. They remind me that the damage life has inflicted on me has, in many places, left me stronger and more resilient. What hurt me in the past has actually made me better equipped to face the present.” ( Steve Goodier)