What is Resilience?

There is a new buzz word in mental health circles and it is the word “Resilience”. What is it and why do we need it?

Resilience is the ability to adapt to change and adversity, to be able to bounce back from setbacks and to find a way to keep going despite difficulties that we come across in life.

Having resilience has become something that most mental health advocates now realise is a crucial tool for dealing with life’s knockbacks. Psychologists believe that resilient people are able to cope better with adversity and to rebuild their lives after a setback.

We all come to realise at some point that life is not easy and even the best laid plans can go awry. In addition, change and adversity can strike in the blink of an eye changing one’s course forever. It is now well recognised that if we do not have the ability to deal with challenges then this can seriously affect our long term mental health and our ability to get through life. Essentially, we need to find a way to look positively at setbacks so that they do not cripple us and stop us from moving forward.

What would be the best way to do this though? if we accept that resilience is born from experiencing setbacks then we realise that becoming resilient is not going to come without some pain. This is because the ability to face hardship comes from knowing that you can and you will recover and the only way you can know this for sure is when you have actually been through a period of hardship and have been able to come through it.

There are some key features of a resilient person that are worth thinking about. Resilient people are firm believers that life is worth living, that may be for themselves or for others such as spouses or children but they have an innate desire to survive. When a resilient person is given lemons, they make lemonade. Resilient individuals tend to find a way around things, knowing that one way or another, they can make it. Resilient individuals accept reality and life for what it is. They do not live in a world of dreams or fairy tales, they know that life can be tough and they accept that and perhaps, this is one of the key facts about resilience; it is having the understanding that life is not always going to be kind to you, that things don’t always work out, that bad things happen to good people and so on and being okay with that. When you accept these as facts, it makes it easier to face and deal with a challenge when it does arise.

A lack of resilience can have far reaching consequences on an individual hence the recognition of its importance and why it is needed. People who lack resilience are unable to cope when stressful situations happens, they essentially fall apart, they can become overwhelmed to the extent that they are unable to make any decisions. When faced with stress or a real challenge, they may find themselves resorting to unhealthy habits such as food, alcohol or drugs as a way of coping. In addition, a person without resilience is more likely to end up with mental health problems such as anxiety or depression and inherently, it will take them longer to recover from a setback than someone who has some resilience.

A big misconception people have about resilient people is that they are cold, or they are not emotional so they do not experience pain, grief or disappointment as much as others. This is totally untrue. Resilient people do feel pain and all the other emotions that come after a setback, the only difference is that they respond to it in a different way.

So how can we develop resilience or the skills to build resilience without experiencing setbacks? This is difficult but not impossible and I would say in my opinion to be truly resilient, you would need to have dealt with and been through some challenges however, you can also work on developing some skills that can help you build resilience such as;

  • To be resilient you need to harness the skill of looking at negative situations in a positive way or in other words trying to find the good in a bad situation.
  • Resilience demands the need for change and for change to happen you need to be open or at least flexible enough to accept that you may need to make a change
  • In order to be resilient, you need to learn how to focus on the things you can control. The desire to overthink problems and manage everything will usually cause you to become even more confused, flustered and unable to make decisions
  • It is helpful to have a good network of family and friends who genuinely care about you and want the best for you and who you can talk to when things get too much
  • Resilient people are generally emotionally aware and emotionally intelligent, you need this so that you can be aware of your emotions and understand realistically how you may need to deal with things
  • Resilient people are able to look at things in the long term, they don’t focus on short term goals and are able to commit to the long game.

If this blog raises any questions or concerns, do feel free to email me. xoxo