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The Importance of Resilience

— May 20, 2021

Overall, resilience gives one the ultimate power to overcome any form of setbacks, so that we can live the life we have always imagined and envisioned for ourselves.

Life may not come with a handy map, so everyone will go on to experience the twists and turns, from everyday challenges to traumatic events with more lasting impact, like the death of a loved one, a life-altering accident, or even a very serious illness. Please note that each change affects people differently, bringing out a unique flood of thoughts, strong emotions and more so, uncertainty. Yet people do generally adapt well to the life-changing and stressful situations in parts all thanks to resilience.

Psychologists have defined resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even certain significant sources of stress such as family and the relationship problems, some serious health problems, or more so the workplace and the financial stressors. As much as resilience does involve “bouncing back” from such difficult experiences, it can go on to involve profound personal growth too.

While these adverse and uncomfortable events, much like rough river waters, are quite painful and difficult, they do not have to specifically determine the very outcome of your life. It is important to note that there are so many aspects of your life you can control, modify, and most importantly, grow with. That is the very role of resilience. Becoming more resilient not only helps you get through the several difficult circumstances; it also does empower you to grow and even improve your life enormously along the way!

Then what resilience is not

Please understand that being resilient does not mean that a person will not experience difficulty or distress. People who have suffered major adversity or more so trauma in their lives commonly do experience emotional pain and stress. In fact, the road to resilience is likely to involve a considerable amount of emotional distress.

While certain factors might make some individuals more resilient than most others, resilience is not necessarily a personality trait that only some people possess. On the contrary, resilience involves the behaviours, thoughts, and actions that anyone can go on to learn, develop, and instill. The ability to learn and imbibe resilience is one reason that has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. 

It is like working on and building up muscle, increasing your resilience does take time and intention. Focus on the four core components that are connection, wellness, healthy thinking, and meaning. To increase your capacity for resilience to weather and grow  from difficulties, use these strategies.

  1. Build on your network connections.
  • Do prioritize relationships. 

Connecting with empathetic and understanding people can remind you that you are not alone in the midst of all difficulties. Focus on finding trustworthy and compassionate individuals who do validate your feelings, in turn do support the skill of resilience.

The pain of traumatic events can lead some people to isolate themselves, but it is important to accept help and support from those who do care about you. Whether you go on a weekly date night with your spouse or plan a lunch out with a friend, try to prioritize genuinely connecting with people who do happen to care about you.

  • Do join a group for betterment.

Along with one-on-one relationships, some people find that being active in the civic groups, faith-based communities, or even other local organizations does provide social support and can help you reclaim hope as well. Research groups in your area that can offer you support and a sense of purpose or joy when you do need it.

  1. Go on to foster wellness
  • Take good care of your body.

Self-care may be a popular buzzword, but it is also a legitimate practice for mental health and building up resilience. That is because stress is just as much physical as it is emotional. Promoting positive lifestyle factors like that of proper nutrition, ample sleep, hydration, and regular exercise can strengthen your body to adapt to stress and reduce the toll of emotions such as anxiety or depression.

  • Do practice mindfulness.

    Woman in seated meditation in the water at a lakeshore; image by Audrey Hope, via
    Woman in seated meditation in the water at a lakeshore; image by Audrey Hope, via

Mindful journaling, yoga, and other such spiritual practices like prayer or meditation can also help people build connections and in turn restore hope, which can prime them to deal with all possible situations that do require resilience. When you journal, meditate, or pray, ruminate on the positive aspects of your life and recall the things you are totally grateful for, even during personal trials.

  • Do avoid any negative outlets.

It may be tempting to mask your pain with say alcohol, drugs, or other substances, but that is like putting a bandage on a very deep wound. Focus instead on giving your body resources to manage the stress, rather than seeking to eliminate the feeling of stress altogether.

  1. Find your purpose
  • Go on to help others.

Whether you volunteer with a local homeless shelter or simply support a friend in their desperate time of need, you can certainly garner a sense of purpose, foster self-worth, connect with other people, and tangibly help others, all of which can empower you to grow in resilience.

  • Be totally proactive.

It is certainly helpful to acknowledge and accept your emotions during the hard times, but it is also important to help you foster self-discovery by way of asking yourself, “What can I possibly do about a problem in my life?” If the problems say seem too big to tackle, break them down into the manageable and more so tangible pieces.

For example, if you got laid off at work, you may not be able to convince and change the mindset of your boss that it was a mistake to let you go or to lay you off. So, you can spend an hour each day developing your top strengths or working on your resume. Taking up the initiative will remind you that you can muster up the motivation and the purpose during the stressful periods of your life, increasing the very likelihood that you will consistently rise up during the painful times yet again.

  1. Move toward your goals. 
  • Develop some realistic goals and do something regularly to meet them.

Even if it does seem like a small accomplishment to be made; that does enable you to move towards the things you want to accomplish. Instead of focusing on tasks that do seem totally unachievable, ask yourself, “What is the one thing I know I can accomplish today that does help me move in the direction I want to go?” For example, if you are severely struggling with the loss of a loved one and you want to move forward, you can possibly join a grief support group in your area.

  • Look for reliable opportunities for self-discovery.

People often do find that they have grown in some respect as a result of a constant struggle. For example, after a tragedy or a strained hardship, people have gone to report better relationships and a greater sense of strength, even while feeling totally vulnerable in life. That can definitely increase their sense of self-worth and heighten their total appreciation for life.

  1. Embracing healthy thoughts
  • Keep certain things in perspective.

How you think does play a significant and crucial role in how you feel and how resilient you are when faced with any form of obstacles. Try to identify the areas of irrational thinking, such as a tendency to catastrophize difficulties or in turn to assume the world is out there to get you, and adopt to a more balanced and then a realistic thinking pattern. For instance, if you do feel overwhelmed by a certain challenge, remind yourself that what happened to you is not an indicator of how your future will go to be, and that you are not helpless and powerless. You may not be able to change a highly stressful event, but you can certainly change how you interpret and respond to it.

  • Accept the change.

Accept that change is a vital part of life. It is for your own betterment and healing. Certain goals or even ideals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations in your life. Accepting some circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on some circumstances that you can possibly alter.

  • Do maintain a hopeful outlook.

It is specifically hard to be positive when life is not going your way. An optimistic outlook does empower you to expect that good things will definitely happen to you come what may. Do try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about all that what you do fear. Along the way, do note any subtle ways in which you do start to feel better as you deal with such difficult and distressful situations.

  • Learning from your past.

By looking back at who or what was helpful in the previous times of distress, you may categorically discover how you can respond effectively to the new difficult situations that do emerge. Remind yourself of where you have been able to find strength and ask yourself what you have learned from those experiences too. 

  1. Seeking professional help

Getting help when you need it is crucial in building up your resilience.

For many people, using their own resources and the kinds of strategies listed above may be good enough for building up their resilience. But at times, an individual might get stuck or have difficulty making progress on the very road/ pathway to resilience.

A licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist can assist such people in developing an appropriate strategy for moving forward. It is very important to even get professional help if you feel like you are totally unable to function as well as you would like or perform basic activities of daily living as a result of a traumatic experience or other stressful life experiences. Do keep in mind that different people tend to be comfortable and reasonable with different styles of interaction. 

To get the most out of your therapeutic relationship, you must definitely feel at ease with a mental health professional or you must be in a support group. 

This brings us to the core importance of Resilience.

The Importance of Resilience

As indicated, resilience is our ability to adapt and bounce back when things do not go as planned. Resilient people do not wallow or dwell on failures; they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and then move forward. In time they learn, grow, adapt, and evolve for the better.

There are three elements that are essential towards resilience:

Challenge is a mandate 

Resilient people view a difficulty as a challenge, not as a paralyzing event. They look at their failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from, and as opportunities for tremendous growth. They do not view them as a negative reflection on their abilities or more so, self-worth.

Commitment is a skill

Resilient people are committed to their lives and their goals, and they have a compelling reason to get out of bed each morning. Commitment is not just restricted to their work; they commit to their relationships, their friendships, the causes they do care about, and their religious or spiritual beliefs.

Personal Control is a key

Resilient people spend their time and energy focusing on various situations and events that they have total control over. Because they put their efforts where they can have the most impact, they feel empowered and more confident. Those who spend time worrying about uncontrollable events can often feel lost, helpless, and powerless to take any form of action.

Overall, resilience gives one the ultimate power to overcome any form of setbacks, so that we can live the life we have always imagined and envisioned for ourselves.

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