What is resilience and why does it matter?
Have you ever noticed how some people can seem to keep going against incredible odds? They have challenge after challenge and seem to spring up and keep going with a reasonably cheerful outlook on life.
Then there are others who break a nail and need a mental health day and have nothing positive to say about anything.
Of course there is also everything in the middle, I use the extremes on purpose. Challenges are a reality in everyone’s life! Covid-19 has highlighted our resilience or lack of it! Why do some people have the ability to work through things and others are devastated by the same type of circumstances?
I have learned that a key element is resilience.
the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
Resilience is the ability to recover from challenges. I like the words of the second definition, “the ability of a substance or object (or person) to spring back into shape”.
What does it take to knock you out of shape? Does stepping in cat puke when you get out of bed in the morning wreck your entire day? Does spilling your coffee before you have a sip? Does a bad mark on a project? An unkind word from a colleague or classmate? A criticism of your parenting or housekeeping skills? A forgotten anniversary or birthday? A burnt dinner? These are all small nagging things that can wear down your optimism about life and make you want to go back to bed!
What about being laid off from another job? Watching a relationship crumble? Getting that health diagnosis you didn’t want to hear? The phone call from a child in trouble? The bill for a repair you didn’t anticipate? Bigger things with more potential to derail you, yet you still can bounce back or crumble.
So what is resilience? What makes you able to return to some semblance of normal and continue on after a setback? Is it a substance that you have a certain amount of because of genetics or upbringing? Is it a skill you can develop or a muscle you can train?
“Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. As much as resilience involves “bouncing back” from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.
While these adverse events, much like rough river waters, are certainly painful and difficult, they don’t have to determine the outcome of your life. There are many aspects of your life you can control, modify, and grow with. That’s the role of resilience. Becoming more resilient not only helps you get through difficult circumstances, it also empowers you to grow and even improve your life along the way.” https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience
I feel like I was born with a high amount of resilience into a family with a lot of the same. Maybe there is a level of genetics or family legacy in the midst of it? I also navigated some tough things in my life that have allowed me to exercise that resilience and grow in it.
My take away from the reading I have done on resilience is that you will increase your ability to manage difficult situations if you are willing to learn and grow as you tackle them.
Children in foster care need resilience to succeed. They come into care through trauma. Then they are placed with an unfamiliar family and navigate the challenges of starting over in a new home and school. The hope and frustration of and working through reunification with family adds another level of challenge. We expect them to adapt and we encourage them to grow and find the positives as they learn. We see the effects of the refusal to grow when family can’t find a way to change their destructive patterns and work towards health. Resilience is a big deal.
Not everyone has the same capacity to bounce back. We need to give grace to those who are derailed by a spilled coffee and seek to learn from those who have come through a cancer diagnosis and are still smiling. The ability to cope with life shouldn’t be taken for granted by anyone. If you have found yourself bouncing back from life’s challenges I hope you have empathy for those who find it harder and lend your wisdom to those who need it! If you are feeling you just can’t cope with anything please reach out and let others lend you their strength until you can stand again.
In the midst of the mess,