What is resilience?
Resilience is the ability to be able to cope with or navigate your way through difficulties and crisis.
It essentially means you’re able to either bounce after a crisis or adapt to new circumstances.
Resilient people are able to understand what their body and mental state need and put in processes or modify their behaviour accordingly.
Why is resilience so important?
It’s a fact of life that we’ll all experience setbacks and challenges in life.
Whilst it’s true, some people will have more difficulties due to their circumstances of birth; it’s impossible to go through life without some form of hardship.
The loss of loved ones, relationship struggles, ill health and financial issues are all common themes we’ll probably all experience at some point.
Being resilient doesn’t make us impervious to stress or hurt. It just means we’re more able to cope, in spite of challenges that may be thrown our way.
It’s a sign of emotional strength.
Can you become more resilient?
The good news is resilience is something you can build.
Ironically, the more difficulties you have, the more you can develop your abilities to be resilient. You start to understand your emotional needs and put coping strategies in place.
I come from baby boomer parents and one trait I sometimes see in that generation is their emotional intelligence isn’t hugely strong. They were born in post-war years to people who had lived through horrific events and as a result a lot went unsaid.
If I had an emotional problem, I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. No one would have tried to help me or come to my rescue. They just didn’t understand.
I sometimes felt a bit envious of people whose parents would drop everything to give them emotional support and take care of them.
But now I look back, I realise that it made me very self-sufficient. On the flip side though, I struggle to ask for help when I need it and find it hard to show vulnerability.
I also feel my experience is quite common in people of my age and I see similar traits in my peers.
I think it’s only in recent years we’re starting to develop the language to talk about our emotions and understand our feelings.
Although the term ‘self-care’ is sometimes mocked, essentially it is the act of understanding our needs and putting that support in place. Even when it does mean opening up and asking for help.
7 ways to build resilience
So how can you build resilience to help you through difficult times?
- Remember that a crisis is not forever even though it may feel like it at the time. Life ebbs and flows and we have hard times as well as good.
- Change is part of life. There are 2 types of change: change that happens to us; and change we create for ourselves. Change that happens to us is harder to navigate because it can make us feel that we’re not in control of our own lives. Accept there are sometimes events and issues completely out of our control and consider what you are able to change yourself.
- Look for opportunities for self-development. Difficult times help us grow and can make us more empathetic. It’s worth reflecting on challenging situations once you have some distance and thinking about what we learnt or how the experience may have changed us.
- Understand that this is part of human experience – not just about you. I had my fair share of shitty times growing up and it knocked my self-esteem and made me feel powerless. I now realise I wasn’t singled out by the universe for some special negative attention; it’s just one part of my history and not my whole life.
- Try to keep things in perspective where you can and remember everything is relative. However, I do also think it’s important to feel your feelings and just because one person sailed through a similar situation doesn’t mean you should to. Our ability to cope with challenges is dependent on how we’re feeling at that moment and what else is going on in life. It is worth though trying to remind yourself that this won’t be forever.
- Be positive (where you can). Again, I’m not suggesting there’s always something to feel positive about – sometimes there really isn’t. Try to remember things will get better.
- Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle. Yes, I know it’s an inspirational quote cliche – however, hear me out… Let’s be honest, so many of our problems can generally be put down to the actions and behaviours of other people. Try not to let them grind you down and remember you, my friend deserve better than this.