“I am a fortunate man. Nothing in my life has been easy” (Sigmund Freud)
In life, sooner or later, we all deal with difficult events: the illness or death of a loved one, a romantic breakup, financial problems, the loss of a job, changes or crises, etc.
Resilienceis the human capacity to face, adapt successfully, and emerge stronger from adversity.
For resilient people there is no hard life, but rather difficult moments
Characteristics of resilient people
First, we should make clear that being resilient is not exactly as being resistant. There is a subtle difference between resilience and resistance. The latter implies rigidity while resilience connotes flexibility. Therefore, resilient people are not like rocks with standing the blows but flexible like bamboo, adapting to and overcoming adverse situations.
Resilient people are not what they have done but what they have overcome.
Resilient peoplegive themselves enough time to recover, they do not dwell on failures, they handle pressure and overcome sadness. They thrive despite challenges and have a sense of humor when facing challenging circumstances. They learn from mistakes and face life’s difficulties. They manage negative emotions and use coping skills to get through hard times.
Example of group resilience
After the tragedy that struck New York City (United States) on September 11,2001, America united politically and socially in an unprecedented way. This cohesive resilience is aremarkable example of how a group of people, or even a nation, can come together and rise from the ashes of disaster and reemerge transformed.
Example of individual resilience
During World War II, Viktor E. Frankl and his family were forced into several concentration camps. He was the only survivor. After being liberated, he wrote the book Man’s search for meaning (1946).
In this book, Frankl narrates the horrifying scenarios and subhuman conditions that he endured while he was imprisoned, exploring human nature in great detail while explaining that those for whom life had lost its meaning, had less of a chance at survival.
How to promote resilience?
According to psychologist Edith H. Grotberg, there are resilient-promoting factors that can be divided into three categories:
- I HAVE (external supports)
- I AM (inner strengths)
- I CAN (social and interpersonal skills)
The pillars of personal resilience (Wolin&Wolin, 1993)
- Insight: the ability to ask tough questions and give honest answers.
- Independence: being able to draw boundaries and keep emotional and physical distance from sources of trouble in one’s life.
- Relationships: making fulfilling connections to other people, and balancing the processes of give and take with those people.
- Initiative :taking charge and addressing problems head-on.
- Humor: finding the comic in the tragic.
- Creativity: using imagination and expressing oneself in art forms.
- Morality: a sense of obligation to contribute to the well-being of others.
The Road to Resilience
The American Psychiatric Association (APA), after the 9/11 tragedy, listedten ways to build resilience among Americans and provide them with effective tools to overcome adversity.
Resilience can be learned. It is a journey, not a single event or point in time. No two roads to resilience are alike.
- Make connections
- Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems
- Accept that change is a part of living
- Move toward your goals
- Take decisive actions
- Look for opportunities for self-discovery
- Nurture a positive view of yourself
- Keep things in perspective
- Maintain a hopeful outlook
- Take care of yourself
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”
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The Pygmalion effect refers to the more or less conscious interpretation and belief of how reality should be. We, therefore, adapt our behavior, thoughts and attitudes to meet expectations.