How tough are you? When life is difficult, what do you do? Do you shut down and lose all hope? Or do you find a way to bounce back?
Are you aware that resilience is one of the most important skills you can develop? Resilience is an adaptive form of thinking. The greater your resilience, the easier it is to deal with the inevitable bad and unwanted things that happen in every life.
“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.” Gever Tulley (1969-present)
The storms of life
Life is much like the weather. There are periods of calm and storm, heat, comfort or cold, rain and wind, and the occasional random burst of calamity. With all the sophisticated computers and equipment, the best meteorologists still miss the mark in predicting the weather. It is a prediction, after all, not a fact!
Like predicting the weather, predicting when future storms and calamities in your life will come is challenging. The only thing you can be sure of is they will come. When they arrive and test your mettle, what can you do? This is where building your resilience comes into play. As in preparing for a storm or a hurricane, you can do plenty.
While it would be wonderful to sail through a never-ending calmness in life, how many of us get the chance? The inevitable storms of life take us places we have no desire to go. They toss and turn our life and are painful and difficult.
If you have been one of the few fortunate people to never face a storm in life, live a little longer. Given enough time, you will experience more than one. What can you do other than take shelter at such times? Prepare and adjust!
“She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.” Elizabeth Edwards (1949-2010)
What is resilience
The essence of resilience is the skill or ability to change when facing adversity. Adversity comes in many forms, including trauma, threats, health problems, home and workplace challenges, relationship issues, tragedy, the death of a loved one, and numerous other stressors. The Oxford Languages dictionary defines resilience as:
Resilience (noun) – 1, the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. 2. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
In short, with the danger of oversimplifying, resilience is an adaptive mode in which you develop the ability to deal with or overcome tension, resistance, and adversity. As in weight training, the more weight (resistance) added over time, the stronger (more resilient) you become.
“Resilience is very different than being numb. Resilience means you experience, you feel, you fail, you hurt. You fall. But, you keep going.” Yasmin Mogahed (1980-present)
Becoming more resilient
How do you become more resilient? The most direct route is learning by overcoming stress and adversity. You can also hone the skill of resilience by practicing some of the items on the following list. Many of them are supporting skills.
- Find a sense of purpose, seek meaning
- Develop a strong social network
- Be helpful to others
- Improve your emotional intelligence
- Develop mental toughness
- Be positive and optimistic
- Embrace change
- Face your fears
- Prepare for the worst
- Cultivate your ability to cope
- Learn to let go
- Learn when to say no
- Learn from failures
- Learn to follow through
- Develop a growth mindset
- Be a survivor and never give up
- Rid yourself of a victim mindset
- Become an overcomer
- Be disciplined
- Make plans and set goals
- Act, don’t procrastinate
- Take care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually
- Learn to live with reality
I’m sure you can add some items to this list. Use the list to develop strategies to increase your resilience.
Be realistic with yourself, as building resilience takes time. There are several types of resilience you can go to work on, including:
- Physical resilience
- Mental resilience
- Emotional resilience
- Spiritual resilience
- Social resilience
- Economic resilience
Give thought to strengths you have that you can build on. For example, say your social network is important. You could begin there and build a purposeful strategy to strengthen key relationships (social resilience.)
While working on these relationships, you can attempt to also strengthen one or more items from the above list, such as emotional intelligence, helping others, finding your purpose, or setting goals. This work will help you become more resilient when difficult times come, bearing the inevitable stress far better.
Take anything from the above list that resonates with you and work on it. Start small if you must, but start! You will not regret it when the next storm comes.
Some may want to avoid the topic of resilience, but when you accept how crucial it is to living a better life, you see it as necessary. This is not a “fun” subject, which is true with any difficult but essential skill or ability, such as the need to communicate well, be decisive, maintain discipline, develop self-control, and many others.
The work you do to enhance your resilience will pay significant dividends in your life and help you live a full, rich, and rewarding life.
I leave you with a final quote to think about:
“My scars remind me that I did indeed survive my deepest wounds. That in itself is an accomplishment. And they bring to mind something else, too. They remind me that the damage life has inflicted on me has, in many places, left me stronger and more resilient. What hurt me in the past has actually made me better equipped to face the present.” Steve Goodier (1962-present)
Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this article. Your ability to do so shows you are tough and resilient in your ability to read!