Resilience can be defined as the ability to cope with stressors, and then return to the pre-crisis state. How we respond to setbacks can be an important key in our self-esteem, our belief in our abilities, and our interpretation of the stressful event in the first place. As we have learned more about how the human brain and body copes with stress, trauma, grief, and setbacks, we have increasingly seen the importance of resilience. We have also learned that resilience is not necessarily a fixed trait that people either have, or don’t have, but is rather a series of beliefs and decisions that can be cultivated and improved upon.
Of course human life involves hardship and obstacles. How we respond and react can be turning points and opportunities to grow and learn from. Resilience involves the ability to look objectively at these hardships, strategize and plan for a way to cope, and follow through on that plan. It is not a passive experience, but a many factored approach that can be more accurately looked at as how many times you are able to get back up after being knocked down. Its not easy, but there are ways to learn, improve, and refine your resilience abilities.
Psychologist Martin Seligman, known for his work in Positive Psychology, identified the “3 P’s” of resilience: Personalization, Permanence, and Pervasiveness. When faced with a crisis or trauma, human beings may naturally personalize the experience, and it can be an active effort to realize that outside factors played into the event – it is not wholly on your shoulders. Humans also have a tendency to think that the state of emotion or mindset that they are in is a permanent experience, that if you are sad and anxious today, you may feel sad and anxious forever. In reality, moods and emotions tend to be more like waves, peaking and cresting, and subsiding as well. Emotions are transient, and those that view setbacks as temporary tend to bounce back faster. Human beings also have a tendency to view things globally. When we start our day off on the wrong foot, we tend to see everything that goes wrong that day as further evidence that it is a “Bad Day.” However, experiences are rarely pervasive, and having the ability to identify aspects of ones’ life that isn’t impacted by the stressor can help reduce the time spent in that negative mindset.
Speaking of mindset, this is an important factor as well. Dr. Carol Dweck wrote about the importance of Mindset in her book, and those that have a “growth” mindset are able to recover faster than those who have a “fixed” mindset, or believe more in the permanence of state, as mentioned above. Resilience can be cultivated through support from others, taking time to put things in perspective (often through actions like journaling, therapy, etc), and engaging in self-care. When something bad happens, we look for reasons, and when we can’t find the reasons, we blame ourselves. Allowing ourselves the time and space to feel, process the feelings, and nurture ourselves can help build resilience and recover from setbacks easier.
Therapeutic care can be helpful in developing a self-care routine, building resilience, addressing mindset, and putting life into perspective. We are here to help guide you along this path!