What is resilience and why is it important?

When faced with adversity in life, how does a person cope or adapt? Why do some people seem to bounce back from tragic events or loss much more quickly than others?

The term given to being able to cope, adapt and recover from adverse events in our lives is resilience. A person with good resilience has the ability to bounce back quicker and with less stress from the adversities of life. As opposed to letting difficulties, traumatic events or failure overcome them and drain their resolve.

Why do we need resilience?

Being resilient doesn’t mean you won’t experience adversity, but having resilience can buffer the adverse effects of stressful life events. Highly resilient people understand setbacks happen and sometimes life is hard and painful. They still experience the emotional pain, grief and sense of loss that comes after a tragedy, but their mental outlook allows them to work through such feelings and recover.

Building better resilience

While genetics do have some influence in the development of wellbeing and resilience, the good news is that resilience can be built.

Below are some steps you can take to help build more resilience:

Reframe your thoughts - resilient people are able to look at negative situations realistically, in a way which doesn’t place blame or dwell on what cannot be changed.

  • Instead of seeing the adversity as insurmountable, find a small step you can take to tackle the problem in small pieces.

  • Focus on the positive the situation presents. What new opportunities can be found? What can this situation teach you? Choose to find the good in the situation.

  • Learn from failure. Failure is not a negative, it is actually a positive - it shows us what hasn’t worked, or what isn’t right – it’s not wrong, it’s just a sign post.

Seek support - having a network of people you can trust and confide in is important for building resilience.

  • Try talking to a friend or loved one about the difficulties you are coping with. It won’t make those difficulties go away, but sharing can make you feel like you are less alone.

  • When we discuss our difficulties with someone it may help you gain insight, a new perspective or even new ideas to help you better manage the challenges you’re dealing with.

Focus on what you can control – ensuring you are spending your time and energy on things you can control, as opposed to dwelling on what you cannot.

  • Instead of wishing there was a way to change things, try focusing only on the things that are in your control. What can you do right now? What one small action can you take now?

  • Taking even just one step to help improve the situation, however small this step may be, can improve your sense of control and resilience. It doesn’t matter where you start, or if the conditions are not perfect, it just matters that you start.

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