What is Resilience

“Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.

Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. People commonly demonstrate resilience. One example is the response of many Americans to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and individuals’ efforts to rebuild their lives.

Being resilient does not mean that a person doesn’t experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain and sadness are common in people who have suffered major adversity or trauma in their lives. In fact, the road to resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress.

Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.”

-The America Psychological Association

“Resilience is the power to adapt well to adversity. It is the process of coping with and managing tragedy and crisis in your life. It is ‘bouncing back’ from hard times, whether these be national disasters, such as the current financial crisis, a hurricane, or a terrorist attack, or personal disasters such as bankruptcy, divorce, or the death of a loved one.

Research since September 11th suggests that resilience may be much more common than we thought. Although certain forms of temperament may be inherited that may help people to be more resilient in a crisis, and although certain forms of psychiatric or cognitive disorders may interfere with the learning of these skills, most of what makes up resilience is learned and can be taught. This is especially true of one of the key components of resilience: Optimism. Being optimistic does not mean that we look at the world through rose-colored glasses or that we avoid pain or do not experience intense emotions when going through a crisis. Just the opposite. Resilient individuals are aware of their feelings and are able to discharge and manage them as well as deal with and manage others in a crisis.

Resilience does not involve avoiding one’s feelings; it involves confronting and managing them. Being able to use thinking as a way of managing emotion is a major part of resilience.”

-From Duct Tape Isn’t Enough by Dr. Ron Breazeale

Image Credit: Mushrooms by Moyen Brenn CC BY