Resilience Q. & A.’s

What is resilience?

The American Psycological Association defines resilience as  “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.”

Are you born with it?

Resilience is not innate; you are not born with it. That is not to say that some folks aren’t predisposed to have more qualities that may contribute to resilient behavior. Resilience is largely learned. We learn it by experiencing challenges and adversity and working through it.

Are resilient people happier?

Not necessarily. Being resilient does not mean that a person has lived a charmed life free of difficulty. It is quite likely that he/she/they have lived a challenging life and have learned behaviors and strategies that bring them successfully out on the other side of those challenges experiencing growth as opposed to trauma. To the extent that this may lead an individual to be happier, it may be true in that case.

Why is resilience important?

When systems and people can weather stressors and traumatic events, they continue to function well in their daily encounters with challenges. Take for example the city water system. If pipes have been damaged by an event (a flood for example) and a dry spell is encountered and demand for water is high, the system might break leaving no water available. People are more complicated but not much different. If ones strength has been diminished by an unprocessed traumatic event and on its heals comes a challenged more ordinary, one might not have the resources to respond effectively.

What happens if traumatuc events go unprocessed?

Our colleague, Dr. Richard Lumb, would respond Accumulated Stress, Adversity and Trauma (ASAT), the foundation for PTSD.  It’s just as its name implies. ASAT, unaddressed, can reach critical levels. It can lead to a wide range of issues from calling in sick to work, performance issues at work and home, substance abuse, physical illness and in some cases even death.

How can ASAT’s be addressed?

Resilience training is a way to improve one’s response to adversity and trauma and address ASAT’s.  It is a way to provide essential skills to assist in managing crisis and reducing everyday stress and ultimately improving effectiveness in meeting job and personal demands associated with work, family, and community. It is a way to restore balance in ones life and encourages Post Traumatic Growth (PTG).

What is Post Traumatic Growth (PTG)?

According tot the Post Taraumatic Growth Research Group, PTG is “positive change experienced as a result of the struggle with a major life crisis or a traumatic event. Although we coined the term posttraumatic growth, the idea that human beings can be changed by their encounters with life challenges, sometimes in radically positive ways, is not new. The theme is present in ancient spiritual and religious traditions, literature, and philosophy. What is reasonably new is the systematic study of this phenomenon by psychologists, social workers, counselors, and scholars in other traditions of clinical practice and scientific investigation.”