The difference between a strong man and a weak one is that the former does not give up after a defeat.
– Woodrow Wilson
Imagine this. You are walking down a desert road on a sunny day. It is sweltering and you are sweating profusely.
Just when it becomes too tough to continue, you pull out an energy drink from your backpack, and after a few sips, suddenly feel energized to walk further without any fatigue.
In life too, you sometimes need an energy drink when you face big challenges and setbacks. That energy drink is resilience or the ability to fight adversity and bounce back.
According to mental health experts, people with resilience don’t just overcome adversity but they come out much stronger after a catastrophic event.
It is normal for all of us to face changes or losses in life. No matter who you are and what you do, there will always be some challenges and setbacks. Often, they are minor, but there are times when people face catastrophic or life-altering events such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, or a pandemic outbreak like COVID-19.
It is your ability to deal with such problems that determines not only the outcome but also their long-term impact on your life.
Have you ever taken a ride on a roller-coaster or a high slide in a water park?
Some people scream and cry for help during the ride while others laugh and enjoy the moment. Everybody is on the same spin, but some remain calm while others get agitated. People who stay in control even in the face of perceived danger are considered resilient by psychologists.
If you are resilient, you are likely to achieve success in any situation.
However, a lack of resilience can easily overwhelm and defeat you in adverse situations. People without resilience tend to focus on the problem instead of thinking of effective crisis management.
What do we get from resilience?
Resilience does not refer to a power that can eliminate stress or challenges from your life. Resilient people don’t have superpowers or a magic wand.
It is only the ability to understand the inevitability of setbacks and the realization that life can sometimes hand us lemons.
Nobody has forgotten the tsunami that hit Asian shores in 2004. It killed hundreds of thousands of people and changed millions of lives forever. Similarly, Hurricane Katrina ravaged vast areas in the US in 2005. Despite that, these two events brought out the incredible resilience of the human race.
People survived them, moved on, and provided emotional support to others who found it tough to come to terms with the same.
Importance of Resilience
A lot of people believe resilience is an extraordinary power, a personality trait that can make anyone a winner and turn failures into successes.
Resilience is not a one-stop-solution for problems, but it is an excellent quality to have. The best thing about it is that you can develop it over time.
Bouncing back aka Resilience
There are moments when one feels devastated. The emotions of hurt, defeat, failure and heartbreak take over. Yet, instead of getting buried under such an avalanche of negativity, we get back on our feet and keep moving on.
A common example of someone bouncing back is when a person suffers a critical illness or a severe injury. Under such conditions, the person’s positivity and self-belief are critical for recovery.
Types of Resilience:
Resilience has various aspects to it and each aspect helps us in different ways.
Some people are born resilient. If you have inherent resilience, you are unlikely to be afraid of tough situations and will learn from them instead. You take risks that others don’t. Children in their formative years are usually great examples of inherent resilience.
This resilience is not inherent but built during times of drastic change. For instance, a person might be made redundant from a cushy job one day. Overnight, he goes from a star employee to a job hunter. Or a long-term relationship could end suddenly, and you may hit a low emotionally. Cultivated resilience is the ability to manage the trauma caused by a sudden setback.
This is the resilience that one develops over a span of time, and you learn to deploy it based on past experiences. We need to learn when to use this, and how to use this during a crisis. This kind of resilience helps us discover strengths that we didn’t know existed.
You can do a number of things to develop resilience and reduce the impact that stress has on your life. For instance, you can change your attitude and lifestyle. It is always better to be more assertive and straightforward with people.
If you face unreasonable demands, there is no need to hesitate in making yourself clear and denying such demands. You should focus on relaxation and indulge in activities that make you calm. For instance, you can take a dip in the pool or watch your favorite show or anything else that gets you in the groove.
Hobbies and interests are a great way of becoming resilient. Ensure that you spend time unwinding with family and friends. Harness the power of a support group and periodically assess how things are aligned in your life.
There is no more significant enabler for us than a fit body. Sleep well, and become physically active. Regular exercise and eating nutritious food in the right quantity can protect you from various diseases and increase your productivity even under duress.
Pampering and rewarding yourself is as important as receiving acknowledgment from others. You need to resolve conflicts whether they are long-running or recent. Even if you don’t achieve the goals you set, it doesn’t call for self-punishment. Remember that we continuously improve, and nobody is born perfect.
There are times when we feel that problems are surrounding us from all sides. It starts becoming unbearable and we might even begin to crumble under pressure. However, if we learn about ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, and keep ourselves distracted from negative thoughts, engage with our go-to people and do things we love, we can actively move towards building resilience. Knowing how to cope can help overcome adverse situations quickly.
There can’t be a life without some challenges and setbacks. It is our resilience that lets us bounce back from them.