Resilience is the trait of heroes, propelling them push on, fight the good fight, overcome the obstacle, and save the day. For challenges big and small and for facing enemies internal and external, resilience is the key. Resilience is something many people want, but not everyone possesses.Some people are simply not resilient. They embrace a hardship and it destroys them. Playing the situation over and over in their head, they seem stuck and unable to move forward. In their minds, the situation will only ever be traumatic. They get beaten down and they stay down.Others are able to be resilient. They possess the ability to bounce back after facing adversity. They get knocked down, but they get up again and continue on. They adapt to the situation and use the hardship to come out the other side stronger.Even among those who are resilient, though, their ability to be resilient is not constant. In some situations, they are able to be resilient. In other situations, they fall short.Our ability to be resilient changes over time, depending on how we act and think. Resilience is made up of several components and by working on those areas in our lives, we can build up our ability to be resilient. Some of our ability comes from our personality (those who are easy going and intelligent tend to be more resilient) but there are other areas more in our control that we can affect. Develop yourself in these areas and you can become more resilient.
The Perception Component of Resilience
How we perceive events can impact us far greater than the event itself. As George Bonanno, a clinical psychologist at Columbia University’s Teachers College, says "we can make ourselves more or less vulnerable by how we think about things."Less resilient people commonly engage in ruminating over events, playing them over and over in their mind. They take a bad situation and make it worse, framing it in their mind as a highly traumatic event or a threat. This viewpoint makes it increasingly more difficult to find the positive in the situation or make something good out of it.Resilient people instead view the situation as a challenge, making it easier to deal with it and grow from it. They work on evaluating the situation as objectively and fairly as possible and use that as the baseline for their response (rather than building it up in their mind as traumatic). They remind themselves that they have a future and they have a choice in how they respond to the situation. More resilient people also are better at empathizing with others. Since they feel less alone in their pain, they are able to overcome their own pain faster.When you experience hardship, approach the situation as a learning opportunity. Ask yourself what you can take away from the event and how you can use the event for good.
The Emotional Component of Resilience
Being resilient is not about ignoring the bad and adopting a rosy-colored view of the world. It is not being in denial about your hardship so you can come out with a smile on your face.You should feel upset about your hardship - there is a reason it is a hardship. Resilient people still experience the negative emotions that come with an honest evaluation of the situation. But what separates them from non-resilient people is they also look for the positive. They do not let the negative fully define the situation or let negative emotions be all they experience.
To develop the emotional component of resilience, you can keep a gratitude journal or blog. Remembering the good in your life can help when everything feels like it is bad. Our brains are wired to give more value to negative events. It is a survival mechanism that can make it harder to see the good in situations. Most people experience positive events much more often, but it does not feel that way because of this imbalance. It's often said we need three heartfelt positive experiences to counteract one heart-wrenching trauma. By keeping a gratitude journal, we can work on noticing and valuing the positive things when they do happen. This strengthens our ability to look for the good and gives us something to turn to and refresh our memories when it all feels awful.
The Skill Set Component of Resilience
One surprising factor that most resilient people have in common is they excel in a talent that sets them apart. It can be playing an instrument, shooting a bow, smoking a mean piece of meat, something you can do better than most other people. Knowing there is something special about you can help you feel a bit better when you get down and make it harder to fall into the negative "I'm worthless, I have nothing to offer" self-talk when things go wrong. The practice of working hard at something to come out the other side better and stronger can also be a great parallel to working hard and pushing through a hardship.To develop this component, work on developing or honing a skill. Learn how to smoke meat or build a fire without man-made tools. Pick a new hobby you can develop as a way to strengthen your resilience.
The Social Component of Resilience
For people going through rough times, leaning on someone who believes in them can make all the difference in their ability to be resilient. Men even more than women need external emotional support and struggle to succeed without it. You may not be used to relying on others. Maybe you are used to being that rock for your loved ones. But it is okay, and sometimes even necessary, to be able to get that support from others.People who form and maintain relationships are able to reach out when they need it, setting themselves up to be more resilient. Be proactive in maintaining connections with supportive people in your life, whether it's a family member, friend, co-worker, or partner.The flip side of the social component of resilience is being able to help others. When you help others, it helps you feel as if you are not so alone while getting some perspective that others are struggling in life too. It helps you avoid the "this is the worst thing that could happen to me, my life is now over" mentality. Volunteering in your local community can always be beneficial for you, but especially so during times of hardship.
The Physical Component of Resilience
Our ability to be resilient is affected by our physical state. When we take care of our health, get good sleep, and manage our stress well, we are better equipped to handle hardship. Think about how clearly you can think when you are running on a terrible night's sleep or haven't eaten all day. It's not very good.
Consistently taking care of your body sets you up to be at your best when things are at their worst. Spend time exercising, such as creating a rucking routine. Eat healthy and quality foods. Manage your stress well. Do what you need to in order to maintain good physical health so that you can be more resilient.Working on each of these components of resilience can help you become more resilient. You can improve your ability to push through challenges and come out stronger. You can use resilience to become the hero in your own story.