Resilience refers to a person’s ability to deal with life’s adversities and crises such as a death in the family, major health problem or losing a job. It is the process of effectively recovering from an adverse situation. Resilience refers to a person’s willingness and mindset to “bounce back” to normalcy after facing a tragic or challenging situation.
The American Psychological 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”. According to Luthar et al (2000), Resilience refers to a “dynamic process encompassing positive adaptation within the context of significant adversity”.
Research shows that a person’s level of resilience depends on both environmental and personal factors. For example, Seph (2016) states that factors such as personality types, attitude, self-concept, childhood experiences, culture, and social support determine resilience. Consequently, people differ in their reaction(s) to traumatic or stressful events in life. Hence, resilience differs from person to person.
Experts also state that resilience changes over times. As a person goes through different life stages, the degree of resilience also changes depending on family support, relationships, one’s self-confidence, and attitude towards life. In fact, resilience is largely dependent on a person’s innate capacity to deal with life’s problems. Many support the fact that resilience is self-driven and depends on positive mindset.
For example, a study by Sarah Bond and Gillian Shapiro conducted among 835 employees from public, private, and nonprofit firms in Britain revealed that 90 percent of the employees responded that their reserves for resilience came from self, whereas 50 percent said from their relationships and 10 percent from their organization. (Andrea Ovans, 2015, HBR)
Essential Factors for building Resilience
Indeed resilience is self-cultured. In my opinion, resilience stems from three essential factors namely Experience, Effort, and Expectation
Resilience = Experience x Effort x Expectation
These 3 E’s contribute to the level of resilience a person exhibits.
We learn from our experiences. The good and the bad experiences that we go through in life teach us to react to situations in different manners. The love and support we get from our family members and friends prepare us to meet crises with an inner strength. We develop resilience based on personal past experiences and those of others. Reflecting on our experiences will help us to build resilience.
We will be able to handle most of our life situations with perseverance and focused efforts from our side. Hence, carrying a positive attitude and self-worth goes a long way in being resilient. Developing healthy habits in terms of moral spiritual health, meditation, or self-analysis will help in building resilience.
Most times, our resilience is punctured because of our expectations from people, events, or life itself. We misplace our hopes and desires and when things do not go as we thought, we tend to react emotionally. When a person is aware of one’s own abilities and the limitations of friends and families, we will be able to deal with life events in an effective manner. If we are able to segment our expectations in terms of individual person or event, we will be able to develop resilience.
Hence, remember the 3 E’s for building resilience in you.
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American Psychological Association. 2018. The Road to Resilience. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.aspx.
Luthar, SS., Cicchetti, D. and Becker, B. (2000). The Construct of Resilience: A Critical Evaluation and Guidelines for Future Work. Child Development, 71 (3): 543–562. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1885202/Teachers College, Columbia Univ
Seph. 2016. Do you Bounce Back? Find out with a Resiliency Questionnaire!. Positive Psychology Program, Retrieved from: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/resiliency-questionnaire/