Which mental picture does the concept of “resilience” evoke for you? The famous Timex commercial with the tagline “It takes a licking but keeps on ticking!” came to mind. Or perhaps you contemplate the resilient individuals you most admire.
I’m curious as to what makes them unique. Those who are resilient are able to handle adversity, both big and minor, without showing signs of being rattled or angered.
It Takes A Licking And Keeps on Ticking
While nobody is completely safe from stress, how we deal with it is fascinating to see. You may be familiar with the Buddhist allegory about the man who is shot with an arrow, but the point isn’t that bad things happen to people; rather, it’s about how they react to it.
Do we, in other words, respond to an arrow by firing an even larger arrow at ourselves? Since that no one person can ever achieve such an ideal, striving for perfection is a futile endeavour.
Then again, why not try to improve somewhat each time? Moreover, what can we, as a society, learn from the resilient few in the midst of a crisis like the current coronavirus pandemic?
These are the types of people who can take a punch, no matter how large or tiny, and then quickly get back up again. It is my experience that even the most resilient individuals experience some degree of sadness following a significant loss like the death of a loved one.
Yet those who are resilient rarely suffer from extended sadness and typically take away valuable lessons from traumatic experiences. One of the most important traits of resilient people is their ability to grow from adversity.
My Impression is That the Brain Operates Like a Sophisticated Pattern Recognition Computer.
We are presented with situations of a certain type and react accordingly. Many of our most deeply ingrained mental and emotional habits were formed during our formative years.
Those who are able to bounce back from adversity do so because they learned at a young age how to approach challenges constructively and incorporate their learnings into their pattern machine.
I believe that folks who are emotionally robust are more open to trying out novel experiences for the sake of building their emotional capital.
Those who are less resilient are less able to cope with a variety of challenges, and instead often rely on the same coping mechanisms they developed at an early age.
As Luck Would Have it, Resilience is in Plentiful Supply.
As a doctor, I was often astounded by the tenacity of my patients in the face of terminal disease. I shall not attempt to answer the question of whether resilience is innate or learned.
In spite of this, I believe that it is possible to impart a great deal of resilience on people of any age. Developing habits of resilience is simpler when one is young. Those of you who are parents, for instance, are familiar with the situation in which your child has a minor injury, such as a scrape or bruise, after falling.
I think children’s worldviews are influenced by the parents’ responses to various situations. If a parent overreacts to a slight injury, they may be teaching their child that any accident, no matter how minor, is a major catastrophe that requires the intervention of an outside party.
On the other hand, when a parent remains level-headed and assures their child that everything is going to be okay and that they should get up and continue doing what they were doing before, the child learns to rely on her own strength in the face of adversity and develops greater resilience.
Curiosity, joy, forgiveness, optimism, and practical problem-solving have all been linked to increased resilience. Those who are less resilient are more prone to give in to the stress and experience unpleasant emotions including fear, rage, helplessness, and victimisation.
Several “main predictors of resilience,” including a positive and proactive personality, a sense of control, the ability to change and adapt, a healthy sense of perspective, and a strong network of friends and family, were identified in interviews with highly successful people, according to one study.
In addition to their work, high achievers were found to have several extracurricular interests. These included hobbies, physical activity, and social gatherings with friends and family.