Life is certainly not easy. When we are born, we’re not provided with instructions on how to live, how to face struggle, and how to be happy. But even when facing the most devastating storm in our lives, we are always able to find our way out. That capacity to thrive despite the hard times or bounce back from adversity is called resilience.
That strength ultimately defines who we are, and scary as it might be, without any challenges in our lives we don’t really get to know how strong we are and what we’re really capable of.
Resilience is the ability of recovering from unpleasant and negative experiences that happen to us. However, there is a common misconception surrounding this concept: Being able to face adversity and recover from it does not mean that we don’t suffer–it actually means that we’re able to work through that suffering or problems.
According to the Oxford dictionary, the word resilience can be defined in two different ways:
- The ability of people or things to recover quickly after something unpleasant, such as shock, injury, etc.
- The ability of a substance to return to its original shape after it has been bent, stretched or pressed.
Resiliency Can Improve Our Lives
Adversity is inherent to life. Not only humans, but animals and even plants face adversity, and resilience is the tool that helps them survive. Learning, growing, and recovering from that which can hurt us, is what makes us truly resilient. The importance of resilience lies in the fact that it helps us develop the instruments to deal with highly stressful and difficult situations.
Even though we are born with the innate ability to face struggle and take risks, resilience is something we build. It’s not a personality trait that only some people have; it is something that each one of us need to work on to become better. Whether in a laboral environment or in other areas of life, benefits of resilience can include: Improved learning capabilities, lowering the risk of excessive drinking/smoking and drug abuse.
Building Resilience – Life Does Not Become Easier, But We Become Stronger
There is probably no better way to understand what resilience is. Building resilience is not a secret formula to make your life easier (which is something we don’t have control of). It is rather a way to better prepare ourselves for what’s out there. As you get more resilient, you learn to handle every situation in a better way, and without letting it affect you as much as it would if you’re not prepared.
Among many other historic characters, Thomas Edison is a great example of resiliency. Without its ability to cope with difficulties, there is no doubt that he wouldn’t have been able to do what he did. Can you imagine what the world would be like if he had given up? No light bulbs, no phonograph, no telegraph and the list goes on.
Focus On What You Have Control Over
There are times in life when you can feel stuck, as if things will never change and can only get worse. Resiliency can help you cope with that feeling and it gives you the tools to bounce back from those situations. But, if you’re not honest with yourself about it, it becomes very difficult to find the right balance and get afloat.
The more resilient you become, the easier it’ll be for you to spend your time and energy only on what you can control. It sounds logical and makes complete sense when you think about it, but when you’re in a situation that makes you feel powerless and without any control, it becomes really hard to focus. Over time, resiliency will help you focus your efforts on the situations that have the most impact. So, whenever you feel overwhelmed by something, remember this:
Those who spend time worrying about the uncontrollable tend to feel lost and helpless.
Resilience And Psychological Strength
The psychological benefits of resiliency are not a mystery. The more resilient you are, the easier it is to maintain a positive outlook of the future, which is something that can be reflected in other areas of your life and even the way people perceive you. Being able to envision brighter days ahead is a great trait that can lead you to a better, happier life.
Besides the optimism, which is not to be confused with overoptimism, there are other great traits that you can gain from being resilient; the ability to visualize solid goals and the desire to move towards them, empathy and compassion (without worrying about what others think), and last but not least, the ability to maintain healthy relationships.
The way we view adversity affects how we respond to it. Consequently, a better response translates into a better outcome. To better illustrate how this works think of these examples:
- Breakups can be devastating, especially if you considered the other person to be the love of your life. When you’re going through a situation like this, you basically have two options; do nothing and let pain take the best of you, or work on improving yourself, no matter how hard it is. What option do you think it’s going to have a better impact in your life?
- Failure is a dreading word, but we all fail at times. Whenever you fail you are also presented with two options; cry over it, or learn from that mistake to make sure you never do it again. What option do you think will get you closer to success?
The fact that we’re going to get hurt, and fail from time to time is inevitable. But the way you perceive these negative situations will have an effect on your ability to bounce back. It’s not easy, it requires some work on your part, but it is definitely worth it.
Resiliency is valuable and extremely important in every aspect of our lives—The ability to face our fears, to break through our limitations, and to make a real impact in our lives and the lives of those around us. By learning how to focus only on the things we can control, we start to let go of that which only holds us back.
Think of resiliency as the psychological tool you need to succeed in life. Just like with any other tool, the more experienced you are, the more skilled and resourceful you become.