What is Resilience Made Of

Someone suggested that it would be valuable to write about the hard economic climate we’re all facing. In thinking on this subject I started with the basic concept that informs a lot of my work – that there are events in life (what life throws at us) and the way we react to those events. As AA puts it – “learning to live life on life’s terms.”

How is it that some folks manage to weather the storms with seemingly less effect on their sense of well- being? One key is the way that one regards challenges. Are they seen as hurdles? Or roadblocks? I was so impressed the other day by my daughter’s characterization of a problem as the “hurdles” we’re facing. To me it was an indicator of a strong sense of self and an optimistic and empowered attitude.

In studying resilience psychologists have found certain common characteristics for those who are unusually resilient. The “Harvard Women’s Healthwatch” cites the following characteristics of resilient individuals – authenticity, willingness to accept responsibility, acceptance of change, responsiveness, faith in themselves, ability to take risks and belief in the transcendent.

These are some of the attitudes and attributes that provide a foundation for resilience. And the good new is that these qualities can be developed. In the next post we’ll talk about how one can further enhance one’s resilience. Here are how these qualities manifest themselves:

  1. Authenticity – A strong sense of self where one isn’t dependent on outside factors to maintain a good feeling about their identity.

  2. Willingness to accept responsibility – Not seeing oneself as a victim even if one is in no way responsible for the situation such as a natural disaster. Viewing the situation as a challenge to be dealt with and taking whatever responsibility one can to take positive action.

  3. Responsiveness – being open to what’s going on around one and with others so that one can adapt to changes.

  4. Ability to take risks – being creative or entrepreneurial in attempting a course of action.

  5. Faith in themselves – not getting blocked by questioning whether one can meet the challenge but simply moving ahead, knowing others before them have faced daunting tasks and overcome them.

  6. Acceptance of change – one of the constants in life and viewing it as an opportunity.

  7. Belief in the transcendent – which does not necessarily have to be an organized belief system but can be an appreciation of art, music, nature or humanity itself coupled with the belief that life is worthwhile.

Merry Frons