Wellness Monday: Resilience Defined (1 of 3)


As promised last week, this is the first week in a mini series on psychological resilience. In this post I’ll address: what it is, who has it, and why it matters. Let’s get going!

What is resilience? In the past I introduced resiliency as the coping strategy and management of adversity. Let’s define it further.

Resilience has to do with all human’s capacity to essentially “bounce back” and deal well with stress in the face of tough times, tragedy, and traumatic events. You have it. I have it. We all do. Isn’t that nice?

Who is resilient? Luckily it is not a personality trait, something that you either have or don’t. Rather, it is an ability that people possess on a ranging scale. You may imagine your own place on a continuum of resilience, from very little to very much. Wherever you envision yourself, be gracious about your placement because it is not permanent. You are able to encourage more resilience.

A little history. Resilience was first noticed and discussed in psychological research beginning in the 1970s. Garmezy mentioned it initially as he was researching the reasons why some people fall ill while others do not (epidemiology). Soon after, Werner used resiliency at greater length when a portion of at risk children in Kauai flourished despite poor conditions.

I often think of resilience as the more positive outcome of post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Both resilience and PTSD are defined essentially by the statement that, “trauma is not defined by what occurs as much as how we experience what has occurred”(Moving Beyond Trauma, Hering, 10). Different experiences of traumatic experiences are largely hinged upon the individual’s interpretation of that experience.

For example, highly resilient people demonstrate (Wikipedia):

  1. Good outcomes despite high-risk status
  2. Constant competence under stress
  3. Recovery from trauma
  4. Use of challenges for growth that makes future hardships more tolerable

Why does it matter? Well, resiliency and fostering more resilience is a way to fortify against the inevitable ups and downs of life.

According to the APA (American Psychological Association), there are ways to strengthen your innate resilience. They are as follows: make connections, avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems, accept the things you cannot change, move toward your goals, take decisive actions, find positive ways to reduce stress and negative feelings, look for opportunities for self-discovery, nurture a positive self-view, maintain a hopeful outlook, and other helpful tools you find in your personal journey to recovery. Read more here.

Stay tuned for week 2 when I share amazing stories of resilience next week and an entertaining video that will give you practical and interactive ways to grow your resilience!


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