Suddenly, so many of us are wondering why we need resilience, even when we're struggling to cope with endless change and challenges. The good news is that it's never too late to become more resilient.
What is resilience?
Before we think about why we need resilience, we should probably take a second to clarify what it is.
It’s usually summed up as our capacity to recover from difficult life events.
This ability to not only recover, but to be prepared for and bounce back from those moments when life has a habit of blindsiding us with those curveballs that often come from nowhere.
Does that sound familiar? Ring a bell, certainly over the last little while?!
It’s easy to assume that we need to be strong and resilient only for the tough times in life. Something bad happens, and we try and call on that strength to get us through. The trouble is, if we’re not constantly developing our resilience-reserves, we may well find ourselves depleted of resilience when we need it most.
So resilience isn’t a ‘one and done’ kind of thing; something that we only focus on developing during adversity, although many of us do exactly that. We plough ahead, in auto-pilot mode, doing what we’ve always done. Then suddenly, the curveball hits and if we’re lucky, we begin to understand why we need resilience.
Why do we need resilience?
Our levels of resilience changes throughout our lives. We might get frustrated that we’re not coping as well as others or perhaps surprise ourselves by overcoming a particularly difficult situation. In this sense, resilience can often feel a bit like a trampoline. Particularly during turbulent times, our adrenaline plays its part to make us feel like we’re up one minute and down the next.
If 2020 and much of this year has taught us anything – if we choose to learn – it’s that too many of us neglect our levels of resilience.
Yes, recent times have been particularly ‘challenging’, yet the truth is that we have all faced personal and professional trauma in the past and *SPOILER ALERT* we will again. It’s about consciously developing a ready and steady stock of resilience for when we need it most.
Why? Because truly resilient people understand that the bad things will still happen in life. It’s not about ignoring them, sticking our head in the sand or pretending that stuff isn’t happening.
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How can we develop more resilience?
Developing our resilience doesn’t mean that we won’t experience stress – sorry in advance if you came here looking for that silver bullet – we’ll still experience emotional upheaval and suffering in our lives. The difference is that when we’re better equipped, resilience will help us to work through the emotional pain and trauma that we all have.
Another thing that truly resilient people understand is that they can consciously choose where to focus their energy. In a world of chaos that can feel so out of control for so much of the time, often where we focus our energy is the only real choice that we have. So resilient people use their internal resources, skills and strength towards overcoming the challenges and setbacks that they are thrown.
Finally, it then comes down to whether we are helping or harming ourselves through the coping mechanisms that we choose to lean on when times get tough.
This presents another choice point: do we choose to develop more of the healthy or the unhealthy coping strategies? For those of us who lack resilience, we might rely on damaging coping techniques like avoiding reality, isolating ourselves or self-medication. Whereas when we’re accessing our resilience-reserves in a healthy way, we might ask for help from our support network, actively manage the conflicts in our lives or take control over what is controllable around us (thereby not focusing on the uncontrollable).