Resiliency: Bouncing Back

Emotional Wellness Image

Resiliency: Bouncing Back

All individuals, regardless of who they are, the challenges they encounter or where they come from, have the human capacity and personal power to face, overcome, grow and bounce back from adversity, stress, or trauma. This is known as resilience.

One 15-year-old high school student referred to resilience as "bouncing back from problems and stuff with more power and more smarts."

Resiliency Factors

There are many factors that contribute to being resilient. These resilience factors will help you draw from your personal strengths to better prepare for, live through and learn from adversity.

  • Trust
    Trusting others and yourself is the foundation of being resilient. When you trust others, you let go of the need to control what other people do and say and instead focus on yourself. When you trust yourself, you feel better about you are and confident in the decisions you make.
  • Identity
    Establishing your own identity based on what you value is vital to living through adversity. A sense of identity helps you know the limits of what you can and can’t handle and affirms your right and need to be your own advocate.
  • Independence
    Having a sense of independence is empowering because you do not seek the approval or advice from others. You are comfortable in asking people for support but don’t expect them to solve your problems. Independence lets you take action based on your own needs, not the needs of others.
  • Relationship/Support Systems
    Relationships can become more important when we are faced with difficult times. Relationships that are based on trust, respect and appreciation are vital to being resilient. Solid relationships can decrease the feeling that you have to face life’s challenges on your own.
  • Initiative and Problem Solving Skills
    It is important to be able to recognize what your needs are and the steps needed to get them met. Moving into action and problem solving is vital in being resilient because it gets you unstuck. Being able to problem solve helps you learn to master the skills necessary to solve problems and also makes you more likely to share your thoughts and feelings with others, talk with others, use support systems (friends, family, professors, etc.), reach out for help and develop good social skills.

Having A Plan

If you are dealing with a difficult task or situation, develop a plan that will help you prepare, live through and learn from the situation.

Here are some questions to ask yourself or to write out in a journal:

When preparing for a difficult task or situation, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I think is going to be the outcome of this difficult task/situation?
  • Who will be affected by this problem and how?
  • What are the obstacles that I need to overcome to deal with this problem?
  • Who should know about the task or situation?
  • Who can provide assistance?
  • What inner strengths do I have that I can rely on?
  • What skills do I and others need to use to get through this task/situation?

When living through a difficult task or situation, ask yourself these questions:

  • How am I feeling today?
  • How are the people involved handling the situation?
  • What new actions need to be planned or taken?
  • What resilience factors will you draw on as you live through the problem? Fill in the blanks: I have... I can... I am....

When learning from a difficult task or situation, ask yourself these questions:

  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • What did you learn about your friends?
  • What did you learn about support services?

Each time we live through adversity, we learn something new about ourselves and are more prepared for the next challenge we face. Building resilience never stops. We all become more resilient as we are challenged and faced with the need to draw on our ability to trust, build relationships, affirm our identity and independence and take initiative to problem solve. Remember, being resilient doesn’t protect you from pain and suffering, but it can trigger responses that help you face, overcome and be transformed from adversity.

Something to Think About

Often life’s meaning is made clear by a particular event, and from that event emerges a personal mission statement or plan. What is your personal mission statement?

Bottom Line

Resilience is about drawing upon your personal strengths to transform difficult or challenging events into learning experiences.

Ten Tips to Building Resilience

As you use these tips, keep in mind that each person's journey along the road to resilience will be different - what works for you may not work for others.

Online Resources

Source: Tapping Your Inner Strength, How to Find the Resilience to Deal with Anything, by Edith Henderson Grotberg, Ph.D.