How do we deal with difficult events that put our inner strength to test? Getting fired, losing a loved one, separating, being diagnosed with a serious health problem; everyone has gone through a challenge in their lives and everyone has the power to overcome them. Some people however, have an additional internal shield that makes them more “resilient «and ready to rise again and move on.
Psychological resilience is defined as ” the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means «bouncing back” from difficult experiences.” (American Psychological Association -APA).
Studies have shown that resilient people maintain the belief that the difficult times and crises are a normal part of life and that the most effective way to handle them is to gather your strength and fight. In other words, resilient people do not interpret adversity as a devastating blow and they do not allow negative emotions ( like fear and anxiety about the future ) to overwhelm and paralyze them .
In his book ” The Anatomy of Hope ,” Dr. . Jerome Groopman, a medical doctor who specializes in cancer treatments, writes about how the power of hope increases the chances of treatment success and survival. He explains that hope doesn’t imply blind and unrealistic optimism but rather an accepting attitude towards difficulties as well as determination to seek and find solutions. When people remain hopeful, they can still experience negative emotions but are not overpowered by them because they believe that there must be a way out.
Hope, therefore, enhances the human ability to make realistic plans and implement them , which is one of the most important factors associated with resilience . Other important factors are:
Rewarding human relationships that enable us to feel loved, cared and supported.
Positive self-image, believing in our potential and abilities
Problem-solving skills and communication skills
The ability to manage strong emotions
To enhance your psychological resilience,
- Recognise the tremendous inner strength you have inside you. You may often doubt it and not know that you have it because you may have labelled yourself in ways that do not serve our highest good. We often name ourselves “weak «, ” losers «, “failures.” But inner strength is an evolving quality and can be enhanced and grow greater throughout life. Trauma, failure and difficulties, are integral parts of life, and that if they didn’t exist we wouldn’t know the difference from pleasant states such as joy, success, health.
- Understand what inner strength really means. Strength doesn’t entail an elimination of anxiety, sadness, anger, fear. It does not mean that you will never fall. But when you fall, strength means getting up again and believing that the difficult situation you are going through is not the end of the road. Strength means keep hoping and looking for ways to solve your problem , whatever that is.
- Improve your relationships and your sense of connection with others. An effective support network is one of the most important keys that open the door of psychological resilience. It is important to feel that you are not alone and that you have people who you can talk to.
- Change the focus of your attention; Instead of focusing on the problem, focus on everything that you appreciate in your life right now. What is good in your life currently which you feel positively about? Give a different interpretation to what ‘s going on . As mentioned above, resilient people believe that crises are a normal part of life. If you can learn something from your own crisis, what would that be?
- Assign meaning to your everyday life by setting goals. Start with small daily goals that will keep you on the go and help you to achieve larger goals. Then take the necessary steps to realise your goals.
- Look after yourself; rest, relax and have fun. Perhaps you could participate in activities that you find interesting or pick up a hobby you have neglected.
- Engage in alternative activities that could help you express and manage your emotions. For example, you may find helpful keeping a diary where you write about your thoughts and feelings. Spiritual activities such as meditation can also help manage thoughts and emotions and a lot of people feel that they benefit from it.