We all know that life is kind of like the Ying-Yang symbol.
It is a mix of good and bad times. Just as we enjoy the happy moments, we also need to go through the miserable ones.
That’s just how it is.
So, we can say that adversities are a natural part of life.
People face accidents, financial crises, health crises, loss of loved ones, natural disasters, bullying, etc.
I think it goes without saying that these hardships bring untold amounts of grief and torment.
But there is one thing that helps us recover from misery, no matter how insurmountable it seems.
There is one thing that helps us keep going in the face of disaster.
And that is resilience.
We all know that resilience is commonly defined as the ability of a person to bounce back after an adverse event.
But it is much more complex than that.
For one, different people deal with adversities differently. This is because different people are affected differently by adverse events.
So, resilience can vary greatly from one person to another.
Also, a person can be resilient in one area of their life but not in other areas.
They can also be more resilient at one point in their lives and less at another.
Plus, being resilient does not mean you don’t experience stress, suffering, or emotional turmoil. It means being able to go through these things and adapting to them.
Also, there can be different types of resilience… physical, mental, emotional, and community.
I think it would be safe to say that resilience is a pretty complex concept.
Maybe that is why it has garnered the attention of the best minds in the world who have spent years trying to understand what it really is, how it works, and how we can develop it.
What Is The Resilience Theory?
Resilience Theory has emerged out of decades of research into how human beings deal with adversities.
And unlike other mainstream theories, it does not contain a fixed set of principles or hypotheses.
Rather, we can say that it is a framework that keeps evolving over time as scientists discover new things about human resilience through studies. In fact, there have already been four revisions to this framework.
Therefore, we can say that there is no particular definition of resilience.
Some experts say that it is a holistic concept that includes internal and external factors affecting human psychology.
Some say that it is an intrinsic quality of an individual that cannot be defined objectively.
Some say that it is the capacities of people in general and others say that it is a simple positive function in the face of distress.
But perhaps what everyone can agree on is that resilience is the process between adversity and the outcome. This definition shows that resilience is more about what happens after a setback happens and how it leads to a positive outcome.
Theories of Resilience
To understand the concept of resilience further, we can take a look at the main theories of resilience.
These were propounded by experts in psychology and provide different views regarding resilience.
Let’s dive right in.
1) Michael Rutter’s Theory of Resilience
Michael Rutter is known as the father of child psychology.
In fact, he was the first person to be appointed a professor of child psychiatry in the United Kingdom. Therefore, it goes without saying that his views hold a lot of weight.
According to Rutter, resilience is not related to a person’s psychological traits. He said that it is more about the ability to adapt to a given situation provided the right resources.
2) Dr. Norman Garmezy’s Theory of Resilience
Dr. Norman Garmezy was one of the most respected experts in psychology. He was well-known for his work in developmental psychopathology.
According to Dr. Garmezy, resilience is not the quality of being brave in the face of adversity.
Rather, it is the quality of recovering and maintaining adequate behavior despite facing emotional distress.
He also said that a person is resilient even if they initially retreat when faced with tragedy, provided that they come back and do the needful.
3) Emmy Werner’s Theory of Resilience
Emmy Werner was a developmental psychologist. She was best known in the field of child development, especially for her forty-year longitudinal study of 698 infants. Her study led to the groundbreaking revelation that not all children succumb to adversities.
This provided a lot of insights into how resilience works, especially in a person’s early developmental stages.
Her study led her to define resilience as the capacity to work well, play well, love well, and expect well.
She had observed that several protective factors played a crucial role in helping children become more resilient, no matter how many adversities they faced.
Some of these protective factors were a strong bond with a nonparent caretaker, involvement in a community group (having a human connection), engagement in activities and hobbies, and more.
Characteristics of Resilience Theory
Although there are many different models of resilience theory, there are a few similarities.
As such we can say that these are common characteristics of resilience that most experts agree upon.
Let’s take a look at some of these.
1) Resilience Is A Dynamic Process
When psychologists started exploring resilience as a concept for the first time, they were focused more on the individual traits of people that led to a positive outcome after an adverse event.
In other words, they wanted to understand the traits of a person that led them to become resilient. This means that they had assumed resilience to be a result of a static internal quality.
However, they realized over time that resilience is a dynamic process.
It is much more than individual personality traits. It is a dynamic process by which people use protective factors and resources to reach a positive outcome.
2) Resilience Depends On Ordinary Resources
For the longest time, researchers assumed that children who were generally resilient were invincible. This led to the belief that only certain people can adapt positively to adverse events.
This, however, is not true.
Through studies, researchers have now discovered that virtually anybody can become resilient if the basic adaptation systems were protected and in good working order during child development.
So, how can the adaptation systems of a person be protected? (I know it sounds complicated lol .)
Well, it can happen through ordinary resources like parental support, adult mentors, a safe neighborhood, and so on.
3) Resilience Is Not A Fixed System
This is an obvious characteristic of resilience.
One that most people might have observed themselves.
Resilience is not a fixed system, meaning that it can fluctuate over time and across domains.
In other words, you can be more resilient at one point in your life and less resilient at some other point. Also, you might be resilient in your career but not in your relationships.
Different life events play a crucial role in helping you develop adaptation systems or giving rise to new vulnerabilities.
Why Is Resilience Important?
It is really important for a person to be resilient in life.
After all, we have established that adverse events are a natural part of life.
When they occur, you can either get affected drastically by them or find solutions and face them with everything you have got.
The former can potentially reduce the quality of your life, while the latter can potentially lead you to better opportunities and self-growth.
There are many other reasons why resilience is important.
Let’s take a look at some of them.
1) It Helps Us Adapt To Hardship
No matter what happens in life, we can’t afford to stop.
As they say, life must go on.
We have responsibilities to fulfill, family to feed, goals to achieve, and so on.
So, when faced with a disaster, it is important to adapt to it.
This is what resilience does for you.
It gives you the strength to be brave in the face of stressful situations.
It gives you the ability to process what is happening and come out on top.
Without it, you would most probably turn to unhealthy means of coping that could make matters worse.
2) It Protects Our Mental Health
Your mental health is just as important, if not more important, than your physical health.
Only when it is functioning optimally can you experience well-being and live life the way you want.
We all know by experience what mental illnesses like anxiety can do to us. Our whole life can grind to a halt.
Resilience protects our mental health by keeping anxiety, depression, and other mental conditions at bay. It helps us overcome painful events and determine the direction of our lives.
3) It Can Lead To Self-Discovery
You probably already know that challenges often help you grow as a person.
In a way, they help you realize what you are capable of.
When you finally defeat a problem that you thought was insurmountable, you learn something about yourself.
You learn that you are much more capable than you give yourself credit for.
So, I think it’s safe to say that resilience can lead to self-discovery. It can even motivate you to face as many challenges as you can so that you keep learning newer things about yourself.
4) It Improves Problem-Solving Skills
It is only logical that the more resilient you are, the more problems you will solve.
And the more problems you will solve, the better your problem-solving skills will be!
This is pretty much self-explanatory.
In today’s world, the problem-solvers are the ones that ultimately go on to become successful.
So, in a way, your resilience can be one of the biggest factors influencing your success.
5) It Helps Us Open Up To Others
Resilient people often seek other people’s assistance during tough times.
If they feel like they can’t face things on their own, they don’t hesitate to ask the help of those around them.
After all, they are focused on solving a given situation, by any means necessary.
So, when they approach other people for help, they learn how to open up to them. They learn how to share their thoughts and feelings.
It makes them much better communicators. It also helps them empathize with people who are facing similar predicaments.
The 7 Cs of Resilience
The 7 Cs model of resilience was created to help kids and teens become more resilient.
This is important because early development years are a crucial factor in becoming resilient.
Let’s take a look at what these 7 Cs are.
Competence is the effectiveness of an individual at solving a particular situation. In order to build competence, you need to learn several different skill sets relating to the various aspects of your life. Children need to learn as many skills as possible. The more skills they have the more they can tackle any issue…..
Confidence is another factor that influences a person’s resilience.
It can be developed by becoming more competent at things and focusing on achieving dreams and goals. Anything that builds or promotes confidence is helpful.
As mentioned above, human connection is another important external factor that makes a person resilient.
The closer your ties with family, friends, and the community at large, the more resilient you will become. This is because you will have a sense of belonging and security.
Your inherent traits, morals, values, and ability to judge a situation effectively are all important in determining your resilience.
They motivate you to make the right choices in life, no matter how hard the situations might be. Our life experiences, our culture, education etc…help us shape the person we become and how we get up when we fall….
Contributing in some way to other people’s lives can make you feel good about yourself. It makes you feel that you have a sense of purpose. This can be a powerful motivator when it comes to dealing with tough situations. Helping other people gives us perspective and the ability to think and see the broader picture in any problem….
If you have a set of positive coping methods that can help you deal with stress effectively, you will automatically be more resilient. In the face of an adverse event, you can always turn to your coping methods and come back stronger.
Tools such as relaxation, meditation, any activity that promotes your well being can help you cope with stressful situations.
In life, we cannot control the situations we land ourselves in, but we can control the outcome (or the way we react to them).
When you realize this fact, you will be motivated to think like a problem-solver.
Your focus will be on dealing with the situation at hand, rather than running away from it. This makes you more resilient.