What is Resilience?

What is Resilience?


Posted by Jan Lawrence

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Resilience and the Adversities of Life

Life is full of experiences of adversities.  Some of them are external such as fires, earthquakes, floods, wars, or violence.  Some of them are within the family, such as divorce, separation, abandonment, or loss of a job, home, or loved one.  And some of them are within the individual, such as fear of failure, loss of love, harm, or illness.

However, there are differences in what is perceived as an adversity, particularly in personal experiences.  One person may perceive a divorce as an adversity, while another might perceive it as a new found freedom.  One person may see loss of a job as an adversity, while another may see it as an opportunity to be free to pursue more education or another, less stressful job.  But when anyone has an experience that causes stress, fear, a sense of vulnerability or alienation, that person may well perceive the experience to be an adversity.

Resilience is the human capacity to face, overcome, and be strengthened by, and even be transformed by experiences of adversity.

Resilience is not magic; it is not found only in certain people, and it is not a gift from unknown sources.  All humans have the capacity to become resilient – everyone is able to learn how to face the inevitable adversities of life; everyone is able to overcome adversities and be strengthened by them.

Obviously there are many individual differences, depending on such things as age, stage of development, the number and frequency of the adversities, and the resources available to deal with them.  But you can begin or enhance the process at any age or stage of your life.

Resistance v Resilience

The opposite of resilience is resistance.  Resistance can be conscious or unconscious and is focussed on being inflexible, frozen and fixated on a specific idea or concept.

Resistance is mostly a barrier to change and can hold back the progress of a group, or keep an individual stuck in negative behaviours.  Typically, as a rule, the more resistance there is, the less resilient someone or an organisation can be and the more inflexible a person will be within interpersonal relationships.

Click on the link for more information on our Resilience Courses.  In particular you may be interested in our Resilient Leadership course and our Developing Personal Resilience course. 

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