Why Resilience Matters

Why Resilience Matters

Posted by Jan Lawrence


“Life is not what it’s supposed to be, it’s what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference”  Virginia Satir

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.
Resilience means being able to understand key areas crucial to resilience.  It also means being able to manage each of the areas to a point where you are not only resilient, but optimally resilient.

Explaining the Resilience Skills


Realistic Optimism – Highly resilient people have a realistic, optimistic view of the world.  This optimism is not fantastical it is based in reality.  They persist in seeking goals despite obstacles and setbacks.  They tend to operate from hope of success rather than fear of failure.  Setbacks are viewed as due to manageable circumstance rather than personal flaw.

Emotional Awareness  – Highly resilient people have the ability to identify their feelings and where necessary, have the ability to control their feelings. They are able to label their feelings, rather than labelling people or situations.  For example, “I feel impatient.” Vs “This is ridiculous.”  And distinguish between thoughts and feelings.  For example, a thought would be “I feel like..& “I feel as if”.  A feeling would be “I feel.”  And importantly can take responsibility for their feelings “I feel jealous.” Vs. “You are making me jealous.”  Finally they can recognise how their feelings affect their performance and understand the links between their feelings and what they think and say.

Empathy – Highly resilient people are highly empathetic.  They not only identify and understand their own emotions; they can identify and understand the emotions of others. They are attentive to emotional cues and listen well.  They show sensitivity and understand another person’s perspective.  They acknowledge and reward peoples’ strengths and accomplishments and offer useful feedback whilst identifying peoples’ needs for further growth.  This allows the highly resilient individual to both build social relationships and to give out social support.

Relationship Building – Highly resilient people are prepared to take appropriate risks.  They are willing to try new things and view occasional failures as essential stages in the process towards ultimate success. They have the ability to take on new opportunities and challenges in order to maximise their potential, and to deepen relationships with those important in not just business but also family life.  Importantly they are able to ask for help when required without feelings of anger, resentment, inadequacy or intimidation.

Problem Solving – Highly resilient people have the ability to look at problems and challenges from a comprehensive perspective. Problems and challenges are viewed from many different perspectives, with many factors given consideration.

Self-Efficacy – Highly resilient people have confidence in their ability to successfully solve problems.  They recognise their strengths and weaknesses and use their strengths to help them cope with adversity. In essence self- efficacy is the extent that you believe you can do a particular thing.  The stronger your belief, the stronger your self-efficacy. For example, viewing challenging problems as tasks to be mastered, developing deeper interest in the activities in which you participate and forming a stronger sense of commitment to your interests and activities.  On the other hand, the weaker your belief, the weaker your self-efficacy. For example, avoiding challenging tasks, believing that difficult tasks and situations are beyond your capabilities and focusing on personal failings and negative outcomes.

Impulse Control – Highly resilient people tolerate ambiguity well so they do not rush to make judgements or snap decisions.  They step back and think about things before acting.  They have the ability to stop, and choose whether to act on a desire to take action.  For example, when they become angry instead of shouting or getting into an argument they stop and decide that those actions may not do any good in the situation – in fact, they could make matters worse.   Controlling our impulses helps us to finish what we set out to do and to plan for the future.  It also helps us to delay our gratification – to control our impulse to have something right now just because we want it.

At In Equilibrium, we test where you are in each of the resilience areas which allows us to focus on areas which require developing.  We help you develop each of the areas of resilience and offer you techniques and skills which can be learned very quickly.

Resilient people are able to reach within themselves to mobilise their strengths and then reach out to connect with others.

When you focus on resilience, you can begin to see how strong you already are and which areas you could work on to become stronger still.  Just as the emergency instructions on an airplane advise you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before assisting others, recognising how to become more resilient makes you better able to cope during adversity.  You are also more equipped to support loved ones, colleagues and friends through their own adversities.