Why are some people more resilient than others?
To answer that first we need to look at a definition of resilience.
Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes.
To me, resilience is all about our unique individual ability to cope with adversity and difficult times, and to bounce back from traumatic life events.
I think that some people are more resilient than others because they have the skills required to be resilient. But how did they get these skills?
Some of us learn them by example and direction from the family/school/community/networks that we have been reared in. Others who may not have had this type of early exposure learn the skills in adulthood by making the conscious choice to learn to build resilience. You see many books, courses, online resources now available to guide one in the direction of building resilience.
Resilience skill set
Habits: Developing healthy habits every day. These habits help to promote and sustain good health. Ruby Wax has spoken about the personal commitment and challenge of developing these good habits in relation to Mindfulness and Meditation. They will be difficult and you should expect them to be so but you should keep going until you see results. This advice is the same for building habits for resilience such as walking, planning healthy meals and developing a good bedtime routine.
Mastery: Building ones’ own mastery means challenging ourselves achieve something new and do new things. It’s good to push ourselves at being good at doing!!!!
This creates a sense of achievement and a feeling of increased self worth.
Self-care: This is all about looking after the fundamentals of our health and wellbeing in the non-stressful times so that we have a reserve to fall back on when things get difficult.
Self-care means getting adequate and good quality sleep, eating well, exercise routine, having a hobby and having fun frequently. You should also keep a check on issues with health that come up so problems are not neglected. We need to be doing this all the time as when the life event or crisis happens we have a good platform of wellness to work from.
Balance: Achieving balance in the important spheres of ones’ life especially work, rest and play.
But you also need balance in finances, in time spent at work and with family, of alone time and with others such as groups and community.
Positive Experiences: This is part of the self-care but deserves separate mention. Tune in to what is good in your life. Build on these experiences and savour the goodness and benefit from them. Have and enjoy lots of happy moments in your day to day life. It can be the nice cup of tea, the sun in your face, your child’s smile, a friendly wave form a neighbour, the flower growing in the garden, or your dogs’ welcome home for you. It is the small good moments that can sustain us in challenging times.
Values: Know what is important to you and what gives direction and meaning to your life. Live according to your values so that you do not feel that you are not being true to yourself, or feeling guilty or shame. If you do not live in the service of your values, can you amend this and look for forgiveness, perhaps from yourself and move on.
Boundaries: Have limits, learn to say no. protect yourself from burnout and exhaustion and resentment. We can all only do so much.
Relationships: Man does not live alone! We need to be connected to other people. Be it family, community, neighbours, and groups. So who are the most important people to you?
Look after those relationships and invest in them. When things get tough you will be looking for help and support from these relationships so invest wisely.
Compassion: Be kind to self and others.
We can all learn and practice these skills and become resilient people.