The ability to recover from hard times can be learned. Find out more about how to become resilient.
How do you respond when something bad happens? Some people curl up in a ball and curse their fate. Others seem to rise up and move ahead in spite of setbacks. This ability to bounce back from difficult experiences is called resilience.
Resilience is the ability to cope with hard times, trauma and stress. It doesn’t mean you won’t feel sad or hurt when bad things happen. It means that when life drops you in a hole, you find a way to climb out.
Experts used to think resiliency was something a person either had or didn’t have. And they assumed that people who had it were the exception rather than the rule. Now we know that resilience is not a rare gift of the few. Ordinary people of all ages have it, and those who don’t have it can learn it.
Traits of resilient people
People who are resilient tend to have a positive outlook. They take control of their own lives. When tragedy strikes, they are able to stay balanced and work their way through the setbacks. Their attitudes may help protect them from depression and other mental health problems.
People who are resilient share some important traits. They:
- Have a network of caring and supportive people in their lives
- Are able to make plans and carry them out
- Feel good about themselves and confident of their abilities
- Can communicate and solve problems
- Are able to manage strong feelings and impulses
If you don’t have all these traits now, don’t worry. They can be developed.
Nine ways to become more resilient
There’s no one right way to build resiliency. Different people take different approaches. It may help to think about which traits you lack and focus on making those stronger.
Here are some ideas that can help you become more resilient:
1. Build connections. Having strong relationships is the most important factor in resiliency. Put time and energy into your family and friendships. Extend your network by joining civic groups or finding a support group. When you suffer a blow, reach out to those who care about you. Lend a hand when they need help.
2. Look beyond the moment. During bad times, remind yourself that you will get through this, and in time things will improve.
3. Go with the flow. Change is part of life, and sometimes the changes aren’t positive. The more you can accept that, the easier it will be to adapt when change comes along.
4. Work toward your goals. Set some goals you can achieve, and make progress toward them, even if they’re small steps.
5. Take action. When bad things happen, don’t bury your head in the sand. Decide what you want to do and act on it. This can help you regain a sense of control.
6. Look on the bright side. Try to cultivate a positive attitude. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, turn your attention to what’s right.
7. Practice positive self-talk. Give yourself credit for the good things you do. Build trust in your own abilities.
8. Learn from experience. Remember how you dealt with past problems. Think about what you did and how you apply the lessons you learned to what’s happening now.
9. Take care of yourself mentally, physically and spiritually. Do things you enjoy that help you relax. Eat well, sleep enough and get some exercise. Meditate, keep a journal or express yourself through art, music or dance.