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Last Updated on October 23, 2019

What Is Resilience and Why Is It Important?

What Is Resilience and Why Is It Important?

Have you ever wondered why some people remain calm in the face of adversity, while others crumble?

People who are able to effectively navigate the highs and lows of life have what psychologists call resilience, or an ability to effectively bounce back from adversity.

Whenever you come across a difficult situation, you have two choices: you can either let your emotions get the best of you and become paralyzed by fear, or you can uplift yourself from the negative and transform pain into possibility.

I think we can all agree that life is a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. Even if you consider yourself to be a happy person, it is inevitable that you will encounter challenges at some point along your journey. These experiences may bend you, but they do not have to break you.

Building resilience is the key to turning challenges into successes.

Don’t get me wrong… being a resilient person is not an easy feat. However, I believe that all of us have the power to develop a resilient mindset; just like a muscle, it needs to be conditioned and strengthened every single day.

Sometimes it takes hitting your emotional threshold, which I like to call, rock bottom, before you are able to tap into your personal resilience. This is how I came to discover my strength.

What Is Resilience?

The construct of resilience has its roots in the field of developmental psychopathology during the 1970s. In the course of studying children with psychiatric disorders, psychiatrists and psychologists noted that a small number of children did not display the expected maladaptive behaviours.

Instead, they displayed behaviours that were within the normal range of social development.[1]

However, it was the studies of children of schizophrenic parents and the findings that some children thrived despite their high-risk status that led to the expansion of research on resilience. These included multiple adverse conditions, including socioeconomic disadvantage, parental mental illness, maltreatment, illness and catastrophic life events.

During the late 1980s and 1990s, research on resilience revealed it to be a much more ordinary phenomenon than it was first thought to be. The construct of resilience evolved to presume exposure to significant adversity.

Multiple Definitions of Resilience

To date, there is little consensus among researchers about the definition and meaning of the construct of resilience. In the last decade, the concept of resilience has shifted. It was once confined to a set of stable individual traits.

However, the concept shifted to an outcome and dynamic process, dependent upon interactions between individual and contextual variables, evolving over time.[2]

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Today, resilience is commonly referred to as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.[3] This definition captures the ‘bounce-back’ characteristic, which reflects one of the central characteristics of resilience.

The Importance of Resilience

Ever-increasing demands on time and energy have created an environment where people feel overwhelmed and unable to manage the high expectations of their daily lives.

As a result, people find themselves constantly multitasking, chronically distracted, and pulled in way too many different directions. If you want to stay at the top of your game in life and in work, it is imperative that you learn how to successfully navigate your way through the tough times.

In a study sponsored by Nationwide and Vodafone, nearly 100 percent of participants cited resilience as a factor in job success.[4] Numbers don’t lie. Resilience is the secret to success.

Here are four reasons why possessing resilience is a critical life-skill in today’s world:

1. Transform Failure Into Success

In my experience, the road to success is paved with a lot of failure. It’s a normal part of life. You cannot build resilience unless you are willing to fail. End of story.

When you mess up, you’ve got to get back up.

Those who are unable to bounce back from adversity end up internalizing failure and inevitably, giving up altogether. If you can relate to this way of thinking, it’s important to understand that failure is an event. It does not define who you are as a person.

Research shows that when you try, fail, try something else, fail, try again, and ultimately succeed, you get a nice kick from your dopaminergic reward system.[5] This is what gives you the momentum that you need when adversity hits you like a ton of bricks.

Failure is merely a steppingstone which everyone goes through on their path to greatness. You’ve got to ask yourself… are you willing to take bold risks in order to become the person you’ve always desired to be? If you don’t try, you will never know.

2. Develop an Internal Locus of Control

Do you believe that life happens for you or to you? In order for you to improve your happiness in any area of your life, you have to ask yourself the difficult question – “Who is responsible for my happiness?”

Your answer to this question will determine how effectively you are able to overcome challenges in life.

People who adopt an external locus of control struggle to bounce back from life’s blows. They believe that external forces determine the direction that their lives will take.

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Not surprisingly, this beliefs leave them feeling powerless. They play the victim in their life story, and trust me when I say that this is no way to live.

As researcher, Julian Rotter once said,

“Those who are passive about their well-being believe they have little or no control over their lives.”

If you ascribe to this way of living, the great news is that at any given moment, you can decide to change this pattern of conditioning.

Conversely, people with an internal locus of control see themselves as the CEO of their lives. They know that they are in control of every single decision that they make.

When they get knocked down, they are able to bounce forward, meaning that they are able to use life’s greatest adversities as springboards for success. When you do this, you become the driver of your destiny and resilience becomes your natural state of being.

3. Build Positive Beliefs

When your world comes crashing down on you, it’s easy to fall into negativity mode and play the ‘why me’ game. However, you cannot overcome challenges in life if you think that the Universe isn’t on your side. Negativity will get you nowhere in life.

Research shows that one major factor that contributes to resilience is the experience of harnessing positive emotions, even in the midst of an especially trying or stressful time.[6]

A resilient person works through challenges by harnessing the power of positive emotions. They are able to reframe adversity into something that is positive, which allows them to bounce back a lot quicker.

You will surprise yourself how much more calm you will feel in the face of adversity when you choose to be happy and optimistic.

4. Help You Embrace Change

At the heart of resilience lies a simple truth – change is inevitable. The reality is that we live in a world of constant change. In fact, uncertainty is the only certainty that we can count on.

People get into trouble when they ignore or resist change. As a result, they end up living a life of pain and suffering because they are unable to find comfort in the chaos.

You will not build resilience by hanging out in your comfort zone. The only way to truly grow and expand yourself is to break free from the chains of stability and dive into the unknown.

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Yes, this will be scary at first. It will require that you do some deep inner work, like shifting your limiting beliefs, breaking bad habits, and learning how to make friends with stress.

Let’s face it… nobody is excited to face their “stuff”, but it’s an integral step on the road to becoming a resilient person. In the words of Socrates,

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

When you master change, you master your life. Are you ready to jump on the change train?”

How I Discovered My Resilience

It wasn’t until I suffered two near-fatal car accidents that left me with a spinal cord and brain injury that my entire perspective on life changed.

I had hit rock bottom and it felt as if my life was crumbling before my eyes. The doctors told me that I may never walk again and that the best thing that I could do was to accept my new reality.

In that moment, I just wanted to give up, but I didn’t. In its simplest form, that’s what resilience is all about – choosing to keep going when every bone in your body tells you not to.

Rock bottom ended up being the foundation upon which I rebuilt my entire life.

From the traumatic events in my life, I discovered that there were recurring patterns of strategies that I used in order to be resilient. For example, I learned how to make friends with my pain and healed my emotional trauma through yoga, dance and meditation.

Despite my doctors orders, I continued my Psychology degree, while lying in bed with a back brace on for 6 months. I was determined to keep feeding my brain with new knowledge. Falling into depression wasn’t an option.

That being said, there were a lot of moments when I thought, “Why me?” or “Life isn’t fair.” However, through it all, my bounce-back ability remained strong.

I refused to define myself by my pain.

Instead, I took action to create a new reality for myself. It may not have been the reality that I asked for, but nevertheless, I made it work. I become a new version of myself, one that was stronger and more wiser.

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In the words of John Assaraf,

“No matter what your current circumstances are, if you can imagine something better for yourself, you can create it.”

I like to think of myself as a Resilience Junkie, a woman who is addicted to thriving through adversity.

Today, I am a resilience mastery coach. All along, my purpose was hidden within my wounds. I empower women to shift their lives from surviving to thriving so that they can master resilience in every dimension of their lives.

When you tap into your resilience and unleash your inner power, there is no challenge that you cannot conquer.

Final Thoughts

The next time that life throws you a curveball, trust that you are strong enough to stay in the game. Adversity may bend you, but don’t let it break you.

It doesn’t matter how many times that you fall. All that matters is that you get back up again and keep moving forward. In the words of the famous Japanese proverb,

“Fall seven times. Stand up eight.”

You’ve got this. Whatever you do, don’t give up. I am living proof that the comeback is always stronger than the setback.

Are you ready to live a more resilient life?

Featured photo credit: Brad Barmore via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Ashley Elizabeth

Women's Resilience Mastery Coach & Dance Movement Medicine Therapist

What Is Resilience and Why Is It Important? How to Be More Self-Aware and Strive to Be a Better Person 13 Things You Can Do to Build Emotional Resilience 5 Steps to Bounce Back Fast When Life Knocks You Down 13 Simple Habits to Cultivate Self-Compassion

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Published on November 20, 2019

14 Personal Goals for a Better You Next Year

14 Personal Goals for a Better You Next Year

Personal goal setting starts with having a destination in mind.

If you don’t know where you’re going, why bother moving forward? You’ll just get more lost or find yourself back where you started again.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, every road will take you there.”- Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland

You have to have a destination of who you want to become in order to get there.

Personal goals will be easier to make if you know where you want to go.

You must start with how to get there and break down the steps. These steps must be realistic.

That doesn’t mean you can’t dream big; in fact,

“Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you’ll still land among the stars.”

Dream big no matter what but be realistic at the same time. Be open to detours, too.

According to Action for Happiness[1], ways to make goals include deciding on goals, writing steps down, telling someone about it and plan out each step.

Here I will outline 14 personal goals that can help you become a better you:

1. Live Authentically

You don’t have time to be living your life as someone else. All you can do is be yourself. You must choose to be who you really are. That’s the best way to live.

Being yourself is not easy though. It requires dedication to your values and dreams. You won’t be able to be authentic without losing your fear of what others think of you.

There’s only one way to be successful in this life and it’s if you do it for the right reasons. It’s if you choose yourself. It’s not until you find that you will be free.

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Get inspired by my other article: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

2. Take Time for You in Self-Care Prioritization

Self-care is not something you should take for granted. Often, we don’t prioritize it well enough. Some examples include finding time for yourself, do things that make you feel good. Get dietary advice to eat healthy and exercise to improve your health.

Take a break. Go outside. Relax. Read a book or watch a good movie with someone you love. It’s about rewarding yourself with your joys and hobbies.

You can find more examples here: 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit

Self-care is not selfish. It’s important to find time for yourself so that you CAN give more of yourself to the areas of life you need to. You deserve it. You are worth it. Remember that.

3. Don’t Take Things Personally

The less you are concerned with others, the more you can focus on doing what matters most to you. What others say does not reflect the real you. It is just their perception, which may not be the full picture or the truth.

People who try to hurt you are not happy.

“Happy people don’t try to bring other people down.” – Anonymous.

That’s why it’s just not worth holding on to their words.

When you refuse to take things personally, it’s because you know who you are.

4: Decide What You Stand for

4. Decide to Be Who You Are Meant to Be

Look for things you are passionate about. Advocate to make yourself and others heard. Join groups that support your beliefs.

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”- Anonymous.

So, decide what you value and what you stand for. Then, you can do anything.

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Take a look at this guide if you aren’t sure what you’re passionate about: How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life

5. Find the Silver Lining

Find happiness in any situation by finding the silver lining. You can decide to be happy because of the good you find. You must choose to look at the good.

People often think about the bad first, and they dwell on it. It’s human nature, but if you can look for the good or the silver lining, you will be happier for it.

You can learn from any situation or use any situation to better yourself or humanity. Take that and you will overcome it all.

6. Do Something Good for Someone

Instead of just focusing on your problems, do good for someone. It will not only take your mind off what problems you have, but also help you see that you are capable of doing good — right, you still have things to offer.

There are many opportunities to do good. Volunteering, checking on a friend or family member, get involved in a project that serves your community, etc.

The more good you do, the better you will feel.

7. Practice Daily Positive Self Talk

Every day is a new day. The way you talk to yourself is how you can ensure you build resilience and endurance through any challenge.

Here are some positive self talk examples:

“Things may have not gone my way but I can see the good in the situation still.”

“At least I am alive. I have my health, my abilities and the opportunities to use what I have for good.”

“I am worthwhile.”

“I can do it.”

Even more here: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life

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The more you practice positive self talk, the more you will overcome and accomplish.

8. Surrender, When Necessary

When you surrender, you give in to the current rather than fight against it. It means you value inner peace most of all. You don’t sacrifice your inner peace for anything. You know your worth, and you are willing to see how a situation unfolds. You don’t try to force solutions either.

Instead of forcing solutions, you allow the best ones to come forth. You also know how to use what you have. You don’t fight against your situation. You instead use it.

When you surrender, you are accepting what is. This makes it easier to move forward.

9. Ask for Help in One Area of Your Life

We are often taught that needing help is a sign of weakness but it is actually a sign of strength. It’s developing skills that you might not be as well versed in. It’s developing mentor/mentee relationships to help you succeed.

Success is subjective to every individual. When you are developing yourself, you need others’ input. You need help to be who you are meant to be.

There is no shame in asking for help. Asking for help instead opens doors for you that you may not have been able to open yourself.

10. Never Stop Learning

Learning is meant to be lifelong. You can follow your interests, and everything is a “Internet Search Engine” away. But how to really commit to this? Take another class, sign up for a workshop, read books on the subject of interest, develop new hobbies…

In Success Magazine,[2] Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich suggests 3 techniques to never stop learning:

“1. Embrace the Mind of a Child.
2. Put yourself in the hands of a trusted teacher.
3. Read, read, read.” Overall, be responsible for your own growth in life.

You are never too old to learn something new. Start today.

11. Set Boundaries and Say No When Appropriate

Having boundaries can feel uncomfortable because we are telling others what we do not accept. It is also necessary for healthy relationships. You will use them to protect yourself, your heart and your mind.

No one can make you do anything. If you are uncomfortable with something, you have a right to say no. Those who truly care about you will not be offended. You are also setting the bar high, or setting an example for others who are too scared to have boundaries too.

You will make better choices if you have better boundaries: How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

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12. Follow Your Gut

Trust your instincts. They are trying to tell you what to trust in.

You may not want to do something but feel pressured to do it. Your gut is the one speaking to you, telling you not to do it if you don’t want to. It can save you from many things, for example preventing you from making poor choices.

When you follow your gut, you preserve your interests and secure yourself.

13. Do What You Love

Are you doing what you love? You must choose what you can’t live without. Don’t sacrifice that for anything. Life is too short.

Your best also comes out when you are doing what you love. You can give more, do more if you’re happy with what you are doing.

So, do what you love. Don’t question it: Why You Should Always Do What You Love (And How to Do It)

14. Appreciate What You Have

Good Deeds Day defines gratitude as,[3]

“Gratitude allows us to recognize good in our lives. Focusing and appreciating the good in our lives constantly reminds us about the great things all around us… Gratitude allows us to see that the sources of that good are usually close by. Practicing gratitude allows us to recognize those who bring goodness into our lives and humbles us in order to give credit to those we are grateful for.”

At the end of the day, you need to recognize what you do have rather than focusing on what you don’t have. You must choose gratitude as your attitude in order to live a happier, better life. You will win then.

Counting your blessings everyday will help you bring in more blessings. You are limitless. You will overcome more too if you have that positive perspective.

Appreciating what you have starts with the simple things in life. Recognize what’s working. Find your reason to hold on. And then change the world.

Here’re 32 Things You Should Be Grateful For if you need some reminders.

Final Thoughts

Goal setting is about finding what will better yourself and lead you to happiness. You will find peace with yourself when you are on the right path.

You have to make the decision to make the best of everything, and you have to remember what really matters. Your goals will shape you for the rest of your life.

Good luck!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Anika Huizinga via unsplash.com

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