Resilience, a Tangible Insight to Wellbeing?

27th July 2016 by Catia Neves

Resilience comes from the Latin resilio, which means to jump (or bounce) back.

When I agreed to do a post about resilience I wasn’t too sure I actually knew what resilience really was! Then I thought that maybe it was what an uncle of mine said of me — that I was a “survivor” in life. I never really knew what he meant by this, as a child, but growing older I can see where he was coming from. I think the key to this survivor affectation may have been the ability to be resilient to a set of events, good or bad. It is individualistic, though, as who is to say that one person’s “tragedy” or catastrophe can be measured alongside someone else’s. For example someone’s resilience in coping with a death in one’s family cannot be measured by someone else’s reaction, even within the same family. Each person had a different relationship with the deceased and there is “no yardstick” in measuring grief. In other words, their resilience in coping with that tragedy is relative to that person.Therefore, there maybe a “spectrum of adversity” to which we all have different levels of resistance too.

Also, resilience is not a trait or an ability that can be emulated easily. It’s not something that can be copied from someone else as it is specific to the individual for a specific event. So, therefore, is resilience more of a process? It could be described as a “gradual discovery of personal and unique abilities.” In other words, resilience is a journey where negative emotions are explored and where positive emotions eventually balance negative emotions out? It is the learnt behaviour of experience, knowing that our experience might develop the ability to cope in a way that is more positive?

However, there is a possible misconception of resilience that conjures up this image of a strong teflon type…someone who is rhino skinned and can cope with anything that is thrown at them. It more about recognising that negative things can often empower us in ways we might not see immediately and might not manifest themselves until we next have another negative event.

So what skills can actually helps us build resilience?

  • Goal setting using realistic expectations
  • Nurture self esteem — be good to yourself!
  • Learn from mistakes — but don’t be too hard on yourself (see above!)
  • Explore and accept strengths as well as weaknesses
  • Cultivate problem solving skills
  • Recognise own emotions and those of others
  • Be aware of self
  • Willingness to overcome difficulties rather than avoid problems
  • Develop optimistic, rather than pessimistic thinking patterns
  • Develop effective social skills and ability to seek assistance from others

These are all notions that we can foster in our everyday lives and are notions that could be useful pointers in mentoring students. Students can develop good patterns of resilience as they move through their own learning journey. Resilience helps you cope with the good times and the bad times and student life is all of these and more. So the real message is no matter how tough things are perseverance builds resilience……thanks Uncle!

This is also a good read: Find ways to bounce back

Helen x

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