Most of use have heard quotes such as, "Get knocked down six times and get up seven." The point is to remind us to get back up no matter how many times we get knocked down. Life requires us to use our inner strengths when we feel like we might succumb to the situation we are facing. The individuals who utilize resilience survive life's challenges and bounce back, usually stronger than before, while those who cannot tap into their inner resources find themselves suffering through difficult circumstances.
Research has shown resiliency is an innate trait for some individuals; resiliency, however, also can be taught. For example, history has provided us with stories of individuals who have survived tragedies, abuse and loss and these individuals fall into two categories: those who were born resourceful and those who learned to be resourceful. This of course lends itself to the nature vs. nurture debate: Are we products of our biology, or our environment? It seems we act upon both our biological predispositions and the reactions we learn based on the situations we face. Our overall ability to bounce back is influenced by both biology and learned behaviors.
What we can learn from this is that we always have a choice in how we react because we can learn new ways to respond to problems. Additionally, we know circumstances can change at any time, which means nothing remains the same. With that in mind, our struggles should not become our identity.
We are not our situations; we are individuals who can influence our environment and change our circumstances. We can choose to remain strong and refuse to allow our spirits to break. We can look for resources, find our answers and implement changes. We can look to others as examples and use their stories as motivation to move forward.
Some of the ways to build resilience are to build or maintain a good support system with family, friends, support groups and faith-based communities; try to look at things with a "big picture" perspective or at least from a different perspective instead of focusing on the problem; remember that change is inevitable and change allows opportunity for new experiences and growth; try to keep things in perspective by choosing to be positive and seek professional help from a therapist when stress becomes too much to manage and your daily functioning is interrupted or you feel stuck and need help with problem-solving.
The strategies are as different as the people who use them. The key is to find what strategy works best for you and implement it; to act with intention. You can bounce back.
Dawn Wever is a licensed mental health counselor and has worked in the Behavioral Health Care industry for six years. She has appeared at conferences on issues related to mental health and substance abuse and provides mental health trainings for professionals. Additional resources and information can be found on her website at http://dawnweverlmhc.com.