Discovering Your Resilience Core
Most of us are ordinary people. Every one of us, however, has extraordinary possibilities and strengths. Everyone stumbles and falls from time to time, but each of us has the ability to get back up and carry on. We call this capacity to live life to the fullest and face adversity, change, and challenge with purpose and determination, resilience.
Once we understand how to respond to challenges in life with resilience, downturns are not so overwhelming, defeating, or destructive. Resilient people respond to life’s challenges with courage and emotional stamina, even when they are afraid. Downturns become challenges to face head-on and overcome. Even though we have no control over many events in our life—accidents, natural disasters, crime, illness, the economy, etc.—we can control how we respond to these events, and we can choose to do so with resilience.
Does resilience really matter? Is it really important? After years of research into resilience, and having heard from thousands of individuals about their own resilience, it is becoming increasingly clear that resilience is very important to a person’s health, both mental and physical. Our own research has shown that resilience protects against (and reverses) depression, anxiety, fear, helplessness, and other negative emotions, and thus has the potential to reduce their associated physiological effects.
You can strengthen your resilience by enhancing your resilience core, which comprises five essential characteristics:
If you have not yet measured the strength of your resilience core using the Resilience Scale, please take a few minutes to do so now , then come back and continue from this point. This knowledge will make the following paragraphs more relevant to you.
Having a sense of one’s own meaning or purpose in life may be the most important characteristic of resilience. Life without purpose is futile and aimless. It can be difficult to get up in the morning if there is no good reason to do so. Purpose provides the driving force in life.
When you experience inevitable difficulties, your purpose pulls you forward. Despite the popular self-help literature that emphasizes “finding your purpose,” rarely is your purpose lost or hidden. Your purpose typically finds you, not the other way around.
Perseverance is the determination to keep going despite difficulties, discouragement, and disappointment. Winston Churchill said it best: “Never give in, never give in…never, never, never, never give in…”
Repeated failure or rejection (and the discouragement that follows) can be formidable roadblocks in life. They can prevent you from moving forward and attaining your goals.
Resilient individuals are good at overcoming roadblocks. They have grit. They tend to finish what they begin. Because of this, you can depend on them. If they say they are going to do something, they do it.
Some people dwell on disappointments, are weighed down with regrets, or tend to turn everything bad that happens in their life into a catastrophe. They have a skewed and “out of balance” view of life.
Equanimity means balance and harmony. Resilient people learn to avoid extreme responses. This is one of the reasons resilient people are described as optimistic, because even when the situation looks dire, they are able to see a positive side as well.
Self-reliance is believing in yourself, with a clear understanding of your capabilities and limitations. It comes from experience and the “practice, practice, practice” that leads to confidence in your abilities.
Throughout your lifetime, you will encounter challenges that you will meet successfully. At other times, you will fail. Self-reliant individuals learn from these experiences and develop a repertoire of problem-solving skills. Furthermore, they use, adapt, strengthen, and refine these skills throughout life. This increases their self-reliance and their self-confidence.
While we all live in the world with other people, resilient individuals learn to live with themselves. They become their own best friend. Authentic people accept themselves, warts and all.
Most of us are ordinary people going about ordinary lives, but we have much to contribute to the world around us. Many people fail to recognize this about themselves and are filled with despair. A resilient individual will recognize his or own worth. Resilient people will also realize that they are in a class of their own and do not feel a pressure to conform. They can even go it alone if necessary. Living authentically is to live with courage and conviction.
You have been born with a capacity for resilience. As you learn to recognize and strengthen the core characteristics of resilience, you will build a life of meaning and significance. You will find within yourself courage and extraordinary possibilities.