The Ups and Downs of Resilience

By Gail Wagnild

Time to read:  1 minute

Sometimes I don’t feel very resilient. On those days, I am usually tired and discouraged. Maybe even a little grumpy and depressed. I’ve learned not to fight it too much. I don’t mean that I give up as much as I just try to let go for a while knowing that “This too shall pass.” If experience has taught me anything it is that I will get through it. Maybe a little bruised and shaken up, but I’ll make it and learn something in the process.  

It reminds me of flying in turbulence. It makes me anxious. But if I relax into the ups and downs and sideways slipping, it’s not so bad. I know I can’t get off the plane, so what are my choices?  

If today I were to get some bad personal news, I’m pretty sure that my first response wouldn’t be, “I am so resilient! I can get through anything!” I’m more likely to get upset.  I would pray, call friends and family, cry, get angry, but I probably wouldn’t be thinking about how resilient I am.  In fact, if I even thought about it, I wouldn’t feel resilient.

It’s only later once I get some distance from a difficult event that I can catch glimpses of my capacity for resilience. As I experience more of life, I do what I know works for me to level out again and regain my equilibrium.  I’ve learned to depend on the knowledge that whether visible or not, I have a core of resilience and it seems to be getting stronger though I can’t always tell.

My capacity for resilience will not disappear because I’m going through hard times. It’s like that plane flying through turbulence. It judders and the engines surge. The fuselage shudders and the wings flex, but it keeps flying. I think we are designed like that plane to move through life’s inevitable adversities. We learn to trust that the plane will keep flying and accept that sometimes the air won’t be smooth. In the end, we learn to trust our ability to get through adversity. This is how our resilience capacity develops and grows stronger.