Some people experience problems or trauma and immediately descend into despair and immobility. Others, on the other hand, may undergo similar trials and are able to dust themselves off and continue, often with greater emotional fortitude than before.
Why are certain people more emotionally resilient than others? How can people build resilience? These are questions that psychologists have explored for decades.
Resilience is the ability to cope with challenges. It doesn’t mean avoiding or preventing stressful situations. Rather, it involves an acceptance that adversity is sometimes inevitable, an ability to handle personal trials with equanimity, and a determination to grow through the experience.
What techniques can you employ to build resilience? The following ideas may help.
Move beyond the 3 ‘P’s
The pioneer of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, identified that people who fail to cope well with difficulties in their lives tend to perceive problems as ‘personal’ (the problem is their fault), ‘pervasive’ (the problem will affect every area of their life) and ‘permanent’ (the problem will never be resolved).
A first step in building resilience is to recognise that these three ‘P’s are mostly untrue.
Focus on positivity
Resilient people tend to be optimists. They can see a silver lining in almost any negative situation.
While resilient people may recognise the negative aspects of any challenge, they also see potentially positive associations and implications.
For example, in a business development situation, a resilient professional who misses out on a contract may be disappointed. However, they are also likely to express gratitude for the fact that they now have more time to pursue other, potentially more lucrative deals. They can see the bigger picture.
Resilient people also ask themselves positive questions. Rather than a question like ‘Why me?’, they will ask something like ‘How can I use this situation for the long-term advantage of myself and others?’
Use challenges to grow and serve
Resilient people tend to perceive problems as opportunities for learning, growth and service to others.
There are many examples of people who have transformed the pain of misfortune into a pattern of behaviour that helps them to grow as individuals and better serve those around them.
Whenever you see someone who has achieved something extraordinary, you are also likely to notice a history of overcoming personal adversity.
Care for yourself
A direct correlation often exists between resilience and self-care.
Resilient people tend to have an established daily practice of positive personal habits, such as regular exercise, adequate sleep, meditation and a healthy diet.
They work daily on developing healthy relationships with other positive, resilient people. And they know how to ask for help from the right people whenever they experience challenges.
Give yourself the edge with free student membership
If you're a tertiary education student, The Tax Institute can help you progress in your career.
Find out about Student Membership.