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Teaching Resiliency

Resilience is the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad has happened. It is the ability to overcome challenges or trauma. This is an ability that comes in varying levels in people. Some people show incredible resilience despite horrific circumstances, while others can crumble under much less. Since some people are not born with an inherent resilience, it has become a set of skills that needs to be taught, starting at a very young age, but that can also be taught to an adult even after incredible amounts of difficulties or hardships.

How is resilience measured?

While it is not necessarily possible to measure resilience directly, there are factors or attributes that may be present in a person that would indicate or suggest they have more resiliency. For example, a person who has more secure, positive, and supportive relationships will most likely be more resilient because they have been taught how to seek help and can rest some of the weight of a burden on others. The ability to maintain relationships is a good indicator of how they will cope with strong or negative emotions because they will have most likely witnessed them in others and had to be that support person. The ability to make plans and follow through on them is also a strong indicator. It shows will power, dedication, problem solving skills, and focus. All of these show promise in a person’s ability to overcome difficult situations or strong emotions. The more positive of a view of yourself or the higher your self-confidence or self-esteem the more resilient you would appear to be. The more confidence you face a situation with the more likely you are to overcome it and it reduces the likelihood of giving up or becoming overwhelmed. And finally, emotional regulation skills are a major indicator in how resilient a person will be. The ability to cope with strong emotions is vital in overcoming trauma or negative experiences. The more able you are to cope with the emotions, the more likely you will be to move forward or past an obstacle rather than letting it stop you or shutting down. This also includes having a variety of coping skills that are used in daily moments of difficulty that can be transferred over to times when facing more extreme adversity. These skills and the ability to use them improve the ability to overcome emotions and build resilience.

How to teach or build resilience:

Building resilience is a process. It cannot be taught overnight and does not develop immediately. Considering in most cases, it is not taught until it is needed, it is important to consider the state the person is in when beginning this process. Resilience is best taught as a preventative measure, meaning a set of skills that is taught so that a person has developed resilience in case something bad happens rather than a set of skills that is taught because something bad has happened to a person and now they must over come it. Either way, it is a process that is each person’s personal journey and should be unique to that person. Some ways to build resilience or help teach people resilience are:

Form Healthy Relationships: close relationships with family and friends will build a support network that can serve as a base for you to lean on when faced with adversity. They can help teach you resilience through example and add strength to your own personal resilience with support.

Accept Challenges: accept that bad things will happen but viewing them as circumstances that you will face and can overcome verses insurmountable crisis will assist in moving past them rather than allowing them to beat you.

Stop Fearing Change: accepting that change is an inevitable part of life will lessen its negative impact on you and strengthen your ability to face it when it happens. Accepting what cannot be changed will also help you to cope with challenges in life by reducing the factors that you have to face.

Set Small Goals: setting small goals that you can succeed at and accomplish will help reduce feelings of being stuck or of failure. It keeps you moving towards goals without becoming overwhelmed.

Avoid Detaching: take action and be in control of situations rather than allowing them to control you. Not acting on situations will add to feelings of helplessness and work against resiliency. Taking action, even in small ways builds a sense of control, power, and strength.

Focus on Positive Change: focusing on the growth resulting from struggles rather than on the negative impacts help build resiliency and presents more opportunity for strength and positive change. In most cases, people can learn more about themselves and come out of tragedy improved in some way. Focusing on this reduces the emotional damage that it can cause.

Keep Perspective: remember to look at the whole picture rather than blowing up one small aspect into a bigger out of proportion obstacle. This will help in tackling problems without them becoming overwhelming.

Maintain Hope: giving up hope for positive change is the exact opposite of resilience. Giving up hope is to give up. Hope keeps us moving forwards and allows us to tackle challenges that come our way, even without immediate success. Being hopeful that this too will pass and the future can be bright will keep you going and build resilience through trauma.

Keep Self-Care: remember to stop and take care of yourself. Nurture yourself physically and mentally. Do not lose yourself in the difficult times, but care for yourself so that you have the strength to survive the difficult times.

Ask For Help: find help if you need it, from friends, family, or professionals. Part of resilience is knowing your limits and asking for and accepting help when you need it.


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