The Power of Resilience
The only thing permanent about this world we live in is change.
Change can happen for the better or worse. Sometimes, change can also come in the form of a situation that causes ample distress. It is also completely normal for an individual to experience traumatic stress following a disturbing event.
With the pandemic being a huge part of our lives right now, most of us have experienced firsthand traumatic events on a wide spectrum, be it living in uncertainty about our future, losing a loved one unexpectedly to the virus, or losing an only source of income.
Despite everyone going through their own personal battles, isn’t it interesting to notice how everyone deals with stress differently, using various stress management techniques?
Upon losing a job, why does Person A enter a spiral of negative thoughts and surrender to them, whereas Person B uses the very same instance as motivation to start something new?
After being met with a car accident rendering oneself handicapped, why do some thrive and find new meaning to life while others merely survive?
Resilience and Stress
The answer to the above questions is resilience–the ability to cope effectively with trauma and get back on your feet.
Some people cope with trauma through avoidance (drugs, alcohol, overeating, gambling, etc.).
But a resilient person accepts what they can’t change and works on what they can. This does not, however, mean that a resilient person does not experience stress.
Instead, they are better equipped to focus on the positives and get themselves out of the downward spiral of helplessness and negativity.
Qualities of a Resilient Person
Knowing what resilience is, one might wonder about the qualities that make a person bounce back from stressful situations.
The following are some of the most prominent traits of a resilient person:
Resilient people are fully aware of the situation that they are in, as well as their emotional behaviors, and the reactions of the people around them.
They are ready to face the truth and acknowledge what they have been through. They take control and manage their emotional responses by investing time into understanding what triggers them and why.
Sense of Control
Another important trait that links to the point above is what psychologists call ‘internal locus of control’–believing you control most events in your life instead of external forces.
It is important to feel like you possess the power to directly impact change. A resilient person uses this to their advantage by setting a goal and taking the responsibility to reach that goal.
A resilient person recognizes how negative thoughts do not lead them to any sort of development and instead focuses on the things that are in their favor.
They believe in their strengths and capabilities and are able to come up with solutions.
Willingness to Ask for Help
Social connectedness has also proven to be an important factor when it comes to coping with trauma. Not being afraid to ask for help enables the individual to easily get connected to resources that may directly help them cope.
Resources may take various forms such as traditional therapy, non-invasive therapy such as anxiety treatment without medication, seeking advice or even financial or emotional support.
When dealing with change, emotional and cognitive flexibility is one of the most prominent factors that correlate to success.
In order to be resilient, one must acknowledge that old ways will no longer work and a new plan needs to be devised in order for one to thrive. Resilience involves taking up new challenges despite the risk of failure.
Resilient people experience fear too, but they are willing to face it head on.
Our personalities and life experiences also help shape who we are and impact our perception of resilience. Genetics has also proven to correlate with a person’s ability to be resilient, but this relation doesn’t seem to be a huge contributor.
Therefore, it’s never too late to practice being resilient.
Don’t be afraid of failure.
Try out things that you have not before.
Be the change you want to see.
Dr. Upasana Gala is the founder and CEO of Evolve Brain Training, a Neurofeedback-centered institute that focuses on using non-invasive brain training techniques to maximize the brain's true potential.