Let’s face it, life can be straight up hideous. It is filled with countless setbacks, mountainous obstacles, and so many failures we would need an accountant just to tally them all. As much beauty and light as the world possesses, it seems to always be balanced out by darkness. But if you have had the pleasure of being closely acquainted with our friend, 2020, you already know this truth all too well.
This is why a significant portion of psychology research is dedicated to understanding the concept of resilience. Resilience is defined as one’s ability to overcome all those setbacks, obstacles, and failures that will inevitably show up. And trust me, they always do. It doesn’t matter how rich you are, how high your IQ is, or what zip code you live in. Life WILL challenge you. And what happens to you when those challenges arise will greatly be determined by your resilience factor.
According to the Conner-Davidson Resilience Scale, a few of the main factors that we use to measure our resiliency include: our belief that we can handle whatever comes, our ability to adapt to change, whether or not we give up when things feel hopeless, our view of our own strength, our understanding of our purpose, our ability to see humor, whether or not we are willing to turn to resources and our support system for help, how we handle uncomfortable or upsetting feelings, and, possibly one of the most important, our ability to problem-solve. These are all incredibly important factors, but I personally tend to view those that require action as the most paramount. We can learn to sit with our uncomfortable feelings and think positively all day long, but if we don’t take action to create tangible changes, our life will always look the same.
When psychologists study the traits of extraordinarily accomplished individuals, from champion athletes to top business executives, they find a major commonality that separates them from the rest of the pack. It is not that these individuals garner milder weather or experience an overall easier life. That is probably what most of us on the outside think when we view people on top. We automatically assume that it is their privileged position that makes their life less difficult, that they don’t know what its like to struggle like most do. But that is a false narrative.
The people on top do not have less challenges, they have a greater ability to overcome them. That is the difference. Resiliency, like every other skill in life, can be learned and developed with the proper tools. Psychology experts have found 6 main elements that people can focus on if they want to have the type of resiliency a year like 2020 requires.
- Composure: Our initial reaction to hardship is often avoidance or blaming. Instead, accept your role in the situation and what you have control over. Then, actively problem solve to change those things within your control.
- Own-Worth: Know what you value and what you stand for. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries in order to allow those values to survive.
- Mastery: Don’t wait for the moments of hardship to build yourself up. Even when life feels like it’s smooth sailing, take advantage of that time to work on your weaknesses so that when the storms come, you are prepared.
- Positivity: What you focus on grows. Place your focus on the good you already possess and the good you are working toward in the future. Make notes of your accomplishments and be hopeful that anything is possible if you believe it.
- Achievement: Recognize and accept your talents and strengths. You have a unique set of skills that you can use when life gets tough. Have faith these skills will propel you forward.
- Satisfaction with Life: Practice mindfulness every single day. Your health and well-being are always a priority and if you are taking good care of your mind and body, the difficulties of life can’t overpower you.
So, instead of spending your energy praying that life will be gentle on you, spend it building up your resiliency so that the cards you are dealt becomes irrelevant. You will rise and conquer no matter how unlucky the hand may be.
Written by: Aubrey Koel, LCP