Resilience is an important aspect of dealing with change. But what is resilience and how do we get it? Resilience is when one has the “ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions” (dictionary.com). Life is full of change and sometimes that change is difficult. One of the things that helps you get through those times is resilience.
Depending on who you ask, they may say resilience is part of who you are and some people have more than others. Others may say that you develop resilience over time based on the types of experiences you have. In the field of psychology this is the eternal debate of nature vs. nurture. Is it genes or environment that determines who you are are: personality, appearance, abilities, and preferences?
The answer is a combination of both nature AND nurture. However, some traits are weighted more heavily in one or the other. Resilience is one such trait. Your genes determine a part of resilience but without environmental pressures and experiences, the full extent of your genetic code may not be expressed.
An example is that if you are a highly resilient person, gene-wise, but you never have a significant challenging experience, you’d never know how resilient you could be. Some of our best traits are apparent in times of adversity.
If you are not challenged, you won’t know your full ability and capability. In America, resilience is built into our culture. There are terms used to exemplify resilience, “Pull yourself up by the bootstraps!” (unknown), and quotes by those who have experienced adversity “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it” (Helen Keller). The take home message is that you have resilience, but you’ll never know how much until it is challenged.
Right now in America, it is that time. We are missing our “normal” life, activities, dreams, and challenges. Life is now inextricably different and we have no choice but to be resilient and adapt to the difficult circumstances we find ourselves in currently. The future may be unknown as far as what it will look like and what will need to change. But one thing is certain: you are resilient and you can handle what life hands you!
Michelle A. Culver, LMFT