Resiliency: Character Trait or Process?

We often use the word resiliency when we hear about stories of trauma or tragedy and how people have overcome them. By definition resilience is our ability to adapt to stress or adversity in a healthy way. Are some people more resilient than others? How do we create resiliency?

I think there is some confusion around the concept of resilience. It is often perceived as a character trait, something you have or don’t have. I would throw out that resilience is more of process than a trait and that several factors, both within ourselves and the environment, contribute. It takes us back to the old nature versus nurture debate. Some people are more optimistic and tend to see the positive in things, whereas others are more pessimistic. However this doesn’t mean that pessimistic people aren’t resilient. The environment plays a large part of how we adapt to adversity. If we have a strong support system, good family and friends, come from a positive, safe community, and have some education about ourselves and the world, this goes a long way in helping us cope and adapt to adversity. On the flip side to it, we sometime hear of stories where people survive horrible situations where they lack any sort of support or nurture and they are able to not just survive, but thrive.

The truth is most of us experience some sort of adversity throughout our life. Whether it be a health issue, trauma, or accident, we are more likely to be faced with some sort of adversity than to get through life completely unscathed. With this being said, over time, most of us are able to adapt to our situation and continue living and moving forward. It doesn’t happen overnight and sometimes can be quite a lengthy process, but whether it be through our own thinking and positivity or the love and support of those around us, we create resilience. Whether we think we are resilient or not, most of us have or will demonstrate this at some point throughout our life. We are all so much stronger that we gives ourselves credit for.



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