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  • Writer's pictureGladys Agwai

How to Be Resilient and Meet the Challenges of the Future!

“Like tiny seeds with potent power to push through tough ground and become mighty trees, we hold innate reserves of unimaginable strength. We are resilient.” -Catherine DeVrye”

I am tougher than any tough time, she said! Most people like her consistently face all types of adversity and crises in their life. The crises can be illness, loss of loved ones, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, bullying, job loss, financial instability, terrorist attacks, mass shootings, natural disasters, and pandemics like COVID-19. Each of these situations will affect people differently which brings a flood of thoughts, strong emotions, and uncertainty. To survive and thrive during these times, it requires people to learn coping mechanisms to work through and bounce back from challenging life experiences that include setbacks. Bouncing back does not mean you are down one moment and up the next. It requires time, knowing and executing on your strengths, and getting help from your support systems.

Change is constant and you must learn to use change and not be destroyed by change. The key coping mechanism during adversity is psychological resilience which is your “ability to cope with a crisis mentally or emotionally or return to pre-crisis status quickly. When you use mental processes and behaviors in promoting a personal advantage and protecting yourself from the negative impact of the stressors mentioned, you are demonstrating resilience.” It does not mean you do not experience stress, emotional upheaval, and suffering. When resilient, you not only have mental toughness, but demonstrate it by working through emotional pain and suffering. But what are the types of resilience?

Emotional: You tap into realistic optimism when dealing with a crisis.

Physical: Your body’s ability to adapt to challenges and recover quickly.

Community: Your ability to respond to and recover from community situations, such as, natural disasters, acts of violence, or economic hardship.

Resilience requires flexibility, adaptability, and perseverance while changing your thoughts, behaviors, and actions around the situation.

Dr. Sood, Everyday Health Wellness Advisory Board, determined the five principles of resilience are: 1) gratitude, 2) compassion, 3) acceptance, 4) meaning, and 5) forgiveness. There is no universal formula to become more resilient. However, anyone can learn and develop how to leverage it.

Resiliency is used during overwhelming moments of crises including all the “daily” stressors encountered while nurturing your protective factors. The factors noted below will help you build your resilience improving your adaptability and ability to cope.

• Social support systems include immediate or extended family, community, friends, and organizations.

• Realistic planning plays to your strengths with a focus on attainable goals.

• Self-esteem provides a positive sense of self and confidence in your strengths to guard against feelings of powerlessness.

• Coping and problem-solving skills empowers you to work through tough situations.

• Clear and effective communication skills enable you to provide and mobilize support of resources and act.

• Emotional regulation provides you with the capacity to manage or get assistance to support overwhelming emotions to remain focused through the challenge.

It is crucial for you to model resilience for the young people in your circles of influence. Ken Ginsburg, Pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, developed the 7 Cs model of resilience to ensure a happier and a more resilient life.

1. Competence: The ability to know how to handle situations effectively to trust your judgments to make responsible choices.

2. Confidence: True self-confidence is rooted in competence and gained in real life situations.

3. Connection: Close ties to family, friends, and community provide a sense of security and belonging.

4. Character: Fundamental sense of right and wrong to make responsible choices, contribute to society, and experience self-worth.

5. Contribution: A sense of purpose and contributing to your community reinforces positive reciprocal relationships.

6. Coping: Helps you better prepare to handle adversity and setbacks.

7. Control: Internal control helps individuals act as problem-solvers instead of victims viewing themselves as capable and confident.

Increasing your resilience takes time and intentionality. Focusing on the below will empower you to withstand and learn from difficult and traumatic experiences.

• Build your connections by prioritizing relationships with empathetic, understanding, trustworthy, and compassionate people who understand the skills required to be resilient. Also join a group for social support.

• Wellness through self-care for your mental and physical health is important when building resilience. Avoid negative actions, like, alcohol or drugs. Learn to manage your stress rather than eliminating the feeling altogether.

• Find purpose by helping others through volunteering or supporting a friend in need. Acknowledge and accept how you feel during hard times and be proactive by assessing your life and any problems you find. Chunk or break up big problems into manageable pieces. If you get fired and you are overwhelmed, update your CV or research things you want to do. Focus on the future and potential opportunities during the struggle, for example, your personal growth, or improved relationships.

• Positive mindset will play a huge part in how resilient you will be. It is important to notice irrational thinking that makes the problem seem worse than it really is. Accept that change is constant and the need for change exists. See the opportunity within change and what you can control within it.

• Ask for help when you need it, i.e., support group. There is no shame in getting help from a licensed mental health professional to develop your strategy to move forward. The important thing is to remember is you are not alone on the journey.

• Resilience gives you the emotional strength to cope with trauma, adversity, and hardship. When you lack resilience, you are more likely to be overwhelmed, feel powerless, and rely on unhealthy coping strategies. While you may not be able to control all your circumstances, you can grow by focusing on the aspects you can control.

“If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces.” Shane Koyczan

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