Resilience is the ability to respond to life with a sense of control and to tolerate surprises or unexpected life events.
Resilience goes beyond the capacity just to deal with life’s problems, it is the ability to embrace and fully enjoy life with all its ups and downs. We only really know how resilient we are when life throws us a curve ball – like coping with a mood disorder.
The good news is our capacity for resilience grows from managing stressful events.
Resilient people share common qualities:
- They seek ways to become independent.
- Take charge and make changes when life makes them unhappy.
- Learn from their experiences – good and bad.
- See new situations as a challenge rather than something to be feared or avoided.
- Find opportunity in a crisis and focus on solving problems.
- Are able to find meaning and purpose in the problems they face.
- Seek out people who support them and provide them with a good example of how to cope.
- Are able to laugh at themselves and find humour in their situation.
- Have the moral courage to do the right thing even if it makes them unpopular.
Resilience is one of the aims of the12 Step program of recovery from addictive type behaviours. The promises of AA give hope that resilience can be achieved.
“We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, pp 83-4)