Hardiness, grit, toughness, resourcefulness, tenacity, and perseverance are words commonly associated with resiliency.

Why resiliency, you ask? Well, why not? We've all read about the incredible stories of endurance, heartache, setbacks, and traumas that people have overcome and continue to overcome every single day. People are simply amazing! I work with many people who have learned how to overcome difficult challenges and I often wonder what makes one person manage the difficult and challenging times better than another?

Resiliency. Simply put, it's a person's ability to overcome and adapt to adversity, and, many times, thrive despite the hardships that life often yields. Though being resilient isn't always simple, nor easy. When I think of resiliency, I also think about a person's 'ego strength' or how a person can effectively manage the ups and downs of life, the difficult challenges, the hardships. We all have them. I think of those moments when things seem impossible. Totally impossible. It's those events in life that challenge us the most that help to create the resiliency in each of us. Being resilient involves maintaining flexibility and balance in your life as you deal with stressful circumstances and traumatic events.

Resiliency is not a characteristic that either a person does or does not have but is determined by both inborn traits and environmental factors, which ultimately affect our capacity to adapt to stress. It is viewed as a process, ultimately influenced by a person's thoughts and actions that, over time, can be both learned and developed. People often become more resilient with life experiences and events that help shape who we are and is referred to as Post Traumatic Growth. Negative life experiences can create tremendous growth in a person and doesn't have to leave them feeling defeated – but determined, strong, centered, and purpose driven.

Although there are difficult and challenging environmental factors that are hard to change, developing mental and physical habits that foster positive adaptation to stress can increase a person's level of resilience.

What are the important factors in having greater resiliency?

• Having a supportive and caring environment, which includes family and friends

• Creating, maintaining, and sustaining healthy relationships that create love and trust.

• Having role models who offer support and encouragement.

• The ability to manage strong feelings and impulses.

• Good communication and problem solving abilities.

• Cultivating a positive, healthy view of yourself as well as confidence in your strengths and abilities.

• Acknowledging your limitations in areas of your life that are not as strong as others and creating a more realistic view of both yourself and your situation. This allows you to move forward in a direction that promotes resiliency.

• The capacity to make realistic plans and take necessary steps to carry them out.

Want to become more resilient?

• Look at the crisis or problems in your life not as insurmountable but achievable.

• Reinterpret negative events. Although you cannot change that stressful events occurred, you can change your thoughts and feelings about them, and ultimately how you manage them.

• Accept that change is part of life and it is part of your journey.

• Use adversity as an opportunity for self-discovery. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, a greater sense of strength during vulnerable moments, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality, and heightened appreciation for life.

• Develop confidence in your ability to solve problems and trust your instincts.

• Remain hopeful about the future.An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Visualize what you want, rather than worry about what you fear.

• Enhance positive emotions. Can you manage your emotions effectively? Being able to effectively modulate your emotions results in creating more effective coping mechanisms to deal with stress and trauma.

• Work it out! Become more physically fit. Incorporate more physical exercise in your life on a regular basis.

• Accept challenges. Instead of moving away from them, move towards them. Set the bar higher. Learn to persevere even through the difficult times.

• Maintain a close network. Having people in your life who not only understand but also listen to you is invaluable. They will help you through the difficult times and provide support when needed.

• Accept the only constant in life is change. To move forward in life means accepting that change will continue to occur and some may be good, some bad. There will be change we bring upon ourselves and some that is placed upon us. Look at what you can change and look not at what you cannot.

• Recognize that there are positives to life's challenges and that they help build character.

• Add some levity to your life. Humor and laughter is simply the best medicine. Learn to roll with life's changes and persevere despite the challenges.


Scientific American Mind, July/August, 2013

American Psychological Association. The Road to Resilience.

This article originally appeared at http://kristindavin.com/strength-despite-adversity/ . Dr. Kristin Davin (AKA "Dr. D") is a Divorce Mediator and Clinical Psychologist practicing in New York City. Her approach is based upon Cognitive Behavior Therapy combined with Solution Focused Therapy. You can learn more at www.kristindavin.com.