How Resilient Are You?
Dear Conscious Community,
Do you ever wonder how you, or someone you know, has survived one or many very challenging situations, and still turned out OK? In fact, you turned out more than OK. Indeed, as a result of difficult life circumstances, you developed exceptional skills that in some way make you rather “special.”
Well, you are probably right. Norman Garmezy, a developmental psychologist and clinician at the University of Minnesota, researched thousands of children for four decades. These children all had very challenging lives. And about two-thirds of them ended up having seemingly predictable issues: early pregnancy, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, prison, homelessness, and mental illness. But about one-third of them ended up becoming impressive individuals, with successful relationships and careers.
Garmezy credits this to an attribute he calls resilience. Resilience is the ability to succeed, even excel, in life, despite incredibly difficult circumstances.
You may then wonder how this is – what makes this group of individuals able to handle serious life stressors well, and even end up thriving? What do these individuals possess that makes them “special”?
Garmezy explained that these individuals have four characteristics in common that make them quite resilient in life. These characteristics include:
- Autonomy. As children, these individuals learned to rely on themselves, not others. They believe that they have quite a bit of control over their own destiny.
- Independence. The resilient subjects share an inherent sense of belief in themselves. They are not afraid to try new things, nor of failing when they try.
- Spirituality. These people have a deep connection with a force outside themselves. This connection lets them know that they are loved and that they will be OK.
- Positive social orientation. Despite hardships, these individuals see their glass as half full. They show up in life and have a pro-social attitude towards others and themselves.
Garmezy believes – and I agree – that resilience is a set of skills that can be taught. This matches my own life experience and what I have seen with family members, loved ones, and clients.
Working with a therapist or a counselor who has experience with trauma is one way to help increase one’s resilience. The therapist can help you work through difficulties and develop greater resilience, so you can deal more proactively with problems and develop up to your full potential.
If you are facing difficulties right now, you may well be able to use some resilience skill building. Some of the stories on this site may help you, including in my ebook. And please feel free to call me and share about where you’ve been, and where you want to go.