Pain, suffering, tragedy and rejection are all regular experiences that are a part of life. Some individuals are capable of processing difficult emotions easier, while others find it to be incredibly taxing. Though with each experience, we take new lessons and skills that help us in becoming more resilient. Resilience is the critical “bouncing back” after a difficult experience. It is about positively adapting to a situation and being able to process a significantly adverse event (Werner, 2005). These adverse events can range in depth. It can range from losing a loved one, to a physical injury, or to failing an exam. The difference in depth lies in how the person processes this situation. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that with any difficult individual experience, resilience also shows up differently within each person.
In moments where we become overwhelmed by sadness, anger, disappointment, and fear, finding the will to keep moving forward can feel impossible. Finding solutions and remaining positive when we feel like our world has come crashing down is, at times, beyond fathomable. But in those moments, it is important to remain kind to yourself. It is encouraged to give yourself room to breathe and be upset for however long you feel is necessary. In the midst of processing these heavy experiences, there are 4 recommended strategies that can be used to cope. By using these strategies, it will also aid in becoming a more resilient person.
- Practice self-compassion. Acknowledge your traumas, sufferings, and challenges. View them with the lens of kindness and most importantly, without judgement. Look back and recognise the need for love and support by offering it to yourself.
- Cultivate forgiveness. Forgiveness is a powerful practice where you take the experiences you have gone through and see how it’s affected you in the past and in the present. Make a commitment to forgive – whether it be to a situation, another person, or to yourself. This will open a positive opportunity for growth.
- Seek connections and prioritise relationships. As social creatures, humans have a need for belonging, trust and intimacy. Surrounding yourself with individuals that make you feel safe and connected allows for the capacity to be loved.
- Face your fears by being vulnerable. Aim to remove the fear attached to those adverse moments so they can no longer hold you back. Expose yourself to situations where you are vulnerable in order to disassociate any past pain and learn how to self-regulate and adaptively rise above.
As we move forward, adversity, obstacles and maybe even traumatic experiences are things we can continue to see within our lives. It is not a one-size-fits-all experience, and everyone copes with pain and disappointment differently. But with these 4 strategies in mind, the aim is to acknowledge the strength you have within and continue fostering non-judgmental understanding for the emotions you have felt in these situations. Applaud yourself for how far you have come for it has been an incredible challenge… and if you take a closer look around you, we are all resilient people.
If you think you would benefit from professional support to improve your mental health and resilience, you can find help here.
Chloé Möller currently has a Masters in Clinical Psychology and is further pursuing another in Work & Organisational Psychology, whilst being an intern at Willingness
Newman, K. (2016). Five Science-Backed Strategies to Build Resilience. Greater Good. Retrieved 7 May 2021, from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/five_science_backed_strategies_to_build_resilience
Hone, L. (2019). 3 Secrets of Resilient People. Speech, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Werner, E. E. (2005). Resilience research. In Resilience in children, families, and communities (pp. 3-11). Springer, Boston, MA.