Ever wonder why some people seem to be able to deal so much better with adversity than others? We've all heard the cliche's "When the going gets tough, the tough get going" or "When life serves you lemons, make lemonade". Easy to say - harder to do. And yet most of us know persons who remain upbeat no matter what the situation, people who deal with life's tougher moments and still come through as good or better than before.
The ability to deal with, and bounce back from tough times is called resiliency. Clinically defined, resiliency is the capability of an individual to cope with stress and adversity in ways that are both effective, and allow a person to respond constructively to future challenges. In other words it's how to deal with tough times and come back better than ever. for 21st century learners, coping with an ever changing and uncertain world, resiliency is a much needed skill.
Everyone admires resilience. The big question is where to find it? Is it something a person is just born with? Is it genetic or a product of circumstance? Some people believe that resilience is some sort of random magic: that people either have it or they don't. Others believe resiliency comes from a variety of internal and external factors: that it is sometimes inherent in a person's nature, but that it can also be developed, or impeded, within a person depending upon external influences and circumstances.
One thing experts do agree upon is that resilient individuals are better able to cope with change, and even if we are not certain where resilience comes from, we do recognize its characteristics. Resilient individuals are positive, focused, flexible, organized and proactive. Resilient individuals see life as challenging but full of opportunities. They make goals and determinedly forge forwards to attain them. They are open to different possibilities and options and develop strategies to deal with the unknown. Ultimately they are forward looking. they engage with their surroundings and work with them. They are survivors, by and large, happier and more content than most people.
Resiliency should not to confused with motivation. Anyone who has faced a difficult decision knows how easy it can be to procrastinate to delay the moment of truth. Resilience does not trump Newton's first Law of Physics. A body at rest will stay at rest, unless acted upon by an outside force. Instead, resilience, or its lack, becomes evident once the force has been applied. Resilience shows up in to how a person reacts to adversity. Patience may be a virtue, but jut sitting around waiting for something good to happen is neither efficient nor effective as a resilience strategy.
As adults working with children we need to both model and develop resilience for both our students and colleagues. The antithesis of resilience is burn out: with its attitude of indifference, apathy and inactivity. Being resilient takes effort and resources. Not everyone has the strength of will to do things completely on their own. Children need to be taught to enlist and be the support of others. Together we can all seek and share the load. Resilience involves being willing to adapt one's style to suit the situation. Some people respond best to encouragement, some require a firmer nudge; the key is to support people in a positive manner. Relentless optimism is not nagging, and positive insistence is not running a person down till they want to quit, contrary to what reality television shows portray. Ironically it is is the perseverance and resilience of regular people on such shows that makes them popular. More than anything, we need to remember to build some fun and reward into the task. Just because something is hard doesn't mean it has to engender feelings of hopelessness. Real resilience includes learning to laugh at adversity, finding ways to overcome it and celebrating even the smallest successes.
Adversity and change are hard. Life happens and its not always easy. Helping each other to cope and succeed is a good thing. By staying positive, focused, flexible, organized and proactive we can deal with most of life's challenges. When things get hard we can, through our own efforts, or, with the help and support of others get through and come out better for the experience. Resilience is not about sailing through life unchallenged, but rather about how we deal with challenge. Like another cliche states "its not how many times you get knocked down, it what you do when you get back up that matters". Resilient folks bounce back and push on better than ever!