Updated: May 2, 2020
If resilience is the ability to bounce back after an adverse event--and life deals us many adverse events--the question remains: How do we become more resilient?
Let's first understand the construct of resilience by viewing a synthesis of research by Gill Windle (2011):
Resilience is the process of effectively negotiating, adapting to, or managing significant sources of stress or
trauma. Assets and resources within the individual, their life and environment facilitate this capacity for
adaptation and ‘bouncing back’ in the face of adversity. Across the life course, the experience of resilience will
By definition then, each person has a unique resiliency foundation that plays a role in his or her adaptability to bounce back after a fair amount of distress or a traumatic event. At the same time, the magnitude of stressors and trauma a person has experienced can negate the protection of resilience, like a crack in the foundation. Should resiliency take a hit, it is important to reassess and reconstruct any protection lost. Resiliency can grow and become an even stronger force of protection then it was before.
While every person's experience of resilience varies, we are all able to forge additional "assets and resources within" to cultivate seeds of resilience, and strengthen our shield of protection. It is possible (and advisable) to build a stronger force of resilience in ourselves, and help loved ones do the same.
As we thirst for more resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to explore the foundational building blocks of resilience, described as "the seven C's" (Ginsburg & Jablow, 2011). I will share these through a counseling lens so you can explore the ways in which your own seeds of resilience can grow.
Competence - skills and strengths
What coping skills have you used in the past to help you through difficult things?
What are some of your strengths?
Confidence - believing in one's abilities
In what ways do you recognize your competence?
Provide some examples of how you used your strengths in the past?
Connection - a meaningful relationship with someone in your life
Who provides you support?
Describe how you will hold yourself accountable to your values as you connect with yourself?
Character - standing by your core values
Share a time in your life you showed tenacity for something that was important to you.
Describe when you have felt determined to stand up for something?
Contribution - helping another or the world around you
Think of an occasion in your life that you helped someone else?
Describe a moment you would have helped the community or society if you could?
Coping - pushing through despite discomfort
Explain when you ever felt nervous about a situation, but pushed through despite?
How can you employ one of your strengths to help you persevere?
Control - the ability to make and act on a choice
Describe choices or decisions you have made in the last week.
How do your choices impact you and those around?
As awareness of the building blocks of resiliency within us grows, motivation to cultivate more resilience will also improve. We will be better protected for adverse events, which will happen in varying degrees of intensity throughout life.
There is no doubt about it; life can be very hard. But it is never too late to strengthen our foundation and protection of resilience. We need to continue to empower ourselves and repair our shields of protection in healthy ways throughout life. Resiliency is a power we grow within, but in order to cultivate the seeds of resilience, our intention and attention are continuously required.
So I will add an eighth C. Counseling. Counseling helps foster resiliency for those who are open to the help -- it's what we do.
I am happy to help you become empowered to cultivate your resilience. Just reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (513) 234-9184.
Easterbrooks, M.A., Ginsburg, K. & Lerner, RM. (2013). Resilience among military youth. JSTOR.
Ginsburg, K.R. (2011). Building resilience in children and teens: Giving kids roots & wings. 2nd ed. Elk Grove
Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
Windle, G. (2011). What is resilience? A review and concept analysis. Cambridge University Press.