The most common phrase used when people are trying to describe resilience is ‘bouncing back’, but I prefer the term ‘bouncing forward’. Sometimes you can’t get back to where you were before a serious challenge came your way – and that’s OK. To bounce forward implies that, while you might have been knocked off course, you can move on from it. According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is your capacity to deal with stress, adversity and uncertainty. Resilience is about bouncing back, rolling with the punches, getting back up on the horse. It’s our ability to take what life throws at us and use it to grow stronger. Our careers are no longer a matter of making a decision about what we want to do with the rest of our lives, getting an education and then following a straight-line career path to that dream job. Those days are long gone.
When you build your resilience, you are in a better position to adapt to ongoing changes. You accept change as a part of life and see change as an opportunity, not as a series of insurmountable obstacles.There are many problems in people’s lives and in communities. However, there are also many people who have faced great difficulties and traumas, but have survived. In fact, many have become even stronger as they faced and overcome their challenges. These people are role models for us, whether they are elders, youth, middle-aged adults, or even children. Science is now identifying the factors that create resilience, but Inuit traditionally have been using similar strategies.
Resilience can also help you feel more in control. You’re able to keep things in perspective and to see yourself as an actor in your life, rather than as a victim. High resilience also allows you to be more pro-active in responding to whatever gets thrown at you. It’s about believing that setbacks are often just a problem we haven’t solved yet, and that things can and will get better. The key is recognizing the realities of your situation and figuring out your options to move forward, without getting overwhelmed. Practicing resilience means avoiding catastrophising – exaggerating negativity and assuming that is the most likely outcome – by keeping things in perspective.
While this may sound difficult, or something reserved for those facing life-changing adversity, resilience is actually a capability that can be used every day in everything you do. People who are resilient are often referred to as being strong – particularly, mentally strong – when in fact, they’ve usually found different techniques like resetting, using positive self-talk or flexible thinking to work through problems. It might not seem obvious, but reaching out and asking for help is also a great way to develop resilience. It’s allows you to stretch and to grow though hardship and difficulty, while knowing that you have options and support.
People who are resilient are able to believe that although bad things and distressing feelings can happen, they can be overcome. They also have belief in their own ability to handle difficult situations. They have developed a variety of positive ways of dealing with problems. They are able and willing to learn or try new actions and new ways of thinking. Resilient people are often even stronger after difficult times, because they have learned new or better ways to cope and have developed even more faith in themselves. Inuit Elders stress that traditionally, children were taught from an early age that life will often be difficult but that difficulties will pass or can be overcome