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Finding Your Way Along Bumpy Paths: Benefits of Resilience and Strategies to Build It

Being able to regain your footing after a setback is important at any time. But in the current throes of the coronavirus pandemic and all its implications, being resilient is essential. Having strategies to cope with unexpected events can help navigate rough roads.

Francine M. Oran, RMA/AHI (AMT) is an Instructor in the Medical Assisting Program at Southeast Community College in Nebraska.

 

This blog post on resiliency is based on the excellent book “Resilient Journey: Turning Difficulties into Diamonds” by Glenn Richardson and Keith Karren (2020 Health matters TODAY Integrated Health & Wellness. Heber City, UT)

Benefits of Resilience

Being able to regain your footing after a setback is important at any time. But in the current throes of the coronavirus pandemic and all its implications, being resilient is essential.

As an instructor in the Medical Assisting Program at Southeast Community College in Nebraska, I try to convey to students the necessity of having strategies to cope with unexpected events that happen on the job when they work as medical assistants.

I see resilience in the personal lives of my students as well. One of my students, Diondria “Onnie” Wilkinson, displayed resilience in the pursuit of her goal of attending school to train as a medical assistant. Despite having to withdraw from the MA program due to a child’s medical complications, Onnie was able to rejoin the program by being determined and pulling together her resources. See Onnie’s full story here.

No matter where you are in your own life, you will experience smooth roads and very rough roads. And between these two extremes will be disruptions, breaks in your normal routine, which will require you to adapt (p6)1. That adaptation is called resilience. But how can we be resilient? What are the strategies? How can we apply these strategies in our own lives?

What does resilience look like?

Resilience is the set of skills, the innate force inside you that enables you to take on life's disruptions and thrive.  Resilience empowers you to grow, become wiser and increase your coping capacity through adversity and challenges. Eric Greitens states that we all need resilience to live a fulfilling life. With resilience, you will be more prepared to take on challenges, to develop your talents, skills, and abilities so that you can live with more purpose and joy (p6)1. Simply stated, resilience helps you to become stronger and better every single day, regardless what is going on in your life (p7)1.

Resilience entails the process and experience of being disrupted by change, stressors, challenges and opportunities. When resilience is involved there are many valuable benefits, including:

  • Changing changes fear into the power of courage
  • Embracing stress to spring into growth
  • Taking adversity and bringing strength beyond your normal capacity
  • Changing confusion into discernment and confidence in your choice
  • Taking discouragement and revealing hope
  • Taking anxiousness and bringing calm and serenity
  • Taking anger and infusing you with compassion
  • Taking things beyond your control and giving you peace and acceptance
  • Inspiring your heart and mind with the right way to turn (p7)1

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from challenge or failure better than before. Resilient people do not dwell on their failures when something goes wrong. They look realistically at what happened, and learn from their mistakes, and move on. The truly resilient ones come out of the situation wiser, stronger, happier and better. An important thing to understand about resiliency is that it is not a one-time occurrence.  It is not a destination but a journey - a process through which you continually advance (p12)1.

The process of resiliency involves a recovery process that harnesses your innate ability, energy, and motivation to make things right, regroup, and thrive. In fact, you can do more than recover; you can experience peace and happiness. A lot of resiliency has to do with the way you look at things (p13)1.

Suzanne C. Kobasa, the psychologist who pioneered what she initially called "hardiness", attributes resilience to attitudes she dubbed the three Cs- challenge, commitment and control.  Resilient people see challenge as something exciting and as an opportunity to learn and grow. Resilient people have commitment to their goals, their dreams, and the people in their lives. It is important to be engaged and see most parts of your life as interesting and meaningful. Resilient people find ways to have control even in the worst of situations. Resilient people stay flexible and focus on what they can change. Resilient people have a sense of self-efficacy and the belief that you can influence outcomes in your life (p13)1.

Regardless of what has happened in your life, you can learn to be resilient. Certain qualities and traits are known to build resilience. Here are fifteen qualities you can adopt to build the resilience that you were born with:

  • Form positive relationships
  • Give yourself in service to people, organizations, and social causes
  • Have and use a good sense of humor
  • Base your choices and decisions on your personal goals
  • Develop an understanding of people and situations
  • Create a sense of independence
  • Foster optimism
  • Stay flexible
  • Cultivate a love of learning
  • Develop internal initiative-positive motivation within
  • Be good at something, so much that you recognize your personal competence
  • Build feelings of self-worth and self-confidence
  • Cultivate a sense of faith in something larger than yourself
  • Be persistent, and expand your creativity by expressing yourself through artistic endeavors (pp23-24)1

You have a deep reservoir of resilience resources that can provide you with the energy, motivation and drive to be stronger than any disruption or opposition you may face. It may not happen right away, and you might need to ponder and reflect before you get an infusion of strength from those resources; but once you are able to tap into those resources, you can tip the scales in your life toward resilience (p128)1

 

Reference

1 Richardson, G, Karren, K. Resilient Journey: Turning Difficulties into Diamonds. Health matters TODAY Integrated Health & Wellness. 2020.

 

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