At some point in our lives, almost all of us will experience a challenging event. One friend had a tree fall on his house. I see clients who have been in car accidents or undergone major surgeries. In the face of hardship, some people cope well and some just can’t manage to pull it together afterwards. What can make the difference? Resilience.

The Mayo Clinic’s page on resilience defines it this way:

When you have resilience, you harness inner strength that helps you rebound from a setback or challenge, such as a job loss, an illness, a disaster or the death of a loved one. If you lack resilience, you might dwell on problems, feel victimized, become overwhelmed or turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse.

Resilience won’t make your problems go away — but resilience can give you the ability to see past them, find enjoyment in life and better handle stress.

What makes a person more resilient? A recent NIH study reveals two key characteristics:

  • They have good social support.
  • They feel like they have mastery over their lives.

What is mastery? It’s a sense the hard work counts and that you’re in control of your situation despite adverse events. A Psychology Today blog article from earlier this year, Why Some People are More Resilient than Others, defines mastery like this:

Mastery refers to the degree to which individuals perceive themselves as having control and influence over life circumstances.

Resilience is a skill that can be learned. To build more resilience, here are a few  tips to use as starting points. For more ideas, see articles from the Mayo Clinic and WebMD.

ACL surgery - resilience can help with recovery and rehabilitation.

ACL surgery – resilience can help with recovery and rehabilitation.

  • Stay Flexible
  • Stay Connected
  • Learn lessons
  • Take Action
  • Take care of yourself

Additional resources:

A conversation about resilience on The Friday Roundtable, from Minnesota Public Radio

Psychology Today’s resilience page


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