What makes a person stand and face suffering and adversity, while others remain stagnant in the same place, unable to move forward when facing the crisis? The answer is a concept of positivist psychology: resilience. The definition of the word resilience could not be clearer, according to Boris Cyrulnik, who coined this concept. He said that resilience was starting new development after trauma. Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of trauma or tragedy, threats, or other significant sources of stress.
The resilience of the human being is marked by what happens, not just after the traumatic event, but before the event. In general, there are studies showing that people who have had a childhood marked by abandonment, in which they could not develop emotional intelligence or learn to regulate their emotions, are more likely to succumb to the crisis compared to people who had parents who allowed them to develop a secure attachment. These people usually deal with a small neurological malformation that prevents them from controlling emotions and they collapse when facing a serious life event, such as losing their job due to the coronavirus, marital problems, or any other similar crisis.
What do I mean by all this? Resilience is not something innate, it is not learned when the crisis arrives. Resilience is a character trait and a strength that can be learned. Resilience has even been compared to learning how to play the guitar. When you first try to play, your fingers get sore and you get frustrated. Some may even quit after the second or third lesson. A resilient person pushes past that initial discomfort and soon begins to realize that there is greater joy and satisfaction ahead.
Resilience is an attitude that must be learned from childhood as you grow in a loving support system. In fact, the first months of human life are crucial to controlling your emotions in the adult stage. But there are also other factors that determine resilience. Some of these factors are the following: people’s religious beliefs, the level of your emotional intelligence, and access to a support group. I need to clarify that there is no magic bullet concerning the development of resilience. Research has shown that no single factor determines resilience for a population. It is therefore up to each person to strive in the midst of adversity.
If we allow the Bible to speak to us about this matter, we will find Job, who showed a high level of resilience when he lost everything and decided to trust God, saying: “for I know that my Redeemer lives; and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God” (Job 19:25-27). Joseph showed resilience when he was sold by his brothers and slandered by Potiphar’s wife, but he did not let any of this ruin his dream. The Apostle Paul suffered like no other disciple in life (2 Corinthians 11:16-33), and at the end of his career he said, “I have fought a good fight” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
What are the habits of resilient people? Individuals who practice resilience have 10 habits that help them rise from their adversities.
- Practicing Self-awareness. This practice is a powerful tool. Self-awareness will allow you to know what your weakness and strengths are. When you look at yourself and discover your limits, you can set goals in the midst of adversity.
- Developing positive self-esteem. Your adverse circumstances do not define your destiny or who you are as a person. Your identity is given to you by your Creator and when you trust the one who directs your life, you discover that your value as a person is not determined by the events or things you have achieved, but by who you are when you are connected to Jesus.
- Seeing crises as opportunities. Nothing happens in life without God allowing it to happen. The ways in which you interpret your adversities will determine the emotions you will experience. Your adversity can be seen as a calamity or as an opportunity to grow in your life.
- Practicing mindfulness, living in the here and now. The Bible says, in Matthew 6:25-34: Do not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will worry about its own things. Aim to live in the here and now. Accept what God has given you today and leave tomorrow and its concerns in God’s hands.
- Being optimistic. A child of God is optimistic because he believes in God’s power. No matter what crisis may come into your life, there will always be a glorious morning to come.
- Surrounding themselves with positive people. The people around you influence your life and your way of thinking. Choose friends who can help you grow and who can extend a helping hand when you are down. Avoid people who have a personal agenda against you.
- Managing their emotions. The Holy Spirit begins that work in you by helping you develop self-control. If your earthly parents forsake you, and didn’t teach you how to manage your emotions, Jehovah will receive you and will help you grow emotionally.
- Being flexible in the face of changes. Resilient people are flexible enough to understand the crisis in which they are immersed and adapt to adverse circumstances.
- Seeking help from others. Resilient people seek company in the midst of their pain. The natural tendency of the human mind is to withdraw when facing trauma. The brain shuts down before trauma. You must fight against yourself and not isolate yourself in the face of the crisis.
- Trusting God. Resilient people trust God, they know their destiny is in God’s hands.
The banana tree is sturdy and resilient even if it looks weak. Unbelievable as it seem, no fire or typhoon can kill it. Even if one cuts its body into a thousand pieces, it still can survive. The only way by a banana tree can be prevented from growing again is to uproot it completely. God has created you with this ability, to be resistant even in the most difficult trial. Don’t give up. Trust God.