By David Joel Miller.
How do you get through hard times?
Some people just have the uncanny ability to come through the hardest of times and bounce back. Other people come from apparently wonderful backgrounds and still they struggle. How do those resilient people do that? Most of us can think of people who have come through really trying times and it’s easy to understand how they can struggle with their life. It takes a lot of effort to think of someone who has come from those difficult situations and still has been able to accomplish wonderful things.
Risk factors are about causes of problems.
Stress is a major risk factor. But not everyone who experiences stress ends up succumbing to problems. Early life problems can put you at risk for adult difficulties. Risk factors for mental health problems are just like risk factors for physical illness. Just because and you have your risk factor for cancer does not mean that you will get it. Having had a lot of risk factors in your past is not the whole story.
Strength or protective factors are about what causes things to go right.
Protective factors can be either internal or external. Sometimes it’s about the strength that a person finds inside themselves. Other times it is about the resources that are available to them in the environment.
One major protective factor is the presence of one caring adults in a child’s life. But an equally important protective factor is your locus of control. Are you mainly taking in the opinions of others? Or do you have the personal strength to do what you believe you should do and want to do. Highly resilient people believe that what they do matters. They believe that their results are based on their own efforts. They think of themselves as capable and not victims.
Resilient people have the belief that what they do affects the outcome.
There’s a thing called learned helplessness in which people have been told or felt that they couldn’t do things so many times they give up trying. Resilient people develop the belief that what they do matters that if they try hard enough they can do things.
Resiliency like willpower is a finite resource.
Resiliency is not infinite. It’s hard to measure just how many times someone can be knocked down and still be able to get back that. People seem to be able to get back up from one severe problem, but if that same person is knocked down repeatedly it becomes more difficult each time to get back up.
Resiliency is not something you’re just born with.
Resiliency is a skill that develops over time. Having small life problems and learning how to successfully get past them helps to build resilience. Having good life skills makes you more resilient.
Some people become more resilient as they grow older.
People who had little resiliency when they were children often learn and become more resilient as they grow older. Learn all you can about resiliency and make it a point to learn from each setback or failure you encounter.
Not every difficulty needs to be traumatic.
Not every physically strenuous activity results in injury. Many emotional events can be growth opportunities rather than causes of traumatic conditions. People with more resources, emotional skills, support systems or financial resources may be a better position to deal with life’s up’s and downs.
Not every bad event is cause by you. Attribution.
Resilient people do not attribute every difficulty in life to a personal failing. Be careful of your attributions. Not everything that happens is about you. Sometimes you can be the best person on earth and still bad things can happen to you.
Rumination can reduce resiliency.
Rumination, that common human characteristic of turning life’s difficulties over and over in your mind, increases the risk that you will become anxious or depressed. Having an emotional problem such as anxiety or depression lower your ability to cope with other difficulties.
Take another look at where you are in life. Look for ways that you may be able to increase your resilience.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books