Resilience is a term that’s come into really popular discussion over the last 5 to 10 years. A lot of schools, for example, are very focused on how they improve the resilience of the children who attend those schools.
How does one improve their resilience?
I think that implies that starting with young people as early as possible, teaching them to be resilient, encouraging them not to fret or worry excessively about things that are fundamentally minor, giving them coping skills to cope with adversity is part of the way in which one starts to deal with adversity and the corollary of course is acquiring resilience.
In adults, resilience takes on a whole different connotation. And those people who tend to be able to cope with adversity, i.e. be more resilient, have a number of particular characteristics.
The first is they objectively look at the situation that they are encountering. They look at it to a degree, rationally and analytically and determine what is the degree of risk that they’re likely to encounter as a consequence of this situation.
Secondly having done that, they share that situation with others where they can, or if they’re not quite sure of the degree of adversity this situation delivers, they then look at how they can acquire a more objective perspective. And then finally, those individuals who cope best or who are most resilient have a plan. They develop an action plan, they think about how they’re going to deal with the situation that they’re confronting.
And then if that plan doesn’t work, they tend to have plan B or plan C or plan D so that there’s always a way they’re endeavouring to get out of a challenging situation. So my encouragement to those of you who are in difficult situations where there is adversity to think about how you’re gonna get out of that adverse situation and work either individually or with friends or indeed if you have a psychologist that you see about developing a plan that will help you to cope with that situation.
Dr Matthew Cullen, Psychiatrist, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney