A term inherited from physics, resilience refers to a material’s ability to resist shock and to retain its initial structure. When applied to the field of human psychology (by authors such as Boris Cyrulnik), it refers to some individuals’ capacity to overcome a painful or difficult experience and to bounce back, sometimes accompanied by a change of perspective. This skill, which is very useful in a time of crisis, is often considered as an innate ability. This is incorrect, as in reality a person’s capacity for resistance can be cultivated and developed! Here are a few ideas to be used during this time of crisis.
Express your emotions
It’s generally said that a person is resilient when, faced with a difficult period in their lives, they eventually succeed in transforming and reinventing themselves at the end of a process which could be either lengthy or otherwise. Resilience is therefore first and foremost a person’s capacity to transform themselves and adapt when faced with adversity.
Take note though, that being resilient does not mean simply denying that the difficulties exist. A total lack of emotion when facing traumatic events can be associated with a denial of the event, something which could be an obstacle to any form of adaptation to the situation. In reality, the resilience process means expressing your negative emotions initially. Indeed, this may even be the only way to begin the reconstruction process. So, don’t be concerned if you have felt sadness or fear since the start of the crisis. Rather than keeping it all in, it’s best to talk to those around you, or even to a health professional! Naturally, this requires some self-effort and self-analysis, to be able to express your emotions, to understand them and to discuss your experiences. But the results are worth it: once we’ve unloaded our negative emotions, we’re ready to turn things around and to begin the rebuilding process!
Learn to look to the future
Although some aspects of resilience can’t be improved through training and analysis, (particularly those concerning an individual’s physiological characteristics and construction), a number of exercises nevertheless make it possible to develop the facility of adaptation, which can be important during traumatic events. The main aspect of this work is to be forward-looking and to plan for the future! Not just any future though: a future which is not dominated by the difficulties you’re currently experiencing, but a future in which these difficulties have been replaced by a more peaceful life. Despite all the thoughts swirling around in our heads when difficulties arise, it’s important to remind yourself that all of this will come to pass!
Because resilience comes from transforming emotions into strength, by training yourself to look to the future, you’ll improve your capacity to face adversity. In an interview with the WeChamp agency, the sportsman Cyril Moré, a 7-time medal winner in fencing at the Paralympics, told them: “when I was hospitalised after my fall, I had no control over my mobility. I couldn’t move around much, and I couldn’t even tell you how long this lasted, much like during the lockdown. I attached great importance to looking to the future, which enabled me to remain open, dynamic and motivated on a day-to-day basis”. A valuable lesson in bravery!
Reasoning and creating meaning!
As well as expressing our emotions and our capacity to look to the future, the essence of resilience lies in our capacity to make sense of things, and to create meaning from the difficulties we encounter. The more we manage to understand what’s happening to us in a logical manner, the more that difficult events lose their emotional sting and are seen as ordinary and inevitable. Easier said than done? A number of handy tips can help facilitate this reasoning process:
● Communicating with people who have experienced something similar helps you to have a more objective view of the situation and to put your own difficulties in perspective
● Learning as much as possible about what’s happening to us also helps us to understand our difficulties better. Be sure to check your sources though, as incorrect information can sometimes cause more harm than good!
● When your difficulties are such that they seem to defy all logic, resilience then expresses itself through an ability to accept your difficulties, giving you the strength to bounce back!
To sum up, resilience is a capacity that we can all develop, enabling us to face our difficulties and to reinvent ourselves in times of adversity. In doing so, expressing your emotions, looking to the future and creating meaning are your best allies!
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