The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness
The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity
Resilience is often talked about as something we need to build or develop; that if we could all just hone our resilience skills we would stop feeling so shit. I have issues with this, the first being that the last thing someone who feels anxious, depressed, stressed or overwhelmed needs is yet another stick to beat themselves with. ‘If only I was more resilient I would be able to deal better with this’. As though they are failing at resilience and lacking a vital life skill.
Sometimes horrible things happen to people, these things can be short or long term, minor inconveniences or traumatic life changing events. If somebody is having a hard time they need support, understanding, connection, apologies even, not yet another meaningless mental health buzzword with a side serving of victim blaming – ‘it’s your fault you feel like this, you need to be more resilient’. Or ‘you’re just not ‘tough’ enough’,
Maybe the situation needs to change, rather than you need to learn to suck it up better?
Resilience is innate. We are all born with it, nobody has more than anybody else and we do not need to ‘develop’ it or ‘build’ it. Everybody is doing the best they can in the moment whatever that may look like. Helping somebody see their strengths, their power, their abilities and their contribution will do a lot more to help them ‘recover’ than telling them they need to build resilience.
Allowing time to stop and rest, time to breathe and process, allows us to reset and step back into life in a different state of mind. A huge part of this is accepting that sometimes life is really hard and there are times when we are going to feel bloody awful, and that’s ok, it doesn’t mean we are broken.
When we stop pathologizing normal, appropriate and understandable reactions to stressful events and trauma, stop thinking we need to ‘fix’ ourselves, stop thinking we should be feeling something different, stop believing we are failing and cut ourselves some slack, we take a whole heap of pressure off and start to create space for ourselves.
And from that space we bounce back. Maybe into a different shape.
We don’t need to be more resilient, we need to be more empathetic, caring, connected and supportive. To ourselves and each other.