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The Strength of Resilience

Bounce Back From Serious Adversity

By Sharon S. Esonis, Ph.D.
Date: 02/21/2013

"Mishaps are like knives that either serve us or cut us as we grasp them by the blade or the handle."
James Russell Lowell

Resilience is a superlative strength of power and mastery; in fact, itís a melding of the other core strengths: Courage, Optimism, Persistence, Enthusiasm and Living in the Present. The synergy of these strengths can provide you with mighty tools to prevail, even thrive, when youíve been subjected to whatever life sends your way. And life often sends along some pretty tough stuff that can be overwhelming, grueling and sometimes downright tragic.

Turning troubles into growth, bouncing back from tragedy, trauma and failure, believing that lifeís major difficulties are surmountable and that the future holds the promise of sunshine, renewal and opportunity are the distinguishing characteristics of Resilience. As a resilient individual, you will have the wherewithal to fight back and win when the going gets tough. And by facing the black clouds, youíll have the opportunity to become a deeper, more confident and accomplished person.

The first step toward managing serious adversity is to understand and accept three important beliefs: one, bad things happen to everyone and very bad things happen to many people; two, we often have little or no control over the occurrence of traumatic events and serious problems; and three, we have a choice about how we perceive, react to and utilize these events. The next step is to focus on the cognitions and behaviors that constitute the other five strengths.

Courage. For most of us, when we face serious difficulty, we temporarily lose confidence in our perception of how the world works and how much power we have in that world. Helpless, defeated and frightened even if only momentarily, we need Courage to get back up and face what scares us, face what has caused the disruption and its fallout. Itís a time that often requires bold decisions and a firm commitment to taking risks, a time to embrace the gifts we do have, a time to resume the pursuit of dreams in order to regain equilibrium.

Persistence. To rise out of difficulty takes time, patience, endurance and tenacity. Persistence reinforces Resilience through certain beliefs that strengthen a personís steadfastness in tough times. In subscribing to the importance of Persistence, one understands the road is often plagued by detours and that progress takes time; one eschews the victim mentality, sees mistakes and failures as room to grow, and views change as an integral part of life thatís to be embraced rather than avoided.

Optimism. When your world is disrupted and shaken by adverse events, it can be extremely difficult to believe that the future will be better. But thatís just what the resilient person has learned to do. To be resilient, you must be an optimist who is confident that there is hope and renewal in the days to come and that this period of being under a very dark cloud is not personal, permanent or pervasive.

Living in the Present. When major disruptions occur in life, people often play over and over the thoughts and images connected to the untoward events; these thoughts and images can serve to maintain the frightened feelings that were evoked by the difficulty. Or some people imagine what terrible things might happen in the future because of their compromised state and significant losses. Living in the Present is a powerful strength in the healing process, offering uplifting, reenergizing experiences that compete with past pain or future dread.

Enthusiasm. If you infuse your life with vitality and learn how to become deeply and lovingly involved in personally rewarding endeavors, then you have provided yourself with robust reinforcements that can stem an unwanted emotional tide. With Enthusiasm, your learning repertoire will include compelling thoughts, images and activities that are powerful components of your world. Theyíre helpful tools that can calm you during a disruption and its aftermath. Having positive activities will help you disengage, at least some of the time, from the triggers that evoke feelings of powerlessness.

If youíd like more in-depth information on ways to build and maintain Resilience in your life, Click Here.

If youíd like to discover your own Positive Path, one that can lead to a life of fulfillment and ultimate personal power, contact Sharon Esonis at (760) 221-8032, or send an email to