What is resilience? Why do we need to be resilient? To be resilient means to be able to weather ups and downs, to be able to adapt to new situations, and to be emotionally, physically, and mentally adaptable. The field of human development has found that older adults who are resilient, are better able to deal with the changes aging brings at each stage (Lavretsky, 2014).
Erik Erikson explains about the psycho-social stages of development and the importance of being able to progress from stage to stage through one’s life (Dunn & Craig, 2012). Starting at a young age, parents’ can help support their child’s independence. The flexibility that is lacking in some people can impede on their ability to accept challenges. Resilient behavior can be taught. Encouraging people to go outside their comfort zone is one tip for building a more resilient life. Of course starting in childhood is always best because it becomes a life-long habit, but realizing you are not easily adaptable does not mean you cannot start accepting certain changes or experiences that may be considered complicated.
Certain religious and cultural beliefs discuss how important it is to “go with the flow.” How do you rewire yourself if you are normally one who inherently goes against the grain or fights change? Much like being physically inflexible, you have the ability to stretch and gain flexibility. A person can allow certain experiences to happen and accept them or they can fight them. Self-awareness is the start to building personal resilience. Knowing what makes you uncomfortable and allowing yourself to be uncomfortable is the beginning. Eventually, you start seeing things come and go and realize it is okay. For example, hitting the age of 50, some people go through a midlife crisis. 50 can be seen in many different ways. It could mean financial security if you had a career for the past 30 years. It could mean stability in your relationships. It could mean seeing your children growing up. It doesn’t have to be just about the changes that naturally occur; such as wrinkles, gray hair, weight gain, being less noticed in society. You choose to view your life from the perspective you follow. Being resilient is accepting what is given to you and moving on.
Dunn, W., & Craig, G. (2012). Understanding human development, ed. 3. Pearson Publishing: New York.
Lavrestky, H. (2014). Resilience and aging: From conceptual understandings to opportunities for enhancement. The Gerontologist Vol.55, no.4.