Resilience: The ability to bend with the wind without breaking

(L-R) Jacob Brown and Rafael Encarnacion laugh and eat outside of CK2. Monday, November, 1, 2021. (Photo Illustration by: Xander Ordinola)
(L-R) Jacob Brown and Rafael Encarnacion laugh and eat outside of CK2. Monday, November, 1, 2021. (Photo Illustration by: Xander Ordinola)

Written by: Tami Navalon

Many have been comforted by the phrase, “This too shall pass,” as it serves as a reminder that our discomfort and distress will pass as all moments, difficult or easy, eventually do. Many right now may be waiting for this semester, the time-consuming course, relationship distress or financial strain to pass. However, how you adapt and respond to these times of adversity and uncertainty may predict your overall wellness and life satisfaction.

Young adults experience significant life transitions and face unexpected adversities. Students make decisions about careers, relationships, family, identity, values and other factors that have lifelong effects during this stage of their lives. 

The initial transition from high school to college often brings significant distress as students adjust to the rigors of college, leave home and begin to live more independently. Students finishing college, transitioning to a career and developing a family can also experience significant stress through this challenging process of change.

Research conducted in 2016 by Allison Crowe and colleagues indicated resilience as a significant predictor of one’s ability to adapt to change, cope with stressful situations, respond to adversity and seek help when needed. 

The American Psychological Association describes resilience as the ability to bounce back, experience profound personal growth from adversity and maintain a positive outlook on the future. Current research conducted in 2018 by So Rin Kim and Sang Min Lee also indicates that resilient college students are more likely to have greater job satisfaction and career success once they transition from school to work. 

Resilient individuals are characterized as being optimistic and hopeful, experiencing high levels of positive emotions, having strong support systems, being involved in their communities and being physically active. Some may assume resilience is something you have or don’t have. But did you know it can be fostered and developed? 

So how do we become more resilient? 

Research conducted in 2011 by Allison Troy and Iris Maus identified adaptive factors that build resilience. One of those factors is cognitive-emotional regulation. 

Cognitive-emotional regulation is the conscious decision to change one’s appraisal of a situation by not attending to the negative stimuli but maintaining positive emotion and optimistic focus. This means refraining from blaming self and others, ruminating or catastrophizing. Instead, choose to refocus on acceptance of ‘what is,’ re-plan, make a positive reappraisal and put the situation into perspective. By engaging in cognitive-emotional regulation, we can grow from adversity by improving self-empowerment and self-efficacy and learning to take care of ourselves. 

Another factor that helps foster resilience is connecting with others. However,  since the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals have experienced significant isolation and inability to connect in meaningful ways. 

Research conducted in 2021 by Amelia Burke-Garcia and colleagues explored how people have remained resilient. Themes they identified include intentionality on developing greater community cohesion, mobilizing resources and efforts to help others, connecting with faith-based communities and asking for help and support when needed. The same research also highlighted how those who had previously coped with and learned from adversity were more able to remain resilient through the pandemic, support others and foster resilience. 

God fosters our resilience and desires us to grow and remain optimistic through adversity. In Romans 8:28, He reminds us, “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him.” (NIV) 

When we reflect on our current adversity, can we instead refocus and ask ourselves, “How can I learn and grow through this? Can I fall on His promise that all things work for good? Can I choose positive emotions and remain optimistic?” 

Through these steps, we build resilience and the ability to adapt and cope with whatever may pass.

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