Why do I like resilience so much? Because there is something so honest and intrinsic about it. It just makes sense. People talk about resilience in every culture and every language. As I said many of your favourite films and songs are probably about resilience. Everybody is resilient, its just that sometimes we don’t feel it, or sometimes we just need a little bit of time to get it back! You seem to have fallen into a hole that you can’t climb out of, but you still want to be able to reach up and find a helping hand to pull you out.
The good news is that resilience can be rediscovered and constructed. Resilient people learn to live for a while in the darkness, while developing the necessary coping skills to adapt to their circumstances and find a “new normal”. They learn to be self compassionate, kind and non- judgmental with themselves as they go through their crisis. Some will even find a deeper purpose and meaning in life.
The concept of resilience is easy to understand but hard to define. Just like love and stress it depends on the context, the person you are talking to and how much time you have to talk about it. Having studied and worked in psychology for over 20 years, I truly believe that focussing on your resilience is what we all need to do for ourselves, our partners, our families, our communities and our world. I can help you build that resilience when you really need it.
Have trouble getting by when the going gets tough? Everyone wants to perform well when the pressure’s on, but a lot of us withdraw in times of stress or adversity. If you can build your resilience, you’ll have an easier time facing new challenges and how to bounce back from difficult situations, by building your “resiliency threshold.” We can work out your own strategies to keep your life moving forward even when you feel completely overwhelmed.
Look at the resilience mandala below and see how resilience builds over your life, also look at how important sense of humour and creativity are in the model. Resilience work is different, we look at the world in a positive way.
Adolescents and parents
In the last few years I have been working with adolescents more and more. Inspired by the work done by Boing Boing in UK and also Addima in Spain. I include some models of therapy here. Adolescence now spans from 10 to 24 and I believe it has never been harder for young people, we need to support them and work with them in a positive way to help them to build that resilience. Usually adolescents do not want to be sent to a psychologist, they do not want to be made to feel there is something wrong with them but they definitley need support when the going gets tough. I have a good connection with young people and often can get them to open up, but working with resilience means we are teaching them about their own resilience and the resilience around them that is a resource.
Parents never get much support and are often the ones who need it most. I often work along side parents helping them get their family back on track and coaching them to be able to do that. Parents need to be listened to and supported too and often only receive criticism.
There are no perfect families
If you were under the impression that as a parent your job was all about creating a perfect family, stop right there. We can sometimes play happy families, just look at facebook! But what you really want is a resilient family.
We all know a family that seems perfect, maybe we try to model them or copy them, maybe we even compare our children to their children. Do you remember those children when you were growing up? I do, and none of them ended up being superheroes because superheroes don’t exist and neither do perfect families.
Parents today always feel criticised. We are never doing enough. We have too much advice and pressure, too many decisions to make about schools, languages, and how we manage their free time, technology, bullying, healthy diet and image, or whether they are mindful enough?? The list is endless, when do we get to have fun?
Resilience allows you to see the best in your child and yourself. Focus on the good things as much as you can, and think about what you enjoy doing with your child, not what other people tell you. Realise that everything is a phase and won’t last forever and learn and move forward with your child, probably you can remember that happening already. Also learning how to laugh with your children is the best tonic in any family, and reminds you of why you wanted a family in the first place!
If you need a bit of extra help to get you through a tough time, please get in touch and we can work it out together. There are many ways to help your child and primarily you are the one to do that. Schools, teachers and psychologists should be there to support you so that you can give your best to your child.
Here in Barcelona Jorge Barudy is one of the leading international figures in resilience and families; his work has been an inspiration and guiding tool in my work and with my own family. If you read Spanish, I highly recommend his books or you can read his work online.
There has been a lot of amazing work done in the UK and Australia recently where resilience and children’s mental health are being taken seriously in families and schools. The ‘modern’ world has delivered some statistics that we need to address. Unfortunately here in Barcelona I have not come across one school that has a resilience program but I am working on it, and would love my own children to be able to attend a school where resilience was part of the curriculum.
John Oates writing about resilience and families in the UK, ¨The concept of resilience has an important part to play in the discourse of parenting support. Resilience is central to an individual’s capacity to thrive, whatever the circumstances. Resilience is linked to two key factors: the quality of the relationship between parents and children and supportive community networks. Thus resilience is not a fixed quality, dependent solely on the cards that have been dealt to one. ‘Genetic advantages are useful but as social beings in the modern world our greatest advantage is to be able to know our own minds and those of others, and therefore to stand up for something or someone …’ (Kraemer, 1998). Resilience is fostered by parents and family, but also by school and community. ¨
As an expert in resilience, I believe these unprecedented changes have had a significant and adverse impact on the mental health of many people.
And there is no end in sight. If ever a moment called for understanding the concept of resilience, this is it.
Resilience is the ability to adapt to adversity or a stressful life event. Research on resilience has a rich history, dating back to the 1950s; those studies focused on children growing up in high-risk environments. More contemporary research looks at how we adapt to traumatic events like cancer, natural disasters, loss of close family members and most of all a whole lot of uncertainty.
Resilience can be learned
While some researchers suggest resilience is “trait-like” – that is, hard-wired into one’s personality – others say it can be learned and acquired later in life. Some even say adversity brings potential benefits. “There is nothing better than adversity,” said the activist Malcolm X. “Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve the next time.”