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In these days following the close watch and preparation for Hurricane Irene, we are now in the mode of reviewing the after effects, and are of course analyzing if we were as prepared as we could have been. 

Life is full of hurricanes, isn’t it?  Sometimes we prepare for a Category 1 but get hit with a Category 4, and look back and say “What the heck just happened?!”  Other times it goes the other way – we prepare for that Category 4, when a tropical storm breezes by, and we think, “Now what was I so worried about?!”

Managing life circumstances, whatever they are – hurricanes, relationships, grief, disease – is all about gaining resilience.  Resilience in psychology is the positive capacity of people to cope with stress and adversity.  It’s important to understand that Resilience is a process, not a trait of an individual.  (You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, okay, so what does that mean?”)  Resilience is something that we can acquire.  We can build it.  It is not something that we either have or we don’t.  And you know what??  It’s vital to our well being.  It trains us to deal with the unexpected or the unthinkable – and even the storms that we see coming from miles away.  I must say, I am thankful for this ability.  I am thankful for this tool that I can acquire and train; that can help me through the rough times that lie ahead. 

The first step to becoming resilient is acknowledging that you have that power.  You own it.  Okay, now what?  The American Psychological Association suggests “10 Ways to Build Resilience”, which are:

  1.  maintaining good relationships with close family members, friends and others;
  2. avoid seeing crises or stressful events as unbearable problems;
  3. accept circumstances that cannot be changed;
  4. develop realistic goals and move towards them;
  5. take decisive actions in adverse situations;
  6. look for opportunities of self-discovery after a struggle with loss;
  7. developing self-confidence;
  8. keep a long-term perspective and consider the stressful event in a broader context;
  9. to maintain a hopeful outlook, expecting good things and visualizing what is wished;
  10. to take care of one’s mind and bodyexercising regularly, paying attention to one’s own needs and feelings and engaging in relaxing activities that one enjoys.

Look over the list again.  Are there areas you see you can improve on?  What can you do today, that will make you more resilient for the next storm that lies ahead.


Source: Psychological Resilience.  Wikipedia.  August 2011.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_resilience

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