Resiliency is a popular buzzword today and is used in everyday conversations. "She was so resilient this past school year", "He was so resilient getting past his injury last year", or "That family was so resilient during COVID".
What does the word 'resilient' actually mean? The dictionary definition is the ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult situations. Being resilient doesn't protect people from stress, emotional strain, or suffering. It does strengthen the ability to work through these situations and come out the other end in a better position. On the other end of the spectrum, not being resilient often leaves one overwhelmed and lean on unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Resilience isn't a genetic trait so everyone born is at a zero. Building resilience begins when you begin crawling as a baby. Your take risks and, ideally, crawl back to your caregiver when you feel unsafe. That resiliency grows as a child goes to school, participates in extracurriculars, and engages in more social situations. These skills develop as one goes through life and is faced with difficult, but safe circumstances. These include taking a test, giving a speech, or starting a new job. Each opportunity is a deposit into your bank of resiliency. If these activities aren't available, the ability to develop resiliency creates a significant barrier.
According to the APA, there are three keys to building strong coping strategies. One is a person's worldview - is a a safe place with caring people or is it a dangerous place with untrusting people? Another key to developing resiliency is a strong support system that is available and of high quality. Developing and using healthy coping strategies during times of high stress is helpful in being resilient. Other important factors in developing resiliency are self-esteem, communication skills, and emotional regulation.
Life is not all rainbows and butterflies and adversity will challenge people in all facets of life. How we cope and manage those situations will vary on our resilience and ability to use healthy coping skills, self-regulation, and utilize health support people in our life.