Resilience, what really is it?

The oxford dictionary describes resilience as being able to recover quickly after something unpleasant such as shock, injury etc, or

the ability of a substance to return to its original shape after it has been bent, stretched or pressed.

So how do we develop resilience, are we born with it and it develops with maturity, is it learnt behaviours, is it developed through our struggles or is it a matter of being supported during our struggles? Can it become weaker or stronger?

My Personal Experience

Going back a little while I remember having a discussion with a fellow employee at one of the schools I worked at about resilience.

The teacher had been quite stern and punished one of the students for not having the correct uniform. Unfortunately for this particular student their home life was well known to the staff to be surrounded by neglect, drug abuse and poverty.

My question was why can’t we have spare uniforms for the student to change into when they arrive at school? The answer was this punishment will build resilience, I actually thought it bordered on bullying.

Now this didn’t quite sit right with me and really never has. As my own experience of growing or gaining resilience was not from the actual hard knocks, or people making it even harder for me when we all knew the odds were already stacked up against me. In all honesty with my kind of personality I probably would’ve rolled-over and accepted defeat if this was the case. The times that my resileince actually started to build was when I felt supported by the people around me.

When I felt the support it was like fuel to keep me going, even though I was experiencing knock back after knock back. What I found though was the more confident I became the more resilient I also became.

So obviously confidence and resilience go hand in hand, I guess you can’t have one without the other.

So how do we expect people with low or no confidence to bounce back form knocks if we are not being supportive and use the crutch of ‘they need to be more resilient’. And do people really think it is up to them to build someone’s resilience by creating deliberate circumstances that make life harder.

Resilience Has More To do With Who Is Around Us, Rather Than What Is Within Us.

Our resilience comes from surrounding ourselves with healthy relationships, relationships that are supportive, and that build confidence with in ourselves. Knowing when and who to ask for help actually builds resileince and not dependence as some people fear. It takes an amazing amount of confidence to ask for help, especially when you are being knocked around by life.

It is a great idea to keep a journal and look back at how far you have come, celebrate even the small wins. I am at most resilient now and I know that this is due to the people I have been and are surrounded by.

So when you see someone who has been bent, stretched, and pressed out of shape, help them to return to their original shape by offering support. Your support will blossom into resilience which will bear the fruits of confidence. What an amazing gift that just keeps giving.


SANE Australia (people living with a mental illness) — call 1800 18 7263

Beyond Blue (anyone feeling depressed or anxious) — call 1300 22 4636 or chat online

Black Dog Institute (people affected by mood disorders) — online help

Lifeline (anyone having a personal crisis) — call 13 11 14 or chat online

Suicide Call Back Service (anyone thinking about suicide) — call 1300 659 467

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s