Throughout our lives we are confronted with several adverse situations. These may include illnesses, bad exam results, accidents, natural disasters, frustrations, separation/divorce, culture shock and etc. Experiencing such negative environmental adversities may have severe physical, emotional and social influences on an individual. One may be feeling sad, angry, frustrated and helpless or in pain. Eventually the individual will realize that life must go on in spite of these events. Over a period of time the individual begins to readjust to the new situations in her/his life.
Why are some people able to go through this adjustment period successfully while others fail to do so? Why do such individual differences exist? Individuals who are psychologically resilient are able to cope with the difficulties of life. However, those lacking in resiliency will resign and/or surrender. It is possible to strengthen your resiliency.
Factors Preventing Psychological Resilience
- In some circumstances the social conditions do not give youngsters the opportunity to “mature”. Instead, they are treated as children in need of protection, unable to take on responsibilities, and furthermore, incompetent. Research suggests that individuals, who are not given the opportunity to mature, behave in a child-like manner.
- Modern societies endorse extreme viewpoints such as black/white, good/bad, beautiful/ugly, stupid/clever, hence not giving room for change. The opposite of success is inevitably failure and this perspective goes unchallenged.
- Success, right NOW! A common misperception is that success, prestige and wealth should be readily obtainable attributes. Such a mentality can prevent one from exerting extra effort and trying harder. When expectations are not easily or momentarily met, this may be perceived as failure, causing the individual to give up.
- Parents are often quite possessive of their children and try to protect them from life’s difficulties. This prevents youngsters from learning to confront and effectively cope with these difficulties.
- In order for their children not to feel sadness, anger, frustration, disappointment, embarrassment or guilt, parents often protectively prevent their children from experiencing any of these negative emotions. However, experiencing such emotions from time to time will make youngsters more resilient and less vulnerable.
- The media often presents images of perfection in individuals. The perfection represented is often unobtainable and it creates a sense of incompetence and failure in youngsters.
These are factors that prevent a youngster from being psychologically resilient. Sometimes you may need to get professional help when you face challenging situations.
Building Psychological Resilience
- Have high expectations. You have enough experience to obtain the realistic expectations you set for yourself. Work hard towards achieving your goals.
- You may be at the center of your parents’ world; however you are not at the center of the real world. Accept this fact and pay attention to the outside world. Offer help and assistance to others, this will increase your self-esteem.
- Everyone has certain inborn characteristics. Intelligence and personality traits can be improved. Several important personalities overcame challenges; improved themselves and achieved self-fulfillment.
- Failure is not the end of the world. Everyone is bound to fail at some point in their lives. What matters is that you do not surrender to the failure and continue to strive. Failure is often the motivating force on the road to success.
- Just as happiness, love and satisfaction are natural feelings, so are anger, disappointment, and sadness. Experiencing these emotions is part of being a human being. None will endure; they will occasionally come and go.
- Life is full of ups and downs. Do not try to avoid facing your problems. Identify the problem, define it, think of alternative solutions and choose the most suitable one for you. If that solution fails to work, there are other options. Don’t forget there is no such thing as “perfect”. Your philosophy should be doing the best you can, not being the best.
- Try to enhance your experiences and learn new things through extracurricular activities at the university setting, at home and beside your lectures. Be open to new information and skills and improve yourself.