We’ve heard it over and over again in the past year. “
We are resilient” “We are becoming more resilient during COVID” “COVID is teaching us how to be more resilient”. But what exactly does that mean, and how do we know if we are resilient, if we have become stronger during this pandemic, and how do we know if our kids and ourselves are coming out of this more resilient than ever? Do we develop resiliency? Are we born with it?
Resilience isn't a skill that one inherits or “just is”. It is a skill that is to be built and developed over time and with practice. How we “bounce back” from adversity either personally or professionally is dependent on many factors but especially our mindset. While our minds may be prone to a negativity bias, the mind can also be shown new ways to respond by being very conscious about how far they have come, what an individual has already overcome, what we have learned from a challenge and our ability to “look for the good” in each new challenge or adversity we face. The past year has given us a lot to reflect on and many of us have been through tremendous hardships and struggles. Yet, here we are. Moving forward. In spite of the setbacks, if you are reading this after the year we just had, you are resilient.
Building resilience skills isn't a task that needs to be explored alone. Resiliency and “bouncing back” is one of the main focuses and goals of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. A good therapist will help you challenge your negative biased beliefs and help discover the connections to feelings and behaviors which is a vital step to developing your resiliency.
Martin Seigelman, one of the top researchers in the psychology field (nicknamed “the father of positive psychology”) developed the “Three P’s” of resilience to understand how we react to the negative events in our lives - Permanence, Pervasiveness and Personalization.
This is the belief that whatever is happening isn’t personal. It isn’t just happening to you. And knowing that many others have been through it. Not taking setbacks personally allows us to recover and bounce back. COVID is affecting all of us. ALL of us are experiencing loss and disappointment due to COVID.
This is the belief that a negative event will be all- consuming and affect every aspect of your life. While something may be a setback, there is also plenty of good going on in our lives. COVID has been tough but it has brought some good things with it - increased time with family, a simpler life without commutes and running around, less distractions, working from home, new traditions and routines, etc.
This is the mindset that our current circumstances will not last forever. But we must remember that whatever is happening it isn’t permanent. This will change, this will pass. Nothing is permanent in life. COVID will end. This winter will end. This uncomfortable feeling I have will pass. We must recognize our feelings and know that circumstance won’t last forever.
Studies have shown that children and adults can recover more quickly when they realize: that hardships aren’t always their fault, will not affect every aspect of their life, and won’t last forever and ever. If we follow the Three Ps we may be less likely to get anxious, depressed or relapse. It allows us to be better equipped to handle whatever comes our way. It allows us to be resilient. And when we are resilient, we will not only endure, but we will thrive.