Do you have the capacity to weather emotional storms â€“ even hurricanes â€“ without toppling? Thanks to the nature of resilience, most people won't really know how resilient they are until life tests their mettle. However, the following personal qualities tend to be hallmarks of resilience.
- Physical and emotional independence. Does your dad still do your income tax? Do you call your sister for reassurance every time you have a squabble with your teen? Such dependencies may indicate low resilience.
- The initiative to make things happen. Chronic procrastination or staying stuck in an unhappy marriage or dead-end job suggest fear of change.
- The ability to learn from experience and apply that knowledge to new situations. This capacity indicates both flexibility â€“ to absorb new information and change your stance or approach accordingly â€“ and confidence in your ability to influence events and circumstances.
- A creative approach to life and the capacity to see opportunity in crisis. Resilient people tend to have good problem-solving skills, which kick in when the unexpected occurs. A child who comes down with flu on the morning of a big client presentation, a missed flight, an unanticipated household expense â€“ the resilient person takes such crises in stride because she knows she can create solutions or even turn the curveball to her advantage.
- The ability to laugh at yourself and the world. It's difficult to be frantic, devastated or furious and amused at the same time. Just as a resilient person sees opportunities in crises, so also she sees the humour â€“ another indication of flexibility, the capacity to look beyond the present and the ability to roll with the punches.
- Moral courage, even in the face of disapproval. Being the only one in a crowd to take an unpopular stance requires resilience, which gives you the confidence that you can handle the fallout and the assurance that whatever happens will ultimately be for the best.
Prepared in consultation with Shirley Vandersteen, clinical psychologist and past president of the Psychologists' Association of Alberta.