Do you ever feel completely derailed by a rough day, week, or year? When life fills our path with challenges that we don’t feel equipped to handle, we often feel like our only choices are to give up, or to soldier on and become bitter and jaded in the process.
Some people, however, have an ability to recover more quickly and thoroughly from the setbacks of life.
While traumatic events push many of us to the brink of despair, resilient people cope with those same occurrences in ways that inspire and confound the rest of us.
Is resilience particularly significant to multipotentialites? There are many reasons we might want to develop our capacity for it:
- Pursuing more projects means we’re more likely to face failure.
- Self-doubt left over from past ordeals can make us less likely to take the necessary risks to follow our dreams.
- Recovering more quickly from difficulties in our personal lives will give us more time and energy to focus on our passions.
It’s easy to imagine that resilience is an innate quality seeded in select, lucky individuals in infancy and childhood. It’s true that early experiences generate contributing factors, but the science of resilience has important lessons for everyone.
In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, researcher Brené Brown notes five of the most common attributes of resilient people:
- Higher likelihood of seeking help than others
- A belief that they can do something to manage their feelings
- Access to social support
- Connection with others
These qualities are far more specific than the generic advice we frequently get in hard times, which often boils down to “be positive.” Cultivating these conditions and practices in our lives can increase our buoyancy in difficult times.
Did you notice anything about the listed qualities? More than half—three out of five—aren’t about solitary actions at all. They are rooted in community.
Asking for help, seeking support, and making deep connections often fall to the bottom of our list of priorities when we are under stress, but these times are when it’s most important to reach out.
We all face varying levels of isolation, as discrete individuals who cannot fully share any other person’s experience. And often, when we find ourselves in the midst of stress and upheaval, we tend to isolate even more: Who would want to share in my misery? Shouldn’t I handle my own problems? Everyone else has their own issues; I don’t want to burden them.
One of the greatest benefits I discovered when I joined the Puttytribe was the unconditional support, compassion, and kindness of the community. When a joint project with a colleague was pushing me to my wit’s end, the other puttypeep were there to calm me down and offer me tools to get through the week. When a freelance job was so boring it couldn’t hold my attention, others who had been through the same thing offered suggestions and solidarity.
These resources don’t automatically make themselves available, though. It isn’t enough to merely seek out a community; the follow-through is essential. We aren’t used to asking for help. But some suggest that the best way to make a friend is to ask someone for a favor. Building connections, then, is the natural result of letting our networks into our actual lives—especially the uncomfortable parts.
Resilient people don’t just “bounce back” from trauma. They grow, while negotiating their vulnerability and uncertainty with each step.
They don’t go back to who they have been before. Instead of being defined by the challenges they face or the shortcomings they discover within themselves, they find meaning in their strengths—and in the knowledge that they are not alone.
What strategies do you have for dealing with difficult times? Is asking for help difficult for you?