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The Resiliency Factors: How to Bounce Back from Adversity

Ever wish you could get over a tragedy, bounce back and get on with your life? Resiliency is the ability to get through, get over, get past, and thrive after a trauma, tragedy, or tribulation.

A person who is resilient is able to withstand a challenge, survive it, and come out triumphant. This person can manage to create a happy and successful life, despite the adversity.

Companies and schools are favoring resilience training over self-esteem programs. The return on the investment is encouraging as employees return to work sooner, are more productive on the job, and have less sick leave.

So how is it possible for people to bounce back? What can a person do now to build the skills that will be needed in the future?

After a paralyzing spinal cord injury, my life, at first seemed to be altered to the extent that I would never find happiness and success again. But gradually, I started to regain function and get stronger.

I have learned from experience that there are many factors that affected my ability to be resilient. Most critical was the strength and scope of my relationships with others. I felt so connected to my husband, friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, and people in the community. Even total strangers reached out to me to give their support and encouraged me to keep trying hard to get my life back.

As I look at my personal wealth, I do not only look at my net worth in terms of real estate, possessions, cash, stocks, and bonds. I look at, and value, the many friends and family members that are my allies, cheerleaders, confidants, morale builders and coaches. People are more treasured than possessions.

You need to take inventory of the quantity and quality of the relationships in your life. Determine if they are strong enough to sustain you in your effort to come back after a tragedy. People who care deeply for you will be there when an adversity hits to lovingly support you as you recover.

Another factor in my resiliency was my curiosity to learn how to do new things everyday. I tried to learn new ways to do things that I previously could do without even thinking. I had to learn how to get out of the wheelchair and into bed, drive a car with hand controls, and dress in the wheelchair. My curiosity and tenacity to learn anew was a key factor in my success.

A third factor was the ability to solve problems. As I faced problems, I thought about the difficulty the situation created. Many times, my inabilities to perform were due to my limited physical strength and flexibility. I had to figure out a different approach to solve the problem at hand. For example, since I couldn't stand due to my disability, sometimes I needed an adapted device, a reacher, in order to get items from high places.
A deeply rooted factor in resiliency is the motivation to perform. To what extent are you motivated to move forward, make progress and pursue your goals? At times, I was limiting myself due to a lack of motivation rather than a lack of skill. I kept thinking to myself, "If my life depended on doing this, could I accomplish this task?" If my answer was "Yes, I could do this task.", then I realized that I simply wasn't trying hard enough, didn't want it bad enough, or wasn't pushing myself enough.

Like a rubber ball, we each have within us the ability to bounce back when tragedy strikes. The ingredients we need to bounce quicker and higher are: strength and scope of relationships with people; curiosity to learn; ability to solve problems; and motivation to perform. Gathering these ingredients takes time, practice and commitment.

Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. would like to read your comments about her column and the impact it has made on your life. She also encourages your ideas for future columns. Contact her at: , or 1008 Eastchester Dr., Columbus, OH 43230-6230.

To book Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. to speak at a conference, contact her at: (614) 471-6100;


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