The Power of Resilience

Even though it has been almost eight years since my cancer diagnosis, I speak a lot about my journey. Why! 1) My experience with cancer has made me who I am today. 2) It is my desire to give back and help others, and 3) I have realized that many people relate to my story. Not because of cancer, however. They relate to my story because they relate to the journey itself, and the immense amount of strength and resilience one can gain as a result of trekking through difficult situations in one’s life.

Resilience is a person’s capacity to manage stress and cope with crisis and adversity. Resilience is a healthy adjustment to a setback. Resilience is rebounding more quickly and harnessing one’s own inner strength. Resilience is personal growth, and it is powerful stuff!

George Bonanno, professor of Clinical Psychology from Columbus University says when someone is hit with loss or trauma as a result of relationship issues, health problems, or workplace and financial worries, for example, it is resilience that gets them back on track.

Not surprisingly, resilient people tend to be more flexible, view set-backs as temporary, practice being grateful, seek support from others and take care of themselves. If one lacks resilience, however, they may tend to feel like a victim, become overwhelmed easily, and dwell in the negative, sometimes even choosing unhealthy and self-sabotaging behaviors such as substance abuse, overeating, or other avoidant mechanisms and distractions.

If you feel that resilience is not your strong suit, no worries, you are not doomed. Bouncing back is a process, not a character trait. In other words, resilience is learned. Unfortunately, learning to be resilient requires a few blows. But as you learn to roll with the punches that life delivers, you in turn get stronger. So the idiom, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” is not so far from the truth.


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