CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's just an ordinary day -- and then a crisis hits. How do you react?
Obviously, it depends on the magnitude of the crisis. Part of the answer lies in how you're wired to handle life's challenges, and part comes from the coping mechanisms you've acquired along the way.
When crises occur, we often hear the word "resilient." It's used to describe children who face the fallout from divorce. Or those who bounce back after a fire or flood ravages their home.
I've heard it a lot this past week in describing the people of mining communities in general -- and specifically the one in Raleigh County -- dealing with the tragedy of the recent mine explosion. It's hard to even imagine what they must be going through.
What is resilience? Are we born with it? Can we learn it? Are some people more resilient than others?
My research turned up some interesting theories. First of all, resilience is described as:
- Improving one's coping skills to handle life's hardships better.
- Being able to adapt to life's misfortunes and setbacks.
Sign me up! Who doesn't want that?
When something goes wrong, do you tend to bounce back or fall apart? When you have resilience, you harness inner strengths and rebound more quickly -- whether it's a job loss, an illness, a disaster or the death of a loved one. If you lack resilience, you tend to dwell on problems, feel victimized, become overwhelmed and turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Research shows most people consider themselves to be fairly resilient. The reality, though, is that many of us aren't emotionally or psychologically prepared to handle adversity.
According to psychologists Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte, many of us risk feeling helpless and giving up, rather than facing our challenges bravely and confidently. And even though you may be resilient in certain ways, and in specific areas of your life, you may need help in others.
In their book "The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life's Hurdles," Reivich and Shatte shed light on the following abilities.
Learning your ABCs
When confronted with a problem, are you ever surprised by how you react or wish you could respond differently? Do you ever assume you know the facts of a situation, only to find out later you misinterpreted them? If the thoughts running through your head when you're faced with adversity are inaccurate, your ability to respond effectively will be severely compromised.
A familiar model in the fields of psychology and counseling is the ABC System:
A -- Adversity (what pushes your buttons)
B -- Beliefs
C -- Consequences
Make no mistake -- the A's will keep on coming. We can do something about the B's and C's, though, which is refreshing for those who may feel powerless over their emotions.
Avoid thinking traps
When things go wrong, do you automatically blame yourself? Do you blame others? Do you assume you know what another person is thinking? Do you jump to conclusions?