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Building Resiliency



Resiliency whilst dealing with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is challenging, but a very healing aspect of the journey.


What Is Resiliency?


Resilience is the capacity to withstand stress and catastrophe. Psychologists have long recognized the capabilities of humans to adapt and overcome risk and adversity. Individuals and communities are able to rebuild their lives even after devastating tragedies.

Being resilient doesn’t mean going through life without experiencing stress and pain. People feel grief, sadness, and a range of other emotions after adversity and loss. The road to resilience lies in working through the emotions and effects of stress and painful events.

Resilience is also not something that you’re either born with or not. Resilience develops as people grow up and gain better thinking and self-management skills and more knowledge. Resilience also comes from supportive relationships with parents, peers and others, as well as cultural beliefs and traditions that help people cope with the inevitable bumps in life.  Resilience is found in a variety of behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed across the life span.

Factors that contribute to resilience include:


  • Close relationships with family and friends

  • A positive view of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities

  • The ability to manage strong feelings and impulses

  • Good problem-solving and communication skills

  • Feeling in control

  • Seeking help and resources

  • Seeing yourself as resilient

  • Coping with stress in healthy ways and avoiding harmful coping strategies, such as substance abuse

  • Helping others

  • Finding positive meaning in your life despite difficult or traumatic events



Posttraumatic growth


Researchers are studying this posttraumatic growth—positive changes people experience after struggling with a major life crisis or traumatic event.


We all deal with everyday stresses and difficult times. But what about people who experience severe trauma? In most cases, people exposed to traumatic events do not develop psychiatric disorders. However, most will experience feelings of grief, anxiety, anger, and other negative emotions. During this process, some people discover positive changes in their lives or within themselves.


Posttraumatic growth is common, but not universal. Just because people show personal growth in adversity doesn’t mean they will not suffer. In many cases, suffering and growth can coexist.  

Psychologists Richard G. Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun have found in many cases that reports of growth after traumatic events far outnumber the reports of disorders.


They have identified reports of posttraumatic growth in a variety of serious traumas, including people who have experienced bereavement, life-threatening or life-changing illness, serious medical problems of their children, transportation accidents, house fires, sexual assault and sexual abuse, combat, refugee experiences, and being taken hostage


They describe five areas of growth reported by people who have experienced these and other traumatic events:


  • Discovery of new opportunities and possibilities that were not present before

  • Closer relationships with others, especially others who suffer

  • Greater appreciation for life

  • Greater sense of personal strength: “If I lived through that, I can face anything”

  • Spiritual growth


Researchers are careful to remind us that growth comes from the struggle to cope with the trauma—not from the event itself.


Trauma is not necessary for growth, and researchers do not suggest that traumatic events themselves or suffering are in any way good. They are observing the positive effects of coping with trauma. It is important to allow people enough time to adapt to the aftermath of the trauma, and in the meantime to avoid trite comments about suffering and growth.


Source: This Emotional Life




Factors promoting resilience


Internal characteristics


  • Self-esteem

  • Trust

  • Resourcefulness

  • Self-efficacy

  • Internal locus of control

  • Secure attachments

  • Sense of humour

  • Self-sufficiency

  • Sense of mastery

  • Optimism

  • Interpersonal abilities such as social skills, problem-solving skills and impulse control


External factors


  • Safety

  • Religious affiliation

  • Strong role models

  • Emotional sustenance: the extent to which others provide the individual with understanding, companionship, sense of belonging and positive regard



Source: BJ Psych Resources


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