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Resilience. Exploring it’s meaning for you as an individual.

Resilience, it’s not a word that was used as I was growing up. I think the language we use has certainly changed or maybe it wasn’t a word that was used in my environment.

As a society today we talk a lot about resilience. We talk about what levels of resilience are needed to be successful in certain jobs, how much resilience is needed to achieve certain tasks and the levels of resilience we want to see in younger people.  But how do we build resilience and how can we recognise it in ourselves?

I have resilience; I can identify that I have it now, but I have only understood the true meaning in the last few years. That in itself can pose a challenge, as a society we are talking about resilience, building this into our work environment or education but as adults do we understand the level of resilience we have, how we developed it and how we use this in our day to day life?

I am still exploring the meaning and impacts of resilience, for personal understanding and development, but also to enable me to understand others thus achieving successful professional, and personal relationships. Lots of theorists, psychologists and professionals in this field explore how resilience can be about how you bounce back from events and difficulties, events that happen as early as your infant years. Constantly curious and wanting to understand more, a “light bulb moment“ for me has been reading the work of Dr Kenneth R. Ginsburg; Building Resilience in Children and Teens. A key part of Dr Ginsburg’s theory is the seven crucial C’s, which I now believe is an effective way of understanding your own resilience; Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character, Contribution, Coping, Control.

This picture is me, sat on my Mum’s lap and obviously oblivious to the word resilience, but from this very young age I now understand my resilience levels started building quickly.

Aged three as my Mum is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and it very quickly takes a firm hold resulting in her being unable to live with me and my Dad in our family home, my connection and coping has kicked in. I have an unbreakable bond, a connection with both parents but in the years to come it is clear this in an unbreakable connection with my Dad. And I was coping, coping with my Mum’s illness, coping with being separated from her.

I do not remember any trauma, my mum was in a home for 5 years until she sadly passed, I was 8. By this point I can now acknowledge I had developed a competency of being able to get on with life, I still had strong connections with my Dad and his parents, and I was coping. My character was developing.

My school years were not my best, a haze of attending but just getting by, an average student. A period of bad behaviour. Confidence and Competence were certainly not around at this point. My connections did stay, and I built new friendships which added to my connections. I was still coping, just.

16, I get to leave school, relief! I can start to carve my own way in the world. The world of work. I was seen differently, immediately as an adult. My efforts were recognised, I found the tasks I was given easy and flourished. I was made to feel my contributions were valued, my character was developing, I made more connections, I coped with new tasks, situations and challenges, and not just coping I was being competent, I was in control of my destiny.

For the first time I can recognise all 7 crucial C’s of resilience are in place, I am now 18.

The rest of my career and life has seen its ups and downs and I have coped. Sometimes my resilience has made me stop, hunker down and just get by. Other times, it has made me stop, evaluate and plough on through with confidence and competence.

I do wish I had understood myself before I headed into my forties! But maybe there are points you must accept you are who you are for what you have experienced. However, maybe using the 7 crucial C’s we can understand ourselves more and certainly we can help future generations understand resilience in themselves.

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