Resilience is the new buzzword in mental health, but is it really any better than the words we had before - like 'self-esteem' or 'confidence'. It's been glibly defined as the ability to 'bounce back' or 'emotional toughness' but surely it must be a bit more complex than that.
The resources below are from the Korus Connect conference for youth chaplains in Melbourne in 2018 when Dr Rob Waller gave a) a keynote introduction to youth mental health issues, b) a keynote on resilience including a model, and c) a seminar for youth chaplains and other people who work in stressful environments about how you can build your own resilience. There is lots of detail in the slides - which are available as PDF downloads - and you can choose audio or video for the sessions themselves.
A Model for Resilience
The picture below gives one possible model for resilience. It's hard to boil something like this down into a model, but the basic idea is this:
1) stuff happens - stressors and traumas will occur in life - occasionally huge, but more often the smaller bumps of every day
2) we then have a choice - to go down the route of unhelpful emotions, or to go down the resilience path
3) unhelpful emotions can be internalising [eg we become depressed and self-blaming] or externalising [we become angry and shout at others]. The problem is that these result in questions like 'who' and 'why' to which there isn't really an answer.
4) instead its better to 'simply become upset'. This might sound really silly and simplistic, especially for a big trauma, but the idea is that a) its OK to become upsent / have emotions and b) we need to try [if we can] to stand back and just stop at the emotion stage rather than rushing to blame or questions. you will find that you can do this for some smaller bumps in the road, but will struggle for larger traumas - this is normal and is a sign that you are only resilient up to a certain level. The idea here is not to produce super-humans who wear their underpants on the outside - but to appreciate that resilience is something that can be learnt and can grow over time.
5) if we can stand back, we can then enter a cycle that is basically problem solving. If there is something we can do then let's do it, if not we simply become upset. Over time, we develop better problem solving skills, realise we have more control over things than we thought - and so become more resilient. Even if it seems like we have little control, we do have some control over how we react.
Do watch the whole Resilience video and look at some of the supporting resources to find out more.