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YOUNG PEOPLE ASK

How Resilient Am I?

How resilient are you? Have you been affected by . . .

  • the death of a loved one?

  • a long-term illness?

  • a natural disaster?

Researchers say that it’s not only big challenges that require resilience. Even day-to-day stress can take a toll on your health. That is why it’s important for you to build resilience, no matter how trivial or how serious your problems may be.

 What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to handle life’s changes and adversities successfully. Resilient people are not immune to hardship. However, they can emerge from it—scarred, perhaps, yet stronger.

Just as some trees bend in a storm but straighten up after the winds subside, you can recover from adversity

 Why do you need resilience?

  • Because adversity is inevitable. The Bible says: “The swift do not always win the race, . . . nor do those with knowledge always have success, because time and unexpected events overtake them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) The lesson? Even good people suffer—often through no fault of their own.

  • Because resilience protects you. A high-school counselor notes: “There have been an unprecedented number of meltdowns in my office because of a C on an exam or a mean social media remark.” Even in these seemingly trivial matters, he says, poor coping skills can create “a host of different mental and emotional disorders.” *

  • Because resilience will serve you well both now and in adulthood. Regarding life’s disappointments, Dr. Richard Lerner writes: “Part of being a successful and productive adult is to bounce back from such experiences, to set new goals or to try to find other pathways to reach our intended objective.” *

 How can you build resilience?

  • Put your problem in perspective. Learn to distinguish between major problems and minor events. The Bible says: “A fool immediately shows his annoyance, but the shrewd man overlooks an insult.” (Proverbs 12:16) Not all problems need to consume you.

    “In school, kids complained about trivial things in an overly dramatic way. Then they got feedback from their friends on social media—and that would kindle their fire even more, limiting their ability to put their problems in perspective.”—Joanne.

  • Learn from others. A Bible proverb states: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17) Valuable lessons can be learned from people who have already weathered storms of adversity.

    “As you talk to others, you’ll find that they have gone through a lot of difficult trials, but they are OK now. Talk to them and find out what they did or didn’t do to cope with their situation.”—Julia.

  • Be patient. The Bible says: “The righteous one may fall seven times, and he will get up again.” (Proverbs 24:16) It takes time to come to terms with hardship, so don’t be surprised if you have bad days. The important thing is that you “get up again.”

    “When you are bouncing back from adversity, your heart and emotions have to heal. That is a process, and it takes time. I have learned that the road to recovery gets a little better and a little easier as time goes on.”—Andrea.

  • Cultivate gratitude. The Bible says: “Show yourselves thankful.” (Colossians 3:15) No matter how serious the hardship is that you are facing, there are always things for which you can be grateful. Think of three things that make your life worth living.

    “When you are facing adversity, it’s hard not to say to yourself, ‘Why me?’ A big part of resilience is not dwelling on your problems but choosing to be positive and grateful for what you have or what you can do.”—Samantha.

  • Choose contentment. The apostle Paul said: “I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11, footnote) Paul’s adversities were beyond his control. What he could control was his response. Paul was determined to remain content.

    “One thing I have learned about myself is that the way I initially react to adversity is not always the best. My goal is to cultivate a positive attitude toward any situation. That will benefit not only me but also those around me.”—Matthew.

  • Pray. The Bible says: “Throw your burden on Jehovah, and he will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to fall.” (Psalm 55:22) Prayer is not a psychological crutch. It is real communication with your Creator, who “cares for you.”—1 Peter 5:7.

    “I don’t have to struggle alone. By praying openly and honestly about my issues and then thanking God for my blessings, I get rid of my negative emotions by focusing on what Jehovah has blessed me with. Prayer is so important!”—Carlos.

^ par. 16 From the book Disconnected, by Thomas Kersting.

^ par. 17 From the book The Good Teen—Rescuing Adolescence From the Myths of the Storm and Stress Years.