Building a lifetime of resilience.

I wonder if you’ve noticed the way in which many older people seem to have an enormous resilience to adversity?

When things go wrong they simply accept them, and carry on pretty much as normal.

Chatting to a friend who’s a clinical psychologist, I wondered if there might be a degree of denial involved in this.

Perhaps these older folks are in some way choosing to ignore what’s befallen them?

My friend’s view?

In general, definitely not.

Their very real strength and resilience comes from having experienced adversity and heartache in the past, and from having proved to themselves that it’s perfectly possible (and in fact highly likely) to bounce back.

When you face bad times, as you’re certain to, it can be tempting to believe that they’re simply destructive and negative – of no value whatsoever.

But another way of viewing things is that these challenging experiences are building up your mental immune system, in just the same way that having certain childhood illnesses boosts your physiological immunity.

Whether you’re eight or eighty, it seems that going through bad times can make you stronger.

7 thoughts on “Building a lifetime of resilience.

  1. I think this a dangerous comment and can make people feel inadequate. It depends on the degree of adversity you have experienced. Especially in childhood.

    It has been shown that adversity and trauma can actually affect the brain and the level of adrenaline in the body. There is another chemical beginning with a c the name of which I have forgotten which kicks in under severe stress which has a detrimental affect on the body. And thereby affecting the ability to cope emotionally. And everybody is different in their ability to cope.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Judith, and I can see that I should have included a thought about this being a “different strokes for different folks” idea.

      You’re absolutely right in saying that everybody is different in their ability to cope.

      Making people feel inadequate is definitely not something I’d ever want to do, so my sincere apologies for giving that impression. Thanks again.

  2. Well, I do agree with your view, Jon. Judith, I refer you to the experiences of Victor Frankl, who experienced really bad things. I found him / his writings illuminating. Look him up?

  3. I just received some bad news and I’m 64, feel pretty devastated by it but the difference is that I know that one way or another it will sort itself out. The fact that I see my therapist tomorrow helps enormously but I do agree that perhaps it depends on the level of adversity you have experienced. I tend to think “oh more sh*t coming my way, why am I not surprised?” It’s the human condition and I think the chemical that kicks in for me is detrimental but it triggers my This is bad but I can get through it attitude because I have had enough but not in a defeatist way.

    1. So sorry to hear that you’ve received bad news, Lostinspace. Very, very glad to hear you’re tackling this in a way that’s not defeatist. Seeing your therapist tomorrow sounds as though it will be mighty useful.

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