September 14

Because There’s More to the Resilience Conversation

If you're wondering why there is so much talk about resilience, here's something to consider.

Two students were at the same high school; one was bright, got straight As, and was very popular. His name was Hal. The other was Cal who kept to his small group of friends and worked hard even if his marks didn't reflect it. They were also very close friends. No one could understand what the two had in common.

When Hal, the popular student, broke his chin, he was off school for 3 months and couldn't get back to regular sports for the rest of the school year. Interestingly, Cal had a similar accident and was back in school the following week and resumed sports in the normal eight weeks. The big difference was interpersonal and mindset. Hal became very angry, frustrated, and difficult to please when he had his accident. He was pouty and treated friends and family as if they had cheated them. Slowly, most of his friends stopped calling or stopping by and his family spent only as much time as needed in his foul presence.

Interestingly, when Cal had his accident, he was very sure it was a minor setback and he told everyone that he now had time to plan his workout to get back to the game. People wanted to cheer on his attitude, so his class started a bet to see how soon he would be back, and his friends brought their friends to cheer him on. He would sometimes get his parents and friends to drop him off at the gym to see other classmates' workouts, and he helped them count reps and offered tips and suggestions to get better.

When interviewed about his thoughts during his accident, Hal stated that he was too fit and popular to be sitting at home with an injury, while Call said he thought it was an opportunity to test his strength and encourage others because he seldom had time to do this while he was fit. They had very different attitudes and the same injury. Cal thought of others invested in his interpersonal network and practiced self-mastery to manage his emotions, while Hal thought about himself and became depressed, frustrated, and angry.

What does Resilience entail?

Resilience is the ability to face and adapt to challenges and difficult situations to overcome them. People with strong resilience can handle challenges and rejections because they do not let disappointments keep them from moving forward positively. Like most human beings, they experience difficulties and setbacks but confidently experience those factors and don't allow them to hinder their success.

Surprisingly, many people are surprised when we share that resilience is centered around the interpersonal realm of the well-being intelligence system. Resilience occurs when we focus on connections, exchanges, and interpersonal relationships. If only Hal could have taken his eyes off himself and accepted the goodwill of his friends and family, he would have recovered from his injury and to sports a lot sooner. Resilience is connected to our relationship with ourselves and with others. Our community, ability to accept help, reason, show self-compassion, and forgiveness of ourselves and others is what drives our resilience. Resilience is more than the physical or emotional, it is deeply attached to the nine dimensions of well-being.

Types of Resilience

There are different types of resilience. We will explore these types of resilience in this article. They include:

  • Physical Resilience
  • Psychological Resilience
  • Emotional Resilience
  • Community Resilience

1. Physical Resilience

Physical resilience refers to the body's ability to adapt to physical challenges such as sickness or accidents when they arise, maintain stamina and strength, and recover quickly and efficiently. The ability to keep moving, one tiny step at a time, especially when you don't feel like it or are in excruciating pain, is an example of physical resilience. Studies have shown that high physical resilience is associated with better quality of life and one's mindset, attitudes, and the supportive relationships they have around them.

2. Psychological Resilience

Psychological resilience is mentally coping with or adapting to uncertainty, challenges, and adversities. The capacity to keep calm under intense pressure is a very good example of psychological resilience. People who exhibit psychological resilience develop coping strategies and skills to remain serene and focused during a crisis and move on without long-term negative consequences, including distress and anxiety. This includes getting professional support to address trauma and move past difficult emotional and challenging situations to recover your equilibrium.

3. Emotional Resilience

Emotional resilience is your ability to respond to stressful or unexpected situations and crises. How people cope emotionally with stress and adversity varies from person to person, according to the Children's Society. Emotionally resilient people understand what they're feeling and why. They tap into optimism, even when dealing with a negative situation, and are proactive in using internal and external resources. They can manage external stressors and emotions in a healthy, positive way. This is something that Hal couldn't do during his time of illness, while Cal could.

4. Community Resilience

Community resilience is the resilience of society rather than specific individuals or groups. It refers to the ability of groups of people to respond to and recover from adverse situations, such as natural disasters, acts of violence, economic hardship, and other challenges to the group. As indicated in Everyday Health, real-life examples of community resilience include New York City after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Newtown, Connecticut, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting; and New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

It's important to note that a set of skills makes up a well-being intelligence competency. Like all competencies, it can be developed and improved over time. If you are not feeling emotionally or physically resilient, be hopeful and work with a coach or other professional to map out a way to develop resilience as a competency. Building resilience takes time, strength, and help from people around you; you'll likely experience setbacks. Other well-being competencies also factor in your development, such as self-esteem, self-mastery, and communication skills, as well as external things like social support from your interpersonal network and other available resources.

During September, we offer a range of resilience-building competency coaching sessions to build resilience. Check out our well-being reset sessions during September, or book your resilience-building coaching sessions.

To Your Wellness


About the author

Joyce Odidison is President of Interpersonal Wellness Services Inc., founder of the Annual Global Workplace Wellness Summit, and a sought-after international keynote speaker who draws on decades of expertise as a Conflict Analyst, Master Certified Coach, DEI Consultant, and Well-being expert. Joyce shares her compelling research and practice on the Well-being Intelligence Competencies™ providing tools and insights to address the escalating psychological safety, mental health, and wellness challenges that leaders grapple with today.

Joyce believes that all relationships and interactions affect well-being, so we must apply intelligence to refuel and foster resilience and performance. Joyce is host of What’s Happening at Work podcast, where she shares practical strategies about how what’s going on at work any day of the week affects well-being. She is the author of six books, a former college and university instructor, and a regular TV expert who has been featured in news media globally.


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