Resilience in the Face of Adversity

How to bounce back rather than break

Photo credit: Dreamstime

Is Resilience In the Genes?

Early theories of resilience tend to emphasize genetics and assert that some people are biologically predisposed to be more resilient. Such models often describe resilience as a trait that is inherent in certain people — a combination of body chemistry and personality characteristics that determine individuals’ responses to stress. In fact, scientists suspect that the 5HTT gene, which is reported to influence serotonin function in the brain, may play a role. People with this gene may have a genetic advantage that helps them bounce back better in response to stress and hardship.

Microscopic view of DNA.
Image Credit: Gerd Altmann at Pixabay

Building Blocks of Resilience

While there is no consensus in the literature regarding the mechanism of resilience, most theories have a great deal of overlap in the qualities and distinguishing characteristics they identify as being typical of resilient people. Resilience is said to be comprised of a variety of factors, such as:

  • the ability to manage strong emotions
  • an optimistic outlook (along with an acceptance of reality, rather than engaging in denial)
  • positive relationships and the ability to enlist others’ help
  • a sense of personal control and ownership
  • interpersonal and communication skills
  • strong values and beliefs
  • sense of humor
  • flexibility and an ability to be creative in solving problems
  • a strong sense of self and confidence in one’s strengths and abilities
  • the capacity to set realistic goals and take steps to carry them out
Woman leaning against tree with eyes closed in contemplation.
Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash

The Search for Meaning

Most experts agree that one of the most essential components of resilience is the ability to find meaning in life, and often in one’s suffering. We all have encountered people who see themselves as victims of whatever befalls them and seem to find no value in living through difficult times. Resilient people, in contrast, have the ability to find meaning in their suffering, and in so doing they can create a better future.

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Writer with ME/CFS and fibromyalgia helping others to survive and thrive with chronic illness. Lifelong learner, dog mom, therapist-to-be.

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Lisa Lorden Myers

Writer with ME/CFS and fibromyalgia helping others to survive and thrive with chronic illness. Lifelong learner, dog mom, therapist-to-be.