“The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.”
Resilience – it is one of my favorite words. I love the sound of the word when spoken. The order of the letters creates a sound smooth as a weathered stone, a sound that flows like water off the tongue. The word conjures a sense of calmness, strength, accomplishment, and hope. You are resilient- it is the utmost compliment.
Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape. It is toughness and elasticity. It is true grit, brute strength, and absolute acceptance.
In ecology, resilience, defined as the capacity of an ecosystem to respond to a perturbation, or disturbance, predicts how quickly an ecosystem can recover. Disturbances can originate naturally, such as flood, fire, drought, and disease, or can be the result of human activity, such as pollution, habitat degradation, fragmentation, and destruction. Ecosystems can experience stress from multiple factors, like climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction. If an ecosystem is stable in structure and function, it may recover quickly from a disturbance.
According to the Crisis Prevention Institute, trauma is defined as an event or series of events and experiences, or prolonged experiences, and/or a threat or perceived threats to a person’s well-being. Traumatic events include natural disasters, violent crime, sexual abuse, bullying, domestic violence, abandonment, neglect, and poverty. Trauma is a disturbance, a perturbation resulting in negative impacts to one’s sense of safety, emotional self-regulation, concept of self, physical and emotional health, cognitive thinking and academic success, and interpersonal relationships and social skills. Traumatization occurs when an individual has inadequate internal and/or external coping skills. Reactions to traumatic events are individual and subjective, often influenced by one’s history, beliefs, perceptions, expectations, level of stress tolerance, values, and morals.
As with healthy, natural ecosystems, individuals can exhibit resilience in the wake of a single perturbation, or series of traumatic events. Acknowledging and accepting one’s emotions, implementing coping strategies such as breathing, mindfulness, and grounding, seeking out a safe and comfortable space, and surrounding oneself with individuals who can listen intently, engage compassionately, and love unconditionally builds a strong web of support and strategies that can promote healing, resiliency, and recovery.