Despite resilience being such a wonderful ability and one we all have, there are many misconceptions about it. Having covered what resilience is, it’s important to understand what resilience isn’t. These are the myths of resilience.
Myth 1: Resilience is a characteristic that shows up in extraordinary people and is something they are born with.
The myth that resilience is something only a few people are born with arises from the media focusing on the heroic examples of people who have dramatically risen above their circumstances. We often see on TV talk shows, the evening news or on the internet, examples of people who have been through the most remarkably difficult circumstances and have been able to cope and even thrive.
An example is that of Callie and Monique Strydom who were kidnapped in Malaysia by Al Quaeda rebels and survived four months under the harshest circumstances. On a daily basis they were threatened with death. They lived on an emotional rollercoaster as their hopes for rescue were raised, only to be cruelly dashed, time after time. They eventually were released, and returned triumphantly to South Africa and established a trust in their names to assist disadvantaged people.
Callie and Monique are exceptional individuals who suffered greatly in captivity. It’s easy to see how resilient they were over a long time period. When you think of what they went through and compare this with the problems we face, many of our problems seem insignificant in comparison.
Examples of such courage and resilience however, can lead us to despair that because we struggle to cope with lesser challenges in our own lives, we could never be as resilient as they are. We can easily conclude that their resilience is a special gift for extraordinary people.
The good news however is this view is incorrect. Everyone has resilience and can enhance their ability to be resilient and that it’s not just the fortunate few that have it.
We can be resilient, even when we feel we can’t. What we need are the tools and techniques to enhance our resilience so that we can be more effective in applying our innate resilience.