All women deal with adversity, but the harder part is learning to respond to adversity in a way that leads to recovery and good health.
Mary Steinhardt, a health education professor at the University of Texas at Austin, knows about adversity and resilience as the director of a resilience education program.
“Adversity is something that challenges us, that stresses our capacity in some way, that we might struggle with,” Steinhardt said. “If I have some stable foundation, adversity pushes me off of that stable foundation, and then I have to use my strength and resources to bounce back to where I was.”
Resilience is “the ability to bounce back from adversity and fully recover,” she said.
The inability to become resilient is when people “flounder,” she added.
“That’s when people get stuck in a rut,” Steinhardt said. “That’s when people are kind of putting up with just the daily stressors without doing anything about it.”
She said that’s a problem because then people aren’t growing.
“If they do that long enough, not only are they not growing, but they atrophy,” Steinhardt said.
She said she thinks everyone is born with resilience, but the capacity can increase or decrease.
“In this fast-paced world, I’m hoping that we’re out there trying to take advantage of [resilience],” Steinhardt said.
She offers an online program in resilience that covers ways to become more resilient.
“We need to take responsibility rather than live in denial or blame somebody else or make excuses or shame ourself,” Steinhardt said. “We need to take more and more responsibility, which is kind of owning our power to choose and create for ourself more in our life.”
The second way to improve resilience is to have a certain way of thinking.
“We need to think in ways that bring power to us instead of so much negativity and thinking that takes us to blame and shame and denial,” Steinhardt said.
Also, people need to make “meaningful connections” with others throughout life, she said.