The Intersection of Resilience and Strength: How They Work Together to Help Us Succeed
Resilience is an essential quality for navigating life’s challenges. Understanding why resilience is important is only part of the equation, though. Strength, resilience’s sister quality, is just as important to consider. Both are important in their own right, but when combined, they can be a powerful force for helping us to overcome obstacles and achieve our goals. In this blog post, I will explore the intersection of resilience and strength and how they work together to help us succeed in the face of adversity. I will also provide strategies for developing and fostering both resilience and strength to ensure we stay diligent in our pursuit of greatness.
I came across this article on NPR about how resilience “how unexamined resilience can mask structural forces that make your life harder.” This article highlights this point in great detail, suggesting that instead of striving to be resilient, we should place more value on allowing someone to feel or cry without feeling shame. “Let’s move away from using ‘resilient’ as a compliment…and instead ask what’s forcing people to be more resilient?”, says Connie Hanzhang Jin.
I was actually taken aback when I read this article. On the one hand, I can respect where this perspective comes from. I understand the mentality of not wanting life to be hard, wishing for ease and comfort, and wanting to give in to the pressure of the day-to-day grind. I can both relate to and sympathize with this place because I, too, have been there. But on the other hand, I completely disagree with this perspective.
I’m not sure where we lost it, but since when has strength or resilience in our society not been something to celebrate? Even in trying times, even when we want things to be easy, even surviving terrible circumstances, it is the essence of resilience from which we derive strength to persevere. And often it is these trying times that shape us as individuals.
Even in nature, we can see why resilience and strength are important. The animals who don’t possess these traits simply don’t make it. And for a good reason…because they aren’t fit for their environment. The difference here is that we have the ability to strengthen these skills, whereas, in nature, they don’t. So why in the world would we not promote ways to strengthen these skills and instead sympathize with the desire to crawl in a ball and cry because life is hard? It doesn’t make sense.
Life isn’t going to get easier. So rather than just wishing it was different, we have an obligation to strengthen our ability to become resilient to the world around us if we want to live a more fulfilled and happy life.
But how? I’m glad you asked… Let’s dive in.
Let’s start by talking about the difference between the two.
Defining: Understanding the Key Differences
Sometimes these two qualities get confused because they are similar, but they are not the same. They have a symbiotic relationship that makes it easy to overlook their key differences, so let me explain.
Resilience refers to the ability to recover from or adjust to difficult circumstances or adversity, while strength refers to the ability to exert force or withstand an applied force.
The best way I could think of the define the two is that resilience is a defensive play, while strength is an offensive play. You can’t just use one, you need both qualities to succeed because both are essential to navigate life’s challenges.
The Intersection of Resilience and Strength: How They Work Together
The intersection of resilience and strength is where the true power of these qualities lies. Resilience, the ability to recover from or adjust to difficult circumstances or adversity, is essential for bouncing back from challenges and stress. Strength, the ability to resist external forces, is essential for pushing through obstacles and achieving our goals. Together, resilience and strength create a powerful force that enables us to navigate life’s challenges with grace and determination.
When we are resilient, we can bounce back from setbacks and keep moving forward. We can process and learn from difficult experiences instead of getting stuck in them. We can adapt and find new ways of approaching problems. On the other hand, strength helps us push through obstacles to achieve our goals. It gives us the determination and willpower to keep going even when things get tough.
When resilience and strength work together, we are able to not only overcome adversity but also to grow and learn from it. We are able to take the lessons from our struggles and use them to become stronger, more determined, and more resilient. We are able to build our mental and physical strength, and become better equipped to handle whatever life throws our way.
Strategies for Building Resilience and Strength
Life is hard, and hoping for it to be less difficult won’t ever change the fact that resilience and strength are a necessary component if we want to live a happy and fulfilled life. Therefore, while we covered why resilience is important, let’s now talk about the strategies we can use to build resilience and strenth.
Building resilience and strength takes time and effort, especially if it’s a new concept. If you’re looking to build these qualities, here are a few strategies you can try:
Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help you stay present in the moment and reduce stress, which in turn helps build resilience. Try incorporating mindfulness practices like meditation or deep breathing into your daily routine. (Read more about mindfulness here)
Connect with others: Having strong social support is key to building resilience. Make time to connect with friends and family. (Some tips to build community here)
Get moving: There are many parallels between emotional strength and physical strength. When we begin to build our physical strength, there is also an emotional component at work. Regular physical activity has been shown to improve both resilience and strength. Exercise can help boost mood and reduce stress, which helps build resilience. (More on the importance of exercise here)
Self-Reflect: Instead of dwelling on negative experiences, try to learn from them. Reflect on what you’ve been through, and think about what you’ve learned and how you can apply it to future challenges.
Set goals: Setting goals and working towards them can help build strength and resilience. Having something to work towards can help you stay motivated and focused, even when things get tough.
Self-love: Building resilience and strength also means being kind to yourself. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, and don’t be too hard on yourself when things don’t go as planned. (More on self-love here)
Remember, building resilience and strength takes time and effort, but it’s definitely worth it. These strategies can help you build both resilience and strength over time, and help you navigate life’s challenges with grace and determination.
What Resilience looks like in “real-life”
- Seeking help and support when needed
- Being able to adapt to change
- Staying optimistic in difficult situations
- Being able to learn from mistakes and failures
- Being persistent and determined in the face of obstacles
- Being able to maintain a sense of humor during difficult times
- Being able to regulate emotions and manage stress
- Being able to maintain a healthy work-life balance
- Being able to maintain a positive mindset and attitude
- Being able to take responsibility for one’s actions and decisions.
What Strength looks like in “real-life”
- Being able to set and achieve goals
- Being able to take initiative and act independently
- Being able to assert oneself and speak up for oneself
- Being able to maintain self-control and composure in difficult situations
- Being able to handle stress and pressure well
- Being able to make tough decisions
- Being able to stay focused and persistent
- Being able to take responsibility for one’s actions and decisions
- Being able to take care of oneself and maintain self-care
- Being able to maintain a positive attitude and outlook, even in the face of adversity.
It’s important to note that both resilience and strength are not fixed traits. They can be developed and nurtured over time through different strategies and practices. These behaviors are not always easy to practice and may take time to develop, but with effort, all individuals can develop resilience to navigate life’s challenges more effectively. (If I learned to strengthen these muscles, I know that anyone else can too).
Conclusion: The Power of Resilience and Strength in Overcoming Adversity
Resilience is the mental ability to recover quickly from difficult things. It’s a defensive strategy.
Strength is the ability to withstand great force. It’s an offensive strategy.
I think putting this into defense vs. offense helps make sense of the two because I see defense as preparing yourself for the unexpected life circumstances throws at you and not succumbing to the pressure whereas having an offensive strategy is learning how to score. The thing is, you need both.
Resilience and strength often work together in a symbiotic relationship. Not much different than how a team needs both a solid offensive and defensive plan to win a game. For example, when we have the resilience to keep going despite setbacks, we build the strength to overcome them. When we have the strength to push through obstacles, we develop the resilience to keep going.
In short, resilience and strength are not the same but are both essential qualities that help us navigate life’s challenges. When they work together, they create a powerful force that enables us to overcome adversity, achieve our goals, and become stronger, more determined, and more resilient individuals.