The word resilience seems to be used in many different contexts as a necessary quality. But is there such a thing as too much resilience?
What is resilience?
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, resilience is defined as “the ability to be happy, successful, etc. again after something difficult or bad has happened”.
For example, a school pupil may not pass an exam. However, seeing their insufficient grade may spur them on to study harder, revise more efficiently and succeed when they retake the test. Resilience was bouncing back from the disappointment.
Another example could be a worker dealing with a challenging customer who attacked them personally when they were unable to give them the discount they expected. Rather than crumbling, the worker continued to work to the best of their ability.
Why is resilience an important trait?
Resilience is a trait deemed to be important within most areas of life. Why is that the case?
It can stop us from being overwhelmed
Being able to bounce back from a problem can be a useful skill to have. Focusing too much on what went wrong can leave us feeling overwhelmed. Therefore, resilience and getting straight back to life can help.
It can help our mental health
If we are feeling more relaxed and satisfied with situations, our mental health is bound to be in a better place.
It can help us maintain a growth mindset
If we are fixated on something going wrong or not happening in the way in which we expected it to, this can prevent us from having a growth mindset. A growth mindset is vital if someone wants to develop themselves, their skills, their knowledge, their understanding and ultimately not remain static.
It can impact positively on those around us
Optimism goes hand in hand with resilience as the most resilient of people tend to be positive about the future, not resigned to things going wrong all of the time.
It can demonstrate a sense of humour
If you think back to an embarrassing experience at school, it is likely that you ran away and hid rather than tackling the embarrassment head-on. If we show resilience when we make mistakes and laugh at ourselves, when appropriate, we show our sense of humour and prove that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
Is resilience always a good thing?
No. While resilience does offer many positives, sometimes, it simply isn’t the best response to a situation.
Here are a few reasons why too much resilience could be problematic:
It can be counterproductive
If we continue trying time and time again to tackle a problem or meet expectations within a certain area, perhaps we are wasting our time and focusing on the wrong thing. Being resilient can prevent us from seeing our own limitations (we do have some!) and we can end up working on things that are fruitless rather than things that could be far more beneficial.
It can prevent us from showing we care
Resilience can be fantastic, but it can also give off an air to others that we don’t care. For example, if there has been an extremely challenging situation at work and we brush it off, focusing on other things, we may present to others as not taking the issues seriously.
It can stop us from moving forward with our lives
Resilience in our working lives could mean that we continue to work on projects and within roles when we really could do much better. It can make us far too tolerant of adversity if we have too much resilience.
It can be demeaning
Constantly bouncing back from events can be incredibly demeaning. Rather than putting a stop to negative things that are happening within our lives, tolerating them for the sake of being resilient can be detrimental to ourselves and thus our mental health. In fact, it can also give off the message to others that they should also put up with certain scenarios.
Within many areas of our lives, there is a fine balance when it comes to certain traits. Resilience certainly falls into that category. There is a fine balance between resilience promoting a positive attitude and it having a negative impact on life, both current and future.