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What defines resilience?

By Atip Muangsuwan


To me, “Resilience is about getting back up every time we fall. We can get back up because of our strong will. Strong will to live and strong will to thrive!”

 – Coach Atip Muangsuwan

One of my new-generation-leader clients showed up with his interesting topic for a discussion just before our actual coaching session. His topic of discussion was… “What defines resilience? How to cultivate resilience in me?”

Our discussion went on as the followings.

Client: As you know, for over 2.5 years now that the world has been in the COVID-19 pandemic situation and the global economy has been seriously affected from that, almost everyone if not all has been in very difficult situations with regard to these circumstances. And I’ve heard the words of advice going around and around, “We need to be resilient. We need to be resilient.”. So, could you please shed the light on me… “What defines resilience and how to cultivate it in me?”

Coach Atip: Certainly, I could. Resilience is typically defined as the capacity to recover from difficult life events. It’s the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back and grow despite life’s downturns.

People face all kinds of adversity in life. There are personal crises, such as illness, loss of a loved one, abuse, bullying, job loss, and financial instability. There is the shared reality of tragic events in the news, such as terrorist attacks, mass shootings, natural disasters, and of course the COVID-19 pandemic. People have to learn to cope with and work through very challenging life experiences.

Signs of resilience include the ability to regulate emotions, a sense of confidence and control, effective coping skills, and leaning on social support when needed.

Resilience represents an ability to handle life’s setbacks and is an overall representation of adaptability. However, there are also different types of resilience, each of which can influence a person’s ability to cope with various forms of adversity in life.

Physical Resilience

Physical resilience refers to how the body deals with change and recovers from physical demands, illnesses, and injuries. Research suggests that this type of resilience plays an important role in health. It affects how people age as well as how they respond and recover from physical pains and medical issues.

I’m thinking of my own mother as a good example of this physical-resilience type. My mother went through several knee and hip operations and every time she was able to recover very quickly and was able to walk within a week after each operation.

Recently, at the age of 86, after she had seriously complicated health issues and went in and out of a hospital several times, and was told that she had only a minimal chance to survive; but she could still recover from those health complications and has been released from the hospital and back resting at home now.

Client: Wow! Your mother is a great example of physical resilience indeed!

Coach Atip: That’s right. I guess one of the main reasons why she could survive her serious health complications is… she has a very strong will to live. That’s probably why she is so physically resilient even at the age of 86. And the strong will to live is directly related to the following type of resilience.

Mental Resilience

Mental resilience refers to a person’s ability to mentally withstand or adapt to uncertainty, challenges, and adversity. It is sometimes referred to as “mental strength.”

People who possess this type of resilience are flexible and calm during times of crisis. They use mental strength to solve problems, move forward, and remain hopeful and optimistic even when they are facing setbacks.

This mental strength also includes the strong will to live and to withstand or endure pain or suffering while remaining optimistic about going-away of the pain or suffering in the near future.

Client: Wow! I’d really love to build or cultivate the mental resilience in me. How to?

Coach Atip: So would I. I think it is vitally important to instill the mental strength or mental resilience in each and every one of us.

A way to build or cultivate mental resilience is to write and keep the victory log. And review and reflect on it every time we get knocked down by difficult life events or people. Personally, I consistently write and keep my victory log. And I’ll bring it out to review and reflect upon every time I experience adversity, setbacks and challenging life situations in order to regain my mental resilience.

A few examples of my victories and accomplishments in my victory log are such as…

In 2006, I could pay off the entire debts of my first house mortgage and car loan (worth 3 million baht in total) within only 4 years and became a debt-free man! (While still having a chance to enjoy at least two overseas trips a year and continually paying for AIA insurance premium over 200,000 baht per year and also own a piece of land in my hometown)

In 2012, I could buy a sporty Mercedes car worth 3 million baht in one-time cash payment in my thirties.  

In 2015, I could buy my second house worth 5 million baht without having to pay installments.

In 2017, I paid my income tax around 1.35 million baht to the Thai government. This amount of money could make you own a high-quality brand-new Japanese car to drive in Thailand.

In 2019, I bought my third house worth 14.2 million baht. I could pay off the house mortgage within only 3 years.

Client: Wow! What a victory log! How could you achieve all those accomplishments?

Coach Atip: There’s a secret recipe to that! I can share with you later if you’re really interested. 

Another way to cultivate your mental resilience is to focus on your strengths and utilize your strengths to your advantages. You can learn more about how to utilize your strengths to your advantages from reading my article: “Strength-Utilized Coaching”.

The next type of resilience is…

Emotional Resilience

Emotional resilience involves being able to regulate emotions during times of stress or suffering. Emotionally resilient people become aware of their emotional reactions and tend to be in touch with their inner world. Because of this, they are also able to calm their mind and manage their emotions when they are dealing with negative experiences.

This type of resilience also helps people maintain a sense of optimism when times are tough. Because they are emotionally resilient, they understand that adversity and difficult emotions won’t last forever.

A way to build or cultivate emotional resilience is to practice mindfulness meditation. If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness meditation practice, you can read my article: “How to practice mindfulness meditation.

Another way to cultivate emotional resilience is to possess high emotional intelligence. You can also read my article: Emotional Intelligence Elements if you want to learn about how to raise your emotional intelligence.

Client: This is great! I’ll absolutely read your articles on mindfulness meditation and emotional intelligence. Because I really want to hone the emotional resilience skill.

Coach Atip: Sounds good. Once you can master mindfulness, you’ll then develop self-awareness and self-awakening. If you’re interested in creating your self-awareness, you can also read my article: “What is self-awareness and how important is it?

Client: Thank you very much for sharing these valuable resources with me. As a new-world leader, I think I’ll need to master the resilient skill in addition to other leadership skills.

Coach Atip: Yes, especially if you want to become a transformational leader, it’s really a must for you!

And we’ve come to the last type of resilience.

Social Resilience

Social resilience, which may also be called, “community resilience”, involves the ability of groups to recover from difficult situations. It involves people connecting with others and working together to solve problems that affect people both individually and collectively.

Aspects of social resilience include coming together after disasters, supporting each other socially, becoming aware of the risks that the community faces, and building a sense of community. Such responses can be important during challenges such as natural disasters that affect communities or large groups of people.

A good example of social resilience is… our multi-national collaboration and support against the COVID-19 pandemic in a global scale, country scale and local community scale.

A way to build or cultivate social resilience is to seek for support and also provide support, cooperation, and collaboration among people in your team, your group, your organization/company then expand to your community ranging from small scale like your local community to bigger scale like your country to the biggest scale like the world as a whole.

Client: Thank you very much for educating me on the types of resilience and how to cultivate resilience in me.

Coach Atip: It’s my utmost pleasure to do so.

To me, “Resilience is about getting back up every time we fall. We can get back up because of our strong will. Strong will to live and strong will to thrive!” 

After my client and I finished our What defines resilience and how to cultivate it in me?discussion, we continued on with our coaching session as per schedule.  

If you’re interested in discussing or being coached on resilience, leadership, emotional intelligence, mindfulness meditation and spiritual topics, we can get in touch via my homepage @ Home – The Best Coach International (thebest-coach-international.com)

Empower you to succeed and live a fulfill life,

Coach Atip
Advocate of ‘Coach-Facilitator-Mentor-Strategist-Diplomat’ skills and self-transcendence leadership