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The Dark Side of Resilience
How Misuse of the Term Can Justify Mental and Emotional Abuse.
Resilience has become a buzzword today and is a critical trait to recognize success in both personal and professional life. It is often used to describe the ability of individuals to bounce back from adversity, overcome difficulties and succeed despite the odds. However, the concept of Resilience has been misused, and it is vital to recognize that human beings are not inorganic materials that can withstand pressure without consequences. The idea of Resilience is often used to justify abuse, and as a result, people feel compelled to remain quiet in the face of adversity. This article explores that being adaptable is different than Resilience and the importance of setting boundaries and prioritizing self-care.
In material engineering, Resilience is defined as the ability of a material to return to its original shape after being deformed under stress. However, the human psyche is not like an inorganic material. While inorganic materials may be able to return to their original shape after being deformed, human beings must actively work to adapt and grow in the face of adversity.
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According to the World Health Organization, "resilience is the ability of individuals, communities, or systems to adapt and recover from stress and adversity." This definition highlights the importance of adaptation and recovery and emphasizes the role of stress and adversity in shaping the human experience. Resilience is not a binary trait, and it is not a permanent state of being. It is a process that requires effort, energy, and intentionality.
First, it is crucial to understand what Resilience means. According to the American Psychological Association, Resilience is the "process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress." It is an essential trait that can help people overcome challenges, cope with difficult situations, and thrive in adverse conditions. Resilience is not inherently harmful and is a valuable trait to possess. However, when used as a justification for abuse, it becomes destructive.
Unfortunately, Resilience is often used to justify abusive behavior. In some workplaces, for example, employees are encouraged to be resilient and to remain silent in the face of harassment or abuse. This dangerous mentality can result in severe psychological and physical harm. When people are pressured to be resilient, they are often denied the opportunity to express their needs and to set boundaries. As a result, they can become trapped in a cycle of abuse, which can have long-term consequences for their mental health and wellbeing.
Adaptability versus Resilience
In contrast to Resilience, adaptability is a positive trait closely linked to self-care. Being adaptable means adjusting to new situations and responding to change effectively. It means recognizing when something is not working and making necessary changes to improve the situation. Flexible individuals are not afraid to set boundaries and to say no when necessary. They understand that boundaries are required to maintain mental health and wellbeing and are not afraid to enforce them.
Setting boundaries is a critical aspect of self-care, which is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's physical and mental health. Boundaries define the limits of what is acceptable and what is not and help preserve an individual's time, energy, and resources. Without boundaries, it is easy to become overwhelmed and to feel trapped in adverse situations.
The Misuse of Resilience: Real-Life Examples
Consider high-pressure work environments, such as the legal profession, where many lawyers are expected to work extensive hours, often leading to burnout and mental health issues. A recent study found that over half of all lawyers experience depression symptoms, and nearly one-third suffer from anxiety. In many instances, lawyers are expected to display resilience, bearing work stressors without complaint. This can create a toxic work environment that negatively impacts mental health and wellbeing.
A second real-life example of the misuse of Resilience is in the context of interpersonal relationships. In some cases, people may be pressured to be resilient in the face of abuse or neglect from their partners. This can lead to a cycle of abuse that is difficult to break. When people are pressured to be resilient, they may feel they cannot express their needs or set boundaries. This can lead to feelings of powerlessness and despair.
To counter the misuse of Resilience, it is essential to promote the idea of adaptability and to prioritize self-care. Setting boundaries is critical to self-care and vital in maintaining good mental health and wellbeing. By setting boundaries, individuals can protect themselves from abusive behavior and create a sense of safety and security.
By prioritizing self-care, individuals can build Resilience and adaptability, which are essential for success in personal and professional life. When individuals care for themselves, they can better manage stress, overcome challenges, and build meaningful relationships.
In addition to:
Setting boundaries, saying NO for starters.
Promoting a culture of respect and empathy is essential.
When individuals feel valued and supported, they are more likely to be resilient and adaptable. This means creating an environment where people feel comfortable expressing their needs and setting boundaries. It means acknowledging the role of stress and adversity in shaping the human experience and recognizing the importance of self-care and wellbeing.
As Luciana Pereira, a psychologist, emphasizes, "Resilience is not a one-size-fits-all solution to overcoming adversity. It is a complex process that requires effort, intentionality, and support from others. Recognizing that Resilience does not mean enduring abuse or neglect is important. It means adapting to change and building healthy relationships that promote growth and healing."
In conclusion, Resilience is essential to success in personal and professional life. However, when Resilience is misused to justify abuse, it becomes harmful and dangerous. Being adaptable is different and starts with building clear boundaries. Setting boundaries is a critical aspect of self-care, which is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's physical and mental health.
By prioritizing self-care and promoting a culture of respect and empathy, individuals can build Resilience and adaptability, essential for success in all areas of life. We are not inorganic. We are human beings with complex emotional and psychological needs. It is essential to prioritize self-care and set boundaries protecting our mental health and wellbeing. It is also essential to recognize that self-care is not selfish. When individuals prioritize their own needs, they can better care for others and contribute to their communities.
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