That’s easy to explain: Coping skills and resilience go hand in hand because the more coping skills you learn and utilize, the more resilient you become. Resilience means using our ability to cope, seeing beyond the current situation, and believing in ourselves that we have the ability to survive challenging times in our life.
How Do You Build Coping Skills and Resilience?
First of all, let’s discuss the concept of resilience. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines resilience as “ an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”. For example, do you continue to do something that does not work for you rather than to make positive changes?
How can you become resilient? In order to develop resilience, you need to learn effective coping skills. First, you must recognize when something does not work for you. Then you must change direction away from what does not work and try something different. This is why coping skills and resilience are so tightly related.
Samples of Coping Skills and How They Relate to Resilience
1. Being Socially Connected For Support
Developing relationships that feel emotionally safe for you are important. When you feel most vulnerable it’s important to be with friends and family that you trust and feel comfortable being around.
You feel valued by them and that they have your wellbeing in mind. This builds resilience because you feel you valued by others and not alone in your life experiences.
2. Acceptance That Bad Things Happen in Life
Life has its ups and downs in it naturally. Acceptance must include a belief that you can recover and be happy again, which is what usually occurs. It can involve deliberate, accidental or just unfortunate circumstances, but in general, things can most often improve.
This is a choice that everyone needs to make. Life presents up and down experiences for everyone. How we experience this depends upon whether we accept this concept or not. But this is why coping skills and resilience go hand in hand in terms of surviving tough times in life.
3. Having a Sense of Control (Not Feeling Victimized)
You have likely heard the comment “Life Happens”. This means that everyone’s life has ups and downs: unexpected money coming in, a new baby, or a promotion. Or life can bring disappointments and high hopes that soon get dashed, sudden loss of your good health or the unexpected death of a loved one.
We don’t always feel in control of what happens in our life. However, that in no way means that we must become a victim either. Life happens and we move on from a negative situation to the best of our ability.
A sense of control means that we can learn from negative experiences, accept the reality of what “is”, and try to make our life better in the future.
4. Believing in Yourself and Your Ability to Survive a Difficult Situation
Resilience means believing in yourself. In order to achieve this, you must examine your strengths. How have you gotten through difficult situations in the past? What were those qualities that allowed you to move forward despite challenges?
Once you realize your strengths and understand how you have gotten through past difficult times you will build a repertoire of strengths in your toolbox to pull from when needed. This belief in yourself follows you through life. This belief also enables you to get through tough situations and to move on with your life.
For example, people who divorce have a choice: to believe that they will always be alone for the rest of their life, or that in time they can meet someone special in the future. You need to believe in yourself, your values and your abilities.
5. Ability and Willingness to Ask for Help
One of my favorite sayings states “we don’t know what we don’t know, and therein lie all of the possibilities”. If we fear or avoid learning new things, then we limit what we can know about life. And this means we will have a much smaller toolbox from which to draw.
We need to be open to developing new coping skills if we want to be resilient in life. When we accept that we can’t possibly know everything, we also accept that we can learn new things, which builds strength in us. It means our ego is not involved, and we realize that asking for help when we need it signifies true strength.
People who refuse to accept the help they need, feel the most insecure of us and often need the help the most. Those who continue to learn coping skills will have the most resilience in their life. Remember, coping skills and resilience go hand in hand.
6. Learning From Your Past Builds Coping Skills and Resilience
Those who refuse to learn from their past will continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. Some people will go as far as to expect a different outcome, even though they continue the same mistakes.
Those who learn from their past mistakes have an opportunity to experience better outcomes from their decisions and life choices. They use their coping skills to build resilience in dealing with difficult times.
No one is perfect, but we all can choose to learn from past mistakes. That also enables us to forgive ourselves and others. That represents the humanness in us all.
Those who learn from their mistakes move ahead in life. Those who don’t will experience life just like the great movie called “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray. If you haven’t yet seen it, you get a real treat. The poor guy keeps waking up to the same negative experiences each day, day in and day out and struggles to find a way to make it stop. He finally succeeds when he changes his perspective from bitterness and derision to gratitude and support.
That movie symbolizes those people stuck in not making positive changes when they need to. Bill Murray’s character was clearly stuck in being a selfish person. Like all of us, he had a choice in the matter. We always have some kind of choice, even if we don’t like any of them.
7. Creating Meaning and Purpose in Our Life
This provides a reason for us to be alive and to feel worthy of good things in our life. It gives our life meaning.
Having purpose and meaning helps us to make sense of the world when it does not result in how we want it to be. It enables us to cope with difficult situations, especially those situations out of our control. Purpose and meaning creates a belief that our life on Earth can make a difference and that we have the capability to do so. It doesn’t have to be on a large scale.
When we believe we can make a difference in something we feel we have value and meaning in our life. This value helps us to cope with difficult times, especially when we can’t understand why bad things occur in the world or in our personal life.
It builds in us a sense of resilience, that we have the capability to cope with difficult things in our life, and that we also have the coping skills in which to do this. Here again is the important relationship between coping skills and resilience.
Closing thoughts: As you can see, the more coping skills we have in our toolbox, the more resilient we will be in difficult situations. It’s a matter of being open to learning the skills, as well as being willing to use them. The choice is always going to be yours.
For further reading on Coping Skills and Resilience:
Characteristics of Resilient People by Kendra Cherry.
Resilience Theory: What Research Articles in Psychology Teach Us By Desheada Reid