Resilience (George A. Bonanno)

Extract ~

Many people are exposed to loss or potentially traumatic events at some point in their lives, and yet they continue to have positive emotional experiences and show only minor and transient disruptions in their ability to function. Unfortunately, because much of psychology’s knowledge about how adults cope with loss or trauma has come from individuals who sought treatment or exhibited great distress, loss and trauma theorists have often viewed this type of resilience as either rare or pathological. The author challenges these assumptions by reviewing evidence that resilience represents a distinct trajectory from the process of recovery, that resilience in the face of loss or potential trauma is more common than is often believed, and that there are multiple and sometimes unexpected pathways to resilience.

“All emotions, including sadness, are designed to be short-term solu­tions. If we remain in a constant state of sadness or feel sad for too long a time, we run the risk of ruminating and withdrawing from the world around us. If we express too much sadness, we begin to alienate the very people whose help and support we most need. ...There is an advantage, the research shows us, in being op­timistic.  People who cope well tend to have an indelible belief that things will somehow turn out OK. They also tend to be confident.
They believe that they will be able to exert at least some control over the outcome of even the most difficult life events. This is not to say that optimistic people believe they can undo the past or stop certain things from happening. Sometimes, even the hardiest of individuals are initially stunned after a tragedy. Nonetheless, fueled by their deep-rooted sense that they can and should be able to move on, they manage to gather their strength, regroup, and work toward restoring the balance in their lives.”

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