resilience woman jumping puddle

We are drawing on the work of Salvatore Maddi, Suzanne Kobasa and colleagues. They have observed people going through challenging times, even humanitarian disasters. Some of those people emerged, not only healthy and motivated, but stronger than they were before.

The Three Cs of Resilience provide a strategy.

Control

Take control of what you can control. Resilient families and teams develop a plan. Yours might only be a plan for the day, but make it and put it into action.

Include something that gets your plan underway. I like a list of action points with tick boxes.

Develop a medium-term recovery plan. Be specific, even if you have to update the target dates later.

Commitment

Resilient people stay committed to the plan. They'll change it as they go along, but they are always working on their plan.

They're committed to their relationships too. They happily call on others for support and offer help to those who need it. Staying committed to your relationships is vital. Give friends and family, even people you've never met, a gift - the opportunity to help.

Challenge

It's easy to say, but the hardest to do. See recovery as a challenge. See yourself as a survivor, not a victim, because you are. Work on that idea. Develop a swan act - serene on the surface, even if you are paddling madly underneath. Insincere? In an emergency who cares? We can do more for ourselves by faking it till we make it than venting our tensions.

In Christchurch New Zealand, we're rebuilding after an earthquake that killed 185 people. We've had numerous aftershocks. One woman I know is an especially positive person, but is very stressed by even little tremors. She told me me, "I know what to do, but my body won't listen'. It illustrates an essential point: resilient people don't feel instantly confident or relaxed after a traumatic event. It's not a reason to abandon the plan, go it alone or switch off trying to see recovery as a challenge.

Rumination is not helpful

Rumination - going over and over events and your fears - will prolong your feelings of stress. It can be hard to break the cycle, but essential. Immerse yourself in your plan and your relationships.