The creation of resilience through nurture

Something really resonated with me when I read this piece on resilience. Working with NewmanFrancis, we are passionate about creating resilient and empowered communities. But is resilience reliant on the nature of the individual or community, or can it be determined by nurture?

There are a handful of people in my life that I admire for their composure,empowerment and ultimately their resilience. Interestingly, when I contemplate these people, it is often the case that they seem to possess these traits despite experiencing adversity and at times extreme hardships. But is this resilience regardless of, or a product of, their circumstances? This article points out that resilience is never tested in those who have not had to face significant obstacles in their life. Resilience, or the lack of it, only emerges at times of vulnerability.

Resilience goes hand in hand with perception. Those who perceive an event as traumatic are generally less resilient than those who regard the same event as a chance to grow and learn from. Either way you look at it, your perception in this sense is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Respond to an obstacle as a challenge and you empower yourself to accept it, learn from it, and as a result, grow from it. If on the other hand, your reaction is in defence and you see the obstacle as a threat, you are more likely to be adversely affected.

In Werner’s study examined in the article, the children who displayed resilience considered themselves as the ‘orchestrators’ of their own fate, believing that their achievements were as a result of their own actions rather than their circumstances. This determination of resilience can be observed in the communities that we work with. Regeneration projects can be disruptive, unsettling and frightening to the local people, but they can also be exciting, motivating and serve to strengthen the community.

This article concludes with the suggestion that resilience can be taught, and that cognitive skills can be learnt over time to create resilience where there previously was none. This conviction that resilience can be nurtured underpins the work that we do. We are passionate about empowering communities to embrace change, and to actively work together to ensure that they are the orchestrators of their own neighbourhoods, their own lives, and ultimately their own fate.

Lisa Stelling