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Can Resilience Be Learned?

Have you ever wondered why, following a traumatic event, one person may develop PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) while another person does not? A key difference between these individuals could have something to do with resilience. The underlying question, however, is can this be a learned behavior? According to research, it can, but the matter is complicated.

According to American and Canadian researchers, resilience is defined as follows: “Resilience has been characterized as the ability to ‘bounce back’ from adversities, ‘bend, but not break’ under extreme stress, handle setbacks, and persevere in spite of ongoing stresses and even when things go awry.”


Does This Definition Lead to Learned Behavior?

When coping with any situation, there are varying degrees of resilience required, depending on the individual and their coping skills. For example, an individual who can handle times of war with extreme levels of resilience may develop PTSD when a sexual assault occurs when they return home. There are many reasons why this could be as the context of an incident often informs how a victim reacts. The reason for this could be based on a culmination of factors such as the difference in location, the personal nature of sexual assault, or the strain of re-acclimating to civilian life. It’s hard to predict how resilient someone may be in a given situation.


What Do We Know Definitively?

One of the things we do know definitively is that resilience can be improved when people learn new ways of dealing with their stress. These efforts are particularly important in the early stages of recovery and when individuals are first released from holistic treatment centers. It is no mystery that PTSD will develop when individuals aren’t able to handle situations they’re faced with, so they need as much support as possible. Therefore, when people are in recovery, it’s important for them to place themselves in a supportive environment immediately, as a means of improving resilience.


Practice Meditation Following Recovery

A successful practice following holistic treatment is meditation. It not only helps with stress management, but it also aids in maintaining focus and staying in the present. Through the act of meditation, you will develop a sense of purpose, clarity, and meaning. You will also help yourself make positive changes to your brain’s function and structure.