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Jul 31, 2020

Bouncing Back from Divorce: the Importance of Psychological Resilience

Divorce Survival

Bouncing Back from Divorce; the Importance of Psychological Resilience

Psychological resilience is an individual’s ability to successfully adapt to life tasks in the face of social disadvantage or highly adverse conditions. Resilience is one’s ability to bounce back from a negative experience and function competently.

Why do some adapt to divorce more readily than others?

Resiliency doesn’t usually come naturally to most people. Some may tolerate stressors better than others. Most people learn their coping skills from their parents’ or through surviving a traumatic experience. Learning by making mistakes and dealing with the consequences or through trial and error make it possible to face other challenges.

What are characteristics of people who do handle life’s challenges successfully?

Resilient people:

• Have realistic expectations of themselves and others. They are able to accept their own imperfections as well as the imperfections of others. They are non judgmental and are able to adapt to the styles of other people.

• Use social supports. They develop and practice good listening skills and exhibit empathy toward others, which, in turn, attracts people with the same gifts. They are able to ask for help. They also tend to be leaders with good self-esteem and self-confidence.

• Practice positive thinking. They see life’s difficulties as temporary rather than permanent catastrophes. They do not engage in self-pity.

• Keep moving forward rather than looking backward. They practice the art of letting go of the past and set goals for improving the future.

• Release anger and resentment. They practice forgiveness and do not retaliate or seek revenge.

• Believe in themselves and a happy future. When facing challenges, they trust their instincts and believe they are stronger after encountering difficulties. They tend to have good self-awareness and problem–solving skills.

• Set goals and implement a plan. In a crisis, they remain calm and focus on useful actions.

• Practice patience over impulsiveness. They realize that hard work brings great benefits. They do not seek immediate gratification.

• Are flexible. They tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty. They also are open to trying different approaches to problem solving.

• Can laugh at themselves. They use humor and playfulness to lighten heavy circumstances.

• Have self-compassion. People who are self-compassionate tend to experience distress without becoming stuck.

Recent studies at The University of Arizona have found that self-compassion is the most significant indicator for lessening divorce-related stress. Texas psychologist Kristen Neff describes self-compassion as “a gentle understanding and accepting of our own flaws, while also recognizing that many others experience similar problems.” The lesson? Be kind to yourself. And be kind to your ex.

©2020 Alpha center for Divorce Mediation