When obstacles are encountered at unexpected turns in the life journey an individual has two options; to show resilience and get going or to give up. The pandemic situation prevalent since last two years has exhibited beyond doubt that people who had the inner strength are the ones who coped with it in a much better way.
From where does this inner strength comes from? How does one develop resilience? Is special training required?
Youth and the resilience….
The problem lies in the way children are brought up in the Indian families. Most children live in a very protective environment where every need is catered to by the parents/ elders. The coping mechanism will be weak if the children are not allowed to handle stressful situation.
The children in most Indian families are not allowed to make even basic decisions. Elders are there to give the helping hand at the slightest hint of trouble. The ability to cope with adversities is generally poor in such children. They run out of ideas when pushed to a corner. They start looking for help moment as soon as they are faced with a problem.
Life of most kids up to 18 years of age is spent between the school and the coaching classes. Most of them have no hobbies. It is not just the professional studies but the hobbies too which help in developing the mental resilience. During the pandemic when stress was at the peak due to various reasons it was the hobbies which helped many not just maintain sanity but also generate income.
Qualities of patience and perseverance are a must to sail through an adverse situation. Unfortunately, today’s youth seek instant results which may not be always a possibility. Adversity can take any form like a bad situation, or a bad boss and patience is needed for handling both.
Developing resilience, the Army way….
I am reminded of the “Commando Course” I attended as a young officer in the Army. It is a test of human resilience where physical and mental endurance of every individual is tested to the limit day and night. There is no set timing for food or rest. At the end of the training, I realized that resilience is more a matter of mind. Off course a fit body matters but it is the fit mind which carried it through all the adversities. When every bone was aching and wanting to give up it was the mind which kept pushing it.
When even the mind seems to be giving up the buddy** is there to pull you through. (** Each participant is allotted one buddy from among the other participants at the start of the course, and both have to perform every task jointly).
The resilience is not built overnight. It is the systematic training every ‘to be officer’ is put through in the training academy which makes him/ her realize the inner strength.
The balanced training is focused at developing both the physical and mental fitness. This is what strengthens the self-belief and gives each one of them the confidence of making decisions in adverse situations.
The soldiers have a strong bond of belonging with each other and the organisation. They are mentally assured that they will never be alone in an adverse situation. Help will always be there when they need it. This is what gives them the confidence to perform fearlessly in operations.
In short it is the mental & physical fitness, decision making capability, strong inter-personal bond and control on emotions which gives the soldiers resilience to face any adversity.
Suggestion to the elders/ teachers….
Some ways the elders and teachers can help developing resilience in the children are: –
– Give the kids freedom to make decisions. Ownership of the decisions will help in developing confidence and making right choices.
– Do not just rely on theories, put the students through practical problem solving to sharpen their logical thinking and analyzing skills.
– Encourage the children to develop network. A strong alumni base instils a sense of pride in the students and gives them confidence of excelling in life.
– Guide the children to develop a creative hobby which will remain with them life-long. Good hobbies help in fighting stress.
– Inculcate in the kids the golden qualities of patience and perseverance. Do not jump to fulfil all their demand as soon as they are raised.
– Lastly, imbibe in children, good values which will prevent them from taking short cuts or making wrong choices when faced with adversities.
My experience has shown that most people when faced with an adversity in whatever form accept it as part of their fate. Most choose to just hang on despite getting hurt every day emotionally. The fear of failure, lack of self-belief holds them back from making a bold decision of changing the path.
Taking an uncharted path may open more avenues, re-invent/ re-discover. and move on a path he/ she always longed for. It may help in finding the ever so elusive purpose of life.