The difference between stoicism and resilience

Let us not confuse resilience with stoicism, or toughness.
     A resilient person might endure hardship, but will recover. That’s what resilience means: having the capacity to recover from hardship. Resilient people might express their pain by talking about it; they might cry and express so much emotion it scares the pants off the rest of us. But they recover.
     A stoic, or tough, person can endure hardship without revealing pain. That stoicism doesn’t mean the person can bounce back afterwards and recover. It doesn’t mean the person is resilient.
     A man might be stoic his entire life. He might endure hardship and worry, day after day, desperately hiding his pain, believing that if he were to reveal his suffering he would be seen as weak and unworthy, and would be letting himself, his family and his manhood down . . . and in that ‘weakness’ he would feel shame so damning, so overwhelming, it would split his world apart.
     At least, that’s how it feels to him. That’s the threat. And so, he continues to hold in his pain, day after day until finally, mercifully, he dies of natural causes. ‘He was a tough man,’ others might say. ‘A hard worker. Never complained. There aren’t many men like him left.’
     Or, he doesn’t die. Instead, he cracks. He suffers a breakdown no one sees coming. ‘What happened?’ they ask. ‘He seemed to be coping. Who would have thought?’
     Or, he doesn’t die. Wonderfully, he seeks help, and gets it. He not only flourishes,  he keeps his stoicism. This time, however, his stoicism comes not from his ability to hide his pain, but from his ability to deal with it. He has become resilient.
     Of course, a degree of stoicism is good to have. For example, we don’t want to burst into tears in awkward circumstances. However, if we develop resilience (the ability to deal with our pain and recover) we tend to develop stoicism as well. Why? Because knowing that we will recover from the pain makes that pain easier to bear. That makes us stoic.
     Not everyone who cries and talks about their pain is resilient. It is not the ability to express our pain that make us resilient, it’s the ability to deal with our pain. Expressing it is just one way to deal with it.
     Further, a person resilient in one area of their life may not be resilient in another. For example, someone who is physically resilient, as tough as wombat stew, may not be emotionally resilient. Or vice versa.

Q. ‘Are there other ongoing innate needs?’
Yep. You might already be satisfying the other ongoing innate needs. The needs discussed in this book are the need to feel that we can handle life, and the deep need to belong.
They are two of the big ones many people lack.

Q. ‘If I apply the umpteen keys when will I notice a change?’
It may take a year or two, perhaps more.
  ‘What?!’
The keys to resilience aren’t snappy catch phrases that are applied in five minutes. You will need to absorb their lessons gradually and apply them consistently over time. You don’t turn an ocean liner around in five minutes, and you are not going to change your life in five minutes.
  ‘But two years?!’
Those two years will come quickly. Also, it depends on how long it takes you to adopt each key. On an intellectual level you might easily grasp the precepts presented, but for you to fully believe them and for them to become an integral part of the way you live your life takes time.
   ‘Two years is too long.’
You might already be applying most of the keys to resilience, in which case, you’re halfway there. You won’t notice the changes happening, but one day you will look back and see that you have changed. You will see that you have created a more confident, accountable person. You will gauge your happiness and see that your effort has been rewarded.
The changes you will be making don’t rely on willpower, but on awareness – a useful quality to possess in life.

Q. ’If I apply the umpteen keys to resilience, how much will I increase my core happiness?’
Enough to be pleased with the difference. To expect a complete transformation in your happiness levels may be unrealistic.
     Recall a time when you were elated: you won a contest or just received a promotion. Would you hope or expect to maintain that feeling throughout your everyday life? No! Now imagine you are outside playing a game, but it’s nippy. You want to enjoy yourself, but keep being reminded of the cold. If it were just a couple of degrees warmer you could forget about the chill and enjoy yourself. A small change could make a big difference. Or, think of a cup of coffee. The difference between a regular cup of coffee and a great cup of coffee can depend on a few drops of milk. Again, a little thing can make a big difference.
      In the same way, if you can increase your core happiness even a little, your whole life will change significantly.
     Ready? Let’s start.

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