How to Build Resilience in Hard Times

Building Your Resiliency: Part II – Avoiding Learned Helplessness and Changing Your Explanatory Style

Starting in 1967, Dr. Martin Seligman began a series of experiments involving 3 groups of dogs. The first group of dogs were given electric shocks, but were able to press a panel with their nose to make the shocks stop. The second group of dogs were given the shocks as well, but had no recourse to make them stop. The third group was the control and received no shocks.

So the bad news is that having a pessimistic explanatory style can have a big negative impact on your life. The good news is that you can change your explanatory style for the better.

The dogs in the first and third group recovered well from the experiment. But the dogs in the second group, those that had been helpless to stop the pain, developed symptoms similar to clinical depression.

In the second part of the experiment, the dogs were placed in an enclosed box separated by a low barrier over which they could see. When the shocks were administered, all the dogs had the opportunity to easily escape the pain by jumping over the partition, and this is what the dogs in the first and third group did…READ ON

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How to Build Resilience in Hard Times

Many people I know are waiting, patiently or otherwise, for life to return to normal. We are eager for the day when we can again live without fear of a deadly virus that lurks like a stalker, disrupting social and cultural events, travel, education and life’s milestones that once missed, can never be retrieved.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Dr. Viktor E. Frankl

And many people remain crippled by despair over the death of loved ones, as well as lost jobs, businesses, housing, income and even sleep. How, so many of us wonder, are we supposed to cope with so many obstacles blocking our way forward?

One way is to call upon an age-old characteristic that enables us to weather adversity: resilience. Resilience is the ability to roll with the punches, “because if you’re brittle, you’ll break,” said Pauline Boss, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota and author of the recently published book, “The Myth of Closure.” Dr. Boss, a family therapist, educator and researcher, is best known for her pioneering work on “ambiguous loss,” which is also the title of her 1999 book depicting unresolved, and often unresolvable, physical or emotional losses…READ ON

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