How to build resilience in hard times

More than children, “we need to focus on adults,” she said. “This generation of parents has no world war to face, no global threat” of this scale. Many parents find it difficult, even though they are worried that some may be protecting their children too much, which could erode their natural ability to solve problems and deal with adversity.

Dr. Boss’s feelings brought to mind my husband and I’s worries in 1980, when our 10-year-old twin sons had to deal with enrollment in a public high school where rampant misconduct and physical threats were commonplace. The boys refused our offer to send them to private school for those tumultuous three years, saying, “What would we learn about life in private school?”

In her new book, Dr. Boss offers guidelines for increasing one’s resilience to overcome adversity and live well despite painful losses. She quotes Dr. Viktor E. Frankl, an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, writer and Holocaust survivor, wrote: “If we can no longer change a situation, we will be challenged to change ourselves.” She advises people to use each guideline as needed, in no particular order, depending on the circumstances.

Find meaning. The most challenging guideline for many people is to find meaning, to make sense of a loss, and if this is not possible to take some sort of action. Maybe seek justice, work for a cause or demonstrate to try to correct a wrong. When Dr. Boss’s little brother died of polio, her heartbroken family went door to door for the March of Dimes, raising money to fund research for a vaccine.

Adjust your sense of control. Instead of trying to control the pain of the loss, let the sadness flow, carry through as well as possible and eventually the ups and downs come less and less. “We do not have the power to destroy the virus, but we do have the power to reduce it syn impact on us, “she wrote.

Rebuilding identity. It is also helpful to assume a new identity in sync with your current circumstances. When Dr. Boss’s husband became terminally ill, for example, changing her identity over time from being a woman to being a caregiver, and after his death in 2020, gradually trying to think of himself as a widow.

Normalize ambivalence. If you have no clarity about a loss, it is normal to feel ambivalent about how to trade. Mar Dr. Boss says it’s best not to wait for clarity; hesitation can lead to inaction and stop life. It is better to make less-than-perfect decisions than to do nothing.

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