The concept of resilience is a challenging one. It is often worn as a badge of honour with people considered to be resilient being seen as being superior to those who may be struggling with the effects of life’s challenges. At the present time we are all being challenged by COVID-19. It has upended life as we know it, and we are all grappling with it individually and collectively. Many of us are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic on top of experiences of trauma – violence and abuse which may still be ongoing. So how is it possible to consider resilience with all of this happening?
Firstly, resilience does not mean that you don’t have any challenges or that you are never distressed. Rather it is the process of adapting in a positive way to experiences of trauma, adversity or ongoing stress. Resilience is a process of learning and building on your strengths and ways of being. It is a really complex process and depends on a whole range of things including the different risk and protective factors we all have. These can be biological, social, psychological or cultural and they all interact with one another to make us into the unique human beings we all are.
In Blue Knot we speak about being trauma-informed a lot. That’s because we believe that being trauma-informed is the core of the way we all want to be treated, experienced and understood. Being trauma-informed means embracing a set of principles – safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment into all of our interactions. It also means considering each person’s culture, background, system or beliefs and barriers to connection and participation.
The different elements of a trauma-informed approach can help us build our resilience, on our path to healing. Here’s a quote from Helen Milroy, Australian’s first Indigenous doctor and former Australian of the year: ‘Healing is not just about recovering what has been lost or repairing what has been broken. It is about embracing our life force to create a new and vibrant fabric that keeps us grounded and connected … keeps us strong and gentle … gives us balance and harmony, a place of triumph and sanctuary for ever more’. (Milroy, 2013).