Monday, January 18, 2010

Secrets of Resilient People

Everyone goes through tough times. Some people just navigate them better.

'We cried for two solid months.' That's how Deborah Robinson describes the painful period in 2002 when her husband, Jim, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Just 57 at the time, Jim was soon unable to work or drive, and Deborah became his primary caregiver, while continuing to work for the Disney Corporation in Orlando. Yet she survived the inevitable progression of Jim's disease, and his death in 2007, by reframing the situation in the most positive terms possible.

'I decided that we would rise above it, and it would be our finest hour,' says Deborah, 54. She signed up for an Alzheimer's education program, joined a support group of partners of Alzheimer's patients, and asked for help from friends and family members. 'It was a time to focus on the limited number of years we had left and make the best of them,' she says."

Robinson could be the poster child for resilience, the ability to rebound quickly from a crisis or trauma. Highly resilient people don't fall apart—at least not for long. They call on their inner strength and recruit outside resources to keep moving forward. And they tweak their future expectations to fit their new reality, be it the loss of a loved one, a life-changing diagnosis, or a devastating financial blow. "Resilient people are like trees bending in the wind," says Steven M. Southwick, M.D., professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine. "They bounce back." Read the entire article.

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