Hands in a heart shape holding an infinity rainbox. Underneath the words Sandra Bell ND Coach
#12 The danger of resilience…

·        Resilience keeps the status quo

·        Resilience promotes masking which leads to burnout

·        Advocacy and autonomy are needed alongside resilience

Resilience keeps the status quo


Resilience can be defined as the ability to recover or bounce back from difficulties or stress. What this means in practice is that you experience a difficulty or stress, you cope with it, and then potentially have to face the same difficulty or stress over and over again. But being resilient, at least on the surface, you look like you are coping. It means that nothing has to change about the stressor or difficulty, the status quo is maintained.

Resilience promotes masking which leads to burnout


Imagine now that stressor is catching a train to work. You find the crowds overwhelming and the smell of the train carriage causes you discomfort, but you believe you need to be resilient, so you take some deep breaths and focus on your strengths, put on a brave face and soldier on. But over time it chips away at you and the deep breaths and focusing on your strengths no longer work. So you stop being able to go into the office.

Or that stressor could be having to sit in a classroom every day, hearing the buzzing of the lights, and the birds tweeting outside, and noticing the student beside you tapping their pen, all whilst trying to concentrate on what the teacher is saying. Your school does a resilience program which encourages you to overcome your reaction to the stressors and carry on. So the emphasis is on the student coping despite their stress which help maintain the status quo that this classroom environment suits all. But over time their mental health gets chipped away and they get to a point they can no longer go to school, and we wonder why when they have been “coping” all along. 

Advocacy and autonomy are needed alongside resilience

When we think of resilience it is often associated with only positives - like being able to live through stress, recover and carry on. We grin and bear it, or the phrase that came about in Britan in preparation for World War 2 - Keep Calm and Carry On. And maybe this works for some people some of the time. But I think when resilience isn't paired with self-advocacy and a degree of autonomy that it ultimately leads to burnout.

So what would it look like to use advocacy and autonomy along with resilience? I think about my oldest child, and their resilience when they were going to primary school. School was stressful, they were othered because of being autistic and an ADHDer, and despite a high IQ struggled because they also have learning difficulties (dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia) But my goodness did they soldier on, for years. They did try to self-advocate and have some autonomy about the environment they were learning in. They knew when they needed a quiet space or a reduced workload, and to my regret as a parent neither I nor their teachers really listened. So over time they stopped asking, and over time their mental health deteriorated.

If instead the adults in my child’s life (including me) had just listened to them, they could have been better able to truly cope with the stressors of school, and not only look on the surface like they were coping because they were masking. Instead of being resilient and “coping” with the stressors they could have had their stressors reduced, by knowing that people would listen when they asked for time out of the classroom or to have a reduced workload or work explained to them in a different way. They would have felt at least some autonomy over how their day was going to go. And in the end, wouldn’t that have been better for everyone, instead of expecting them just to fit in with the status quo of how classrooms work? I truly think so and it will always be a regret of mine that I didn’t know better sooner, but now I do now better, so I try to do better.

Thanks for reading. What stressors in your life could you add advocacy and autonomy into the mix so you weren’t just relying on resilience?

I'm here; I get you; I got you!


If you'd like to know more, you can go to the Contact page and send me an enquiry – I’d love to hear from you.