The month of October is an important month for us as a nation. On the 1st day of the month in 1960, we gained our independence from colonial rule and recently, on the 20th day of the month, 2021, our youth found their voice and a movement was born.
Many of us have lost hope in our nation and we have reason to do so. Just this week someone I know died because he was harassed by our men in black. He had been unwell for a while, was just recovering and decided to drive to the hospital, a 30 minute drive from which he never returned. As I was told, on his way back, he stopped on the zebra crossing just before the traffic lights turned red. Immediately, over five policemen surrounded the car citing an offense. In a bid to explain why he stopped and how it wasn’t an offense he began to convulse. The policemen on seeing him in distress fled the scene and the passenger in the car with him had to wrestle him out of the driver seat, take the wheels and drive him back to the hospital they had just left, unfortunately he was pronounced dead on arrival.
There are so many horrible stories just like the one I have told and it is a wonder that we all can function as human beings, despite the trauma and horrors of living in Nigeria. When I celebrate Nigeria, I celebrate not the nation but the people and our ability to thrive in spite of all odds.
We will all agree that what we have gone through and are going through as a nation has wreaked many a nation and if like me you keep wondering how we are able to go through one crisis after the other, stagger around wildly like a drunk, get to the precipice, and manage not to fall over, it’s because we are a resilient people.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “Resilience as the capacity of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress. 2. An ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. “
According to the American Psychological Association (APA) resilience is defined as the process of adapting well in the face of trauma or tragedy, threats or other significant sources of stress (Southwick et al., 2014).
Resilience is something we all have and were born with. It’s the reason why as children we persisted in getting up to walk even though we fell severally. It is, however, true that some people seem to have it more than others though we can all grow and develop it. Those that have resilience naturally are often go getters, they seem to be able to forge ahead in-spite of setbacks and believe in trying until they reach their goals. They are mostly optimistic, enthusiastic about life and view things with a positive mindset.
For those of us in the majority, resilience is developed as a result of trial by fire, our challenges forcing us to develop some backbone and adapt. We have learnt to change with the times, cut our coat according to our material and live life as best as we can in the circumstances.
There are different kinds of resilience
- Physical Resilience- this refers to our physical bodies and how fast it can bounce back from ill health, stress, injuries etc. Physical resilience can be improved by taking care of our bodies, sleep, feeding it with the right food and exercise.
- Mental Resilience- this refers to the ability to easily adapt to negative circumstances. Mental resilience can be developed by being positive minded, the ability to reframe events, being clearheaded and flexible in the midst of crisis.
- Emotional Resilience-the ability to regulate and manage our emotions in times of crisis, calm our minds and downplay our anxieties and fears. Emotional resilience is developed when we are attuned to our emotions to the extent that we understand, interrogate and regulate them.
- Social Resilience-the ability to come together as a group of people after a disaster or calamity. Social resilience is developed when we have a sense of compassion, sensitivity to the needs of others and are empathetic.
Resilience can be learnt and there are techniques that help build resilience and as a result, restore the natural resilience we had as children. These techniques basically work in the mental realm where our thoughts and processing of information takes place and they include:
- Having the right perspective to events when they happen to us. When bad things happen to us, the normal response is to wonder or ask why it happened, the questions we ask thereafter and the ability to reframe the event in our minds helps build resilience.
- Hope in a benevolent God who is good and who is interested in our well being. This has helped me in no small way because a belief in something or someone bigger than me as reassured me of the fact that I am not doing life alone.
- Being optimistic, positive minded and having a growth mindset. There is always a solution to a problem if only we are patient and clearheaded to look for it . “E go better” is a popular refrain of Nigerians and it is the belief that change is possible and that the bad times will pass.
- Focusing on those things within our control rather than things we cannot control.
- Seeing challenges as steps to growth and a detour to something even better than we envisioned.
Resilience is a good thing and it’s something we have in abundance in our country although I am beginning to wonder if there is such a thing as being overly resilient because it seems Nigerians have taken it to the extreme by putting up with all the things going bad in our nation. It is noteworthy also that sometimes even the most resilient of us wish that we do not possess that inner strength that everyone seems to admire and that we may show some weakness from time to time but I guess that’s what makes us Nigerians, the ability to soldier on in the face of senseless, horrific, unjustifiable events with hope in our hearts, a prayer in our thoughts, laughter in our mouths and resilience in our backbone.
We Nigerians are a most resilient people.