Training for resilience

a person walking up stepsResilience is about our ability to recover more than our ability to endure. Not everyone is born resilient, it is like a muscle that we can strengthen, a skill that we can develop. Should we then be training for resilience?

We live in a world where we are undeniably, regularly put under some sort of pressure. This pressure can come from at least three different sources – unpredictable natural disasters, personal challenges or living in an oppressive system.  No one expected the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria or the floods in many parts of South Africa.  At some stage we will all experience the personal challenges of illness, accidents, financial constraints, work stress, relational strain and death of a loved one.  Discrimination, injustice, incompetence, neglect, conflicts or violence in a system will prevent the flourishing of all. Some people experience pressure from all areas at the same time. Can we be more prepared? Can we train resilience so that we respond to pressure with unexpected resources?

There are circumstances beyond our control, but others can be changed if we “just” have access to a greater level of creativity and flexibility. These are part of a resilient response. As individuals, we often have more agency to transform our personal situation and affect our areas of influence than we at first realise. A group of people working together can survive through great pressure themselves. They can also rescue others from natural disasters, support those they love through personal challenges and even change an oppressive system. We have experienced the power of a group working together in our personal as well as world history on numerous occasions.

It is never easy. Active citizenship is tiring. It needs both wise words and energetic deeds. Speaking up about the elephant in the room needs courage and attracts attention, often of the dangerous variety. Change-makers regularly get drained and disappear off the frontlines – some do not recover and return. They need resilience as individuals and groups.

On the other end, people who are comfortable with the way things are also need resilience. They may feel threatened by change. They may have even traditionally kept the system going. If fear of the unknown is keeping us in a system that harms others, we need resilience to really hear the others’ point of view, to see the bigger picture, to imagine a non zero-sum world where all could flourish. We all need resilience to adapt to change.

In our diversity work we often battle against an invisible enemy, fear. Fear – of loss, of re-traumatising pain, of psychological humiliation, of personal attack – keeps some people quiet and others outside of the venue where the dialogue is happening. Can developing resilience overcome that fear and make it possible for more people to join the conversation and speak up?

Training for greater resilience can help us face natural, personal or systemic challenges. At some stage we will all feel the pressure. Developing resilience has to happen before we need it in the middle of a crisis.


In March we will be training for resilience in a series of four events on Wednesday evenings, from 19:45 to 20:45:

8 March Our nervous systems and resilienceSeedlings sprouting in new growth

15 March Responding with resilience

22 March Regular habits for resilience

29 March Fuel for resilience – time to fill up!

You can plan ahead by having a look at our calendar for events later in the year (change the date to the month you are interested in or search for the name of a specific session).


  1. I would dearly love to attend. Unfortunately I have another commitment on a Wednesday evening. Please do let me know if/when it is offered in a different slot.

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