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Bouncing Back

Can you dust yourself off and try again?

bouncing backYou’ve got to have bounce. In your hair, in the junk in your trunk and in that part of the brain that reacts to life’s little and not-so-little setbacks.

Shit happens. And it happens to everyone. It’s how you dust yourself off that separates the survivors from, well, the people who smell like poo. And it’s not just us telling you to buck up when things get you down. Psychologists have determined that along with an IQ (intelligence quotient) and an EQ (emotional quotient), we also have a RQ (resilience quotient) – the ability to bounce back from setbacks easily.

Remember when Paris Hilton’s mostly boring but ultimately mortifying sex tape leaked onto the Internet? The heiress could’ve quite easily gone into hiding. Instead, she publicly apologised to her family, made sure she earned money from the sale of the tape and starred in her own reality show, ultimately making her more popular than ever.

And when 18-year-old Caster Semenya was accused of being a man after winning a gold medal in the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Athletics, she handled the humiliating incident like a lady. Never once did she lash out, and was instead quoted as saying: “God made me the way I am and I accept myself.” She refused to give up on her dream and returned to running 11 months later, winning the 800m race at the Savo Games in Finland.

Paris and Caster both exhibit the traits of resilient people: self-confidence, positivity and the ability to laugh at themselves, solve their own problems and turn to loved ones for support. If you’re not someone who reacts well to adversity, Jo’burg-based clinical psychologist Dr Colinda Linde explains how to flip the switch and turn problems into opportunities: “Let go of what you can’t control – the past, future, other people. Rather focus your time and energy on what you can control i.e. your response right now. Be wary of surrounding yourself with pessimists who are always looking for what went wrong, as well as idealists who live in a fantasy world and trust that ‘the universe’ will magically provide answers. Rather spend time with realists – those who acknowledge when things go right, and make a plan and move on when they go wrong.”

Even if you don’t think of yourself as a bouncy person, resilience is something you learn, practise and perfect. Because let’s face it, life would definitely be simpler without hiccups, but it would also be boring. Depending on how you cope with it, adversity is what makes you stronger and helps you grow into the fierce female you were meant to be.

Depending on how you cope with it, adversity is what makes you stronger

how resilient are you?

Take our quiz to find out just how much you’re capable of.

You’ve got a flat tyre for the third time in as many months. What do you do?

  • a. Secretly rejoice because, after two failed attempts, you can finally change a tyre in your sleep.
  • b. Refuse to let it get the best of you and patch up the hole as good as you can until you can get to the nearest garage.
  • c. Wail “Why me?”, break your toe from kicking the flat tyre and call your dad in tears.

You’ve unexpectedly lost your job. Who do you turn to?

  • a. Your mom, best friends and boyfriend. You need support and encouragement to move on from this, and they’re not going to put you down.
  • b. A friend of yours in Australia. At least you can’t feel her judgmental stare via Facebook.
  • c. No one. Not until you find a new job anyway. You’d rather die than have people know you messed up.

You’ve just broken up with another boyfriend and think:

  • a. “No big deal. I’m just that much closer to finding out what I want and don’t want from a relationship.”
  • b. “Why is it that I’m always picking the wrong guys?”
  • c. “I’m never dating again! Relationships are a waste of time and I only ever end up getting hurt.”

Your handbag is stolen in a smash and grab. After the shock wears off, you think:

  • a. “It’s such an inconvenience to cancel my cards and SIM card, but he was obviously desperate and at least I wasn’t hurt.”
  • b. “Thank goodness I left my new Givenchy perfume at home.”
  • c. “I hate this country and I hope karma comes back to bite that loser in the butt!”

You rock up to a house party, only to realise all your friends have bailed and you don’t know a single soul. Your plan of action is to:

  • a. Make the most of your hot new dress and hairstyle, grab a drink and start chatting to the friendliest face.
  • b. Phone to find out where your friends are and join them.
  • c. Leave the party immediately and send your so-called friends threatening SMSes. How rude of them to just leave without telling you!
Mostly A’s:
You’re a bouncing bail

You are without a doubt a survivor. For you, disappointments are just challenges and you believe in yourself enough to make the most out of the situation, learn from your mistakes and move onto bigger and better things. You’re empathetic towards others and go with your gut, helping you to see the positive in any situation.

Mostly B’s:
You’re a rubber band

You’re on the road to resilience. What you lack in self-confidence you make up for by surrounding yourself with people you trust. You’re learning to think on your feet, and when something goes wrong, you look to the outside before blaming yourself.

Mostly C’s:
You’re a paperweight

You could do with a heavy dose of self-confidence. Don’t be scared to look deeper into things, ask questions and seek help in difficult situations. You’re stronger than you think. Don’t always expect the worst or let fear of failure stop you from being your own hero.

Text by Natalie Pool. Photography by Gallo Images/getty images.com. Article taken from the October 2010 edition of cleo magazine.

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