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Start How Do We Adapt To Adversity?
30 December 2013

How Do We Adapt To Adversity?

Estimated reading time Time 2 to read

This week José Antonio Lopez Guerrero shares with us part of his radio program in Spanish radio RNE, “Entre Probetas” (Among Test Tubes), where he explains what resilience is: our ability to cope with adversity.

Control, self-esteem, optimism and acceptance are some of the resources we use to face difficult periods in our lives.

A study published in the magazine Journal of Happiness Studies by a team of psychologists from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid identifies some factors that allow people to adapt reasonably well when they have to face extreme situations of stress and adversity.

The study was carried out on 171 Spanish and Mexican adults aged between 18 and 87, who had lived through difficult situations: separation, loss of a job, death of a loved one, or a foreclosure. There were no differences between the two groups.

The negative effect of damaging events may be eased through personal and social resources that we acquire during our lives, the study argues. These resources are a sense of control (being able to influence the results of events), self-esteem (appreciation of oneself), optimism (expectation that in general things will turn out well despite the setbacks) and acceptance, or capacity see adversity from a different outlook.

In addition to these there are two new resources that have to do with the social dimension of being human: support from a social network around us and the search for emotional support in this social network made up of friends, family, neighbors or acquaintances.

These psychological and social dimensions of being human work together and act as a “vaccine” against the emotional distress provoked by adversity. Remaining optimistic and knowing when to accept positively facts that are inevitable maintains our emotional equilibrium. Added to this set of human dimensions is what is known as a resilience model. This name is given to the quality of being able to recover from adversity. It may serve as a guide for planning preventive or curative interventions that support people going through difficulties.

If you want to listen to the original content (in Spanish only), You can enjoy it here.

José Antonio López Guerrero

Microbiology Professor at UAM (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid). Researcher and Director of the Scientific Culture Department of the Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Center

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