During the pandemic it has become a buzzword for successfully steering through adversity. But what exactly is resilience – and can you cultivate more of it?
It was after her block of flats burned down that Sadi Khan thought, finally, things could not get worse. She had married at 19, and for four years her husband had subjected her to horrific violence on an almost daily basis. She had been punched and kicked, financially controlled and constantly told she was stupid; once, a friend arrived at her flat and found her lying unconscious after an attack. So the day she accidentally set fire to her flat while cooking was simultaneously the day she lost everything and the day she started again. “He’s beaten me, I’ve lost everything,” she says. “What more can go wrong?”
Her father arrived the following day, and wanted to take her home. “I think that was the turning point,” says Khan. “When my dad was in front of me, saying: ‘Come home, let me look after you.’ I thought: ‘No, I don’t need looking after. I’m still alive. I burned the flat down, I’m still alive. I’ve been beaten up, I should have been dead five times over, but I’m still alive.’”
Chronic stress wears us out and I think that’s happening to a lot of people during the Covid crisis.
Ask yourself: is what I’m doing helping or harming me?