As I look forward to resuming this column and thought about the last five years, I wanted to ask: Think back to 2018, or even early, 2019 – what was your life like? What kind of changes do you see, now, in how you handle relationships, work, or mundane everyday routines? This does not mean we dismiss changes over time, in whatever context they may appear. Getting older, accumulating different experiences, making new connections, losing others, are all what passage of time brings. But we all lived through an unexpected period of illness, quarantine, working “remotely,” isolating, masking, or vaccines, concepts we may have been aware of but not necessarily partaking in.
Our relationships were affected by what was going on both individually and around us. Many of us had losses – I will not forget the patient who had a Friday late afternoon appointment, who called to say he was going to the ER, and the next day, receiving a call from his wife that the medics could not revive him, a person who was just starting to deal with his sexuality. Or the paraplegic who had gone through so much and was taking classes online and looking forward to graduating. Both were in their 40s. Too young, too soon.
So, I wonder: What is the difference between resilience and perseverance? The dictionary defines “resilience” as the ability of a person to adjust or to recover readily from illness, adversity, or major life changes. Perseverance is steady persistence in the course of action, a purpose, a state, especially in the face of obstacles or discouragement. My interpretation of these two similar human potentials would be that resilient people make changes in their own behavior, and that persistent people look more toward accommodating external variables in pursuit of a singular aim. Let’s put these in the relationship framework: Think of a couple, one introvert, (I), one extravert (E). “I” may be perfectly happy staying home, reading a book, and even enjoying the isolation. The “E” wants to go out, choosing the vaccine / mask protection, and be social. I know couples that fit this! Within the bond of living together, if each wants the other to do it “their” way. If perseverance is the dominant tendency, you end up with conflict. On the other hand, a resilient attitude could lead to discussion and compromise; say, doing some social events together while not disapproving of time spent at home.
May you all have physically and mentally resilient days.
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.
Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577