“Be More Resilient” Is The Worst Kind of Gaslighting Out There

5 min readJul 30, 2021
An screen capture of a Reddit discussion spurred on by an original GIF from Reddit user: u/aku88

I was sitting at my desk listening to a ministerial statement by Chan Chun Sing, as he presented how the horrific event on 19 July at River Valley High School unfolded. It is an event that has shaken the country tremendously. As Minister Chan continued on, he addressed the importance of building up further support structures to support the mental health of our students.

Among the important string of measures rolled out, from “deploying more teacher counsellors”, strengthening the “Character and Citizenship Education Curriculum” and teaching both students and teachers to “differentiate normal stress from distress and mental illness”, there was a quick reference to increasing the range of experiences for students to be able to build up their resilience(ChannelNewsAsia, 27 July 2021).

In the context of what had transpired, it made me wonder:

When can we draw the line between an issue of a person’s resilience levels versus acknowledging that the system/culture is the issue itself?

At this juncture, I want to highlight that nothing in Minister Chan’s speech insinuated that the students’ responses were a result of a lack of resilience. It simply made me wonder as an educator, how much we can truly prepare anyone for difficult moments in life by focusing on building resilience, while completely ignoring the issues with a particular system in which the person operates in.

Grit and Resilience

Ask any educator about resilience, and many would refer you to Angela Duckworth’s book “GRIT: Why passion and resilience are the secrets to success”. Her study has been wildly successful — you can also watch her TED talk on this.

These two words are often used synonymously. According to psychologists, the difference between grit and resilience is as follows:

The American Psychological Association (APA, n.d.) created a useful resource titled The Road to Resilience. In it, the contributors define resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors.”
Grit is the engine that…


Linguist. Writer. Mum. Currently navigating life with intense sleep deprivation, and learning how to still do what I love - teaching and parenting.