Meaning-making and resilience: case studies of a multifaceted process
Theron, Linda C.
Theron, Adam M.C.
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Explanations of meaning-making generally prioritise intrapersonal processes. Although making meaning is an intrapersonal process, it is also strongly influenced by person-context interactions and cultural positioning. Nevertheless, the meaning-making literature has paid scant attention to how such interactivity and positioning shape meaning-making. In this article, we highlight the compound character of resilience-promoting meaning-making. To this end, we recount the instrumental cases of Ntando's and Sipho's resilience. The accounts of these black South African students’ positive adjustment to adversity richly illustrate how their lived experiences of a social ecology stimulated multifaceted meaning-making processes. In particular, Ntando's and Sipho's interpersonal experiences and Africentric worldviews gave rise to and/or moderated positive re-appraisal, revisioned goals, purposeful direction, application of spiritual beliefs, identification of benefits, sense-making and reflective problem-solving. Although both their stories drive an understanding of meaning-making as a helix-like process with inter-, intrapersonal and cultural strands, the differences in their accounts of meaning-making stimulate the need for deeper exploration into the complexity of resilience-promoting meaning-making processes.