Flourish + Thrive - Resilience

Resilience is one of my favourite things in positive psychology.

When you have resilience in your personal toolkit you have the ability to bounce back from adversity, to be able to deal with a major challenge in life and keep going, and to be able to continue living life. 


the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

As with many things in positive psychology resilience is something that you can develop and build, it’s not just a trait that you are born with. There are many ways that you can use it and increase in it. 

What is resilience?

Resilience is “bouncing back” or resisting to break under pressure. According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of risks the ability to cope with a crisis or to return to pre-crisis status quickly

Resilience exists when a person uses "mental processes and behaviors in promoting personal assets and protecting them self from the potential negative effects of stressors". In other words - psychological resilience exists in people who develop psychological and behavioral capabilities that enables them to remain calm during crisis or chaos, and to move on from the event without long-term negative consequences.

Resilience is an indefinable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise. 

Michael Rutter discovered that resilience is better explained in terms of processes and used the Person-Process-Context Model. This framework makes it easier for researchers to study the correlation between risk and protective factors. Michael Rutter defined six significant predictors of resilience. (1987). They are listed below:

1. Stressors – these activate the resilience process and create a disruption in homeostasis in the individual, family, group, or community. The perception of stress can vary because of the person’s viewpoint.

2. The External Environmental Context – this includes the balance of risk and protective factors in the child’s environment such as school.

3. Person-Environment Interactional Processes – this is the process between the child and their environment. The child either passively or actively tries to understand and overcome demanding environments to build a more protective situation.

4. Internal Self Characteristics – this is the spiritual, cognitive, behavioral, physical and emotional strengths needed to be successful in different tasks, cultures, and environments.

5. Resilience Processes – this is the short-term or long-term resilience or coping processes learned by the individual through gradual exposure to increasing challenges and stressors that help the individual to bounce-back (Richardson, Neiger, Jensen, & Kumpfer, 1990).

6. Positive Outcomes – successful life adaptation regardless of stress, risks, and traumatic experience means that a person has a higher chance of success when faced with negative events later on in life.

(Rutter, 1987)

I believe that resilience is not a magical quality that some have and some don’t. It takes real mental work to transcend hardship. But even after misfortune, resilient people are able to change course and move toward achieving their goals. And there is growing evidence that the elements of resilience can be cultivated.

How Can You Notice It In Your Life?

Resilience is generally thought of as a "positive adaptation" after a stressful or adverse situation. When a person is inundated by daily stress, it can disrupt their internal and external sense of balance, presenting both challenges and opportunities.

However, the routine stressors of daily life can have positive impacts which promote resilience. It is still unknown what the correct level of stress is for each individual. Some people can handle greater amounts of stress than others. Resilience is the integrated adaptation of physical, mental and spiritual aspects in a set of "good or bad" circumstances, a coherent sense of self that is able to maintain normative developmental tasks that occur at various stages of life. It is important to know that resilience is not only about overcoming a deeply stressful situation, but also coming out of the said situation with "competent functioning". Resiliency allows a person is able to rebound from adversity as a strengthened and more resourceful person. 

Strategies To Build Resilience. 

Focusing on looking after your wellbeing can help you deal with pressure, and reduce the impact that stress has on your life. This is sometimes called developing emotional resilience, thus developing your capacity to adapt in the face of challenging circumstances, whilst maintaining a stable mental wellbeing. 

For example, you can:

  • make lifestyle changes
  • look after your physical health
  • give yourself a break
  • build your support network

What do you do to build resilience? How do you remain strong in the face of adversity?  What is the number one tip you have to cope in a challenging situation? Please comment below.


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