Building Resiliency

What is resiliency?

Resilience is the ability to thrive in spite of adversity. When you are able to regulate your emotions after a stressful event and come out okay on the other side, this is resilience. It is your ability to ‘bounce back’ from stressful external events.

How do I become more resilient?

A number of factors contribute to a person’s ability to be resilient when faced with adversity. We call these protective factors. Some protective factors exist outside of our control, based largely in our support system and environment. 

These include such things as: 

  • Having people in your life who care about you and help you through tough times
  • Having people who believe in your abilities and strengths and who have high expectations for you to be successful
  • Living in a community that provides opportunities for meaningful participation, including being involved in decision making, contributing your talents to the good of the community, and other forms of service

Other protective factors have to do with personal strengths, skills and abilities that buffer against stress and help an individual manage stressful situations. These are things that are in your control and things you can learn and develop.

Personal Factors That Help Build Resilience

Some skills to help manage stress and increase your ability to be resilient:

  • Positive social skills. Open, respectful and direct communication techniques, maintaining a positive attitude and having a sense of humor when faced with interpersonal challenges
  • Problem-solving skills. Being able to stop and think before reacting, being able to generate alternative solutions, weighing consequences of decisions before you act, and openness to seeking support when needed
  • Feeling secure about yourself. Having a sense of self-worth, and having a clear sense of self-identify so that you step away or create some physical or psychological distance from things that pull you down or give you stress
  • Having a sense of purpose. Feeling a deeper meaning in your existence that drives you, or having hope for the future by having personal goals, strong values and connectedness to others

If you find that you don’t have people in your life who provide the kinds of external supports that help build resilience, try to be proactive in searching out mentors who care about you and believe in your potential. Some high schools and colleges have mentoring programs. Some of these programs may be linked with career planning and the college application process. Church youth groups, athletic teams, and community sponsored programs like Big Brothers/Big Sisters programs could be potential sources of support.

So even if you don’t have all the external protective factors in your life – you can still develop skills and attitudes and take actions that will help you become resilient against the stressors that you encounter. It might be harder for you than someone who has a readymade support system in place, but it is important to remember there are still things you can do to help yourself!

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Acknowledgements: This article was partially developed by youth and staff for

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