What Is Resilience, Anyway?

You know that life can be pretty tough sometimes. Problems that you face may be severe, ranging from significant changes at home, to being bullied, to the death of someone close to you. These things can be really painful to you and to others. Each person who suffers from really rough times responds differently. Some can get pretty low and stay there, while others seems to be able to bounce back. Why is that? Those who bounce back are using the skills of “resilience.”

Resilience is the ability to adapt well in the face of hard times. The skills of resilience are used to bounce back from big, as well as little, stressors, by processing and managing tough situations and calling on available support. People who haven’t developed strong resilience don’t deal as well with challenging situations and can get pretty distressed by them. The skills of resilience can be learned anytime in life. Even if things seems to be going well for you, it’s good to work on building your resilience skills for a time that you may need them. 


People who are resilient have:

  • Feelings of competence
  • A belief that there is always something one can do to manage one’s feelings and cope
  • Positive social relationships
  • Impulse control
  • Problem solving skills
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • A healthy lifestyle
  • Goals, aspirations, dreams, a sense of purpose
  • Life-affirming spiritual, religious or cultural beliefs
  • Knowledge about when and where to get help
  • A sense of humor
  • Comfort with ambiguity
  • A sense of responsibility
  • A positive outlook
  • A sense of oneself as a survivor rather than a victim
  • A positive moral compass
  • Tolerance for differences in people, ideologies and beliefs

Protective Factors: The Building Blocks of Resilience

Every day you make choices that may seem inconsequential to you, but are actually building your core strengths in resilience by “cultivating protective factors”. It sound complicated, but its actually pretty simple. Protective factors are the things around you, resources and conditions that are available to you. You might notice protective factors at home, at school, in your community, and amongst your friends. By increasing your protective factors and reducing your risk factors, you can start improving your well-being. 

Learn where to look for protective factors

Basic Needs For Life


Which of the following basic needs do you feel are being met for you?  If you aren’t getting these needs met, where can you go, what can you do? 
What steps might you take to strengthen yourself?

  • Health: physical, mental, emotional
  • Safety: home, school, community, a stable environment
  • Relationships: positive, loving, supportive interactions with family, peers, friends, neighbors,  teachers and other trusted adults (clergy, school administrators, law enforcement personnel)
  • Competence: intellectual, physical, social, having responsibilities such as taking care of pets
  • Life Skills: decision-making, problem-solving, anger management, conflict management,   sobriety, self-care
  • Control: a sense of autonomy, empowerment, boundaries, expectations
  • Connection: life meaning or purpose, personal growth, spirituality, seeing oneself in the Big Picture, hope for the future, cultural and religious beliefs that support self-preservation

Some of us may think we have very little control over whether these needs are being met or not. If that’s true for you, it’s time to talk to someone you trust and get help. Your school and community have the resources that will help. Once you learn what they are and how to access them, you can begin to make good use of them.

If you are starting to feel depressed, there are a number of things you can do to make yourself feel better. Live your life well. Build your resilience and developmental assets. Learn more about resilience.

(Adapted from the American Psychological Association)

You matter.
You can get help.
Take control and take care of yourself.