What is Resilience?


Resilience is the capability to “bounce back” from life’s challenges and regain prior functioning. There is an art to developing resilience founded upon social connection to others and the fostering of supportive relationships. Resilience allows a person to be flexible when facing hardships, adapting to new circumstances and growing from the experience. Creating a resilient community means coming together as a collective to address adversity and enhance well-being. 

Resilience Factors


Resilience factors, commonly referred to as protective factors, are personal qualities or environmental conditions that advance one’s ability to manage and overcome stress. These factors play a crucial role in assisting people during life’s most challenging moments. Listed below are some of the characteristics frequently found in resilient individuals and their relationships.


The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University constructed the “InBrief: What is Resilience?” video to provide a concise overview of resilience and the conditions that make it possible. Some of the leading experts in child development showcase a working definition of resilience while illustrating the importance of interactional influences in its advancement. This video could serve as an informative introduction to resilience and facilitate curiosity in adopting future insight into its potential, scope, and possibilities.

Personal Qualities

  • Optimism: An optimistic outlook on situational circumstances and the surrounding world. Being positive doesn’t mean simply mean “looking at the glass half full,” but goes deeper into one’s view of themselves and others.
  • Coping Skills: The development and practice of healthy coping mechanisms for managing stressful instances. Coping strategies are essentially a positive outlet for handling one’s emotions without pursuing harmful or impulsive behaviors.
  • Problem-Solving: Adopting effective methods of resolving problems within one’s life while having a high regard for the consequences or benefits of one’s actions.
  • Community Engagement: Participating with local groups and organizations in improving the welfare of the collective through events and activities.
  • Post-Traumatic Growth: The ability to interpret adversity as a transient occurrence which has the potential to be a source of learning or growth (i.e. “finding meaning in suffering”).
  • Self-Care: Prioritizing one’s health and well-being by adopting a plan of action for relaxation and growth.
  • ResourcesAccess to resources that meet one’s basic needs (nutrition, housing, healthcare, etc.) and pursuing opportunities that support one’s overall wellness.
  • Social Support (emotional, informative, instrumental): A social support network composed of relationships that offer information, encouragement, compassion, and empathy. These relationships should be founded upon mutual trust and a shared love for each other.
  • Interpersonal Stability and Safety: Living in a household that serves as a secure base that resembles a loving source of security and consistency.

Building Resilience

For some individuals resilience may appear to be hardwired into their existence and simply a part of “who they are.” However, resilience is a method of interacting with the world which is formed over a period of time and fueled by social exchange. Resilience isn’t some trait people are born with but rather a personal quality that can be learned and advanced in both children and adults. Building resilience doesn’t require a specific talent or intelligence but mandates the need for curiosity, awareness, and introspection. Listed below are some of the key concepts of constructing and reinforcing resilience. 

This video moves from explaining the concept of resilience to understanding the methods for creating and fostering resilience’s occurrence. Making resilience more pronounced can be done by adopting individual life changes and enacting collective progress in social conditions and the environment.

  • Relationships: Fostering and strengthening supportive relationships within one’s various aspects of social connections (family, friends, partner, colleagues, etc.). Enhancing existing relationships with loved-ones by acting as a “buffer” for their stress and asking them for assistance when its needed. Establishing appropriate boundaries where these bonds are reasonable for both parties. Relationships should be considered an asset that allow people to be authentic and vulnerable together.
  • Autonomy: Developing a sense of freedom in controlling one’s perception of reality and the ability to make conscious life choices. People have a tendency to give away the power they possess in navigating the direction of their life’s journey. Making an effort to realistically evaluate the situation and base decisions on what produces the best potential outcomes.
  • Mindfulness: The act of being present in the moment and becoming aware of one’s internal self (physically, emotionally, cognitively) and their external surrounding environment. Mindfulness can be something as intentional as meditation and grounding exercises or as simple as briefly gravitating one’s mind to what’s happening right now.
  • Coping and Self-Care: Elevating positive coping strategies and adaptive skill-sets that reduce the power of distress and promote relaxation. Each person needs to take the time and energy to concentrate on fulfilling their own needs and desires.
  • Self-Reflection and Perspective: Analyzing the interaction among one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to identify strategies for correcting sources of harm and promoting happiness. A person can often times be their own worst critic which frequently tends to create more distress and a sense of hopelessness. It could be beneficial to have compassion for one’s self by acknowledging their value and worth as a human being.
  • Community Involvement: Taking the initiative to become a part of something bigger than one’s self by establishing a presence within a cause or rejoining a cultural tradition. A community is encompassed with various different opportunities for seeking help and being of service to others. A feasible goal could be to achieve a sense of balance where one has a reciprocal relationship between themselves and the groups around them.
  • Universality: Understanding that one is not alone in their struggles, that others have experienced relatively similar hardships, and there are people who are willing and capable of helping. Adversity can make a person feel alone and isolated but realistically other people have gone through comparable instances. It’s crucial to realize there are people out there who can offer personal insight or advice and possibly serve as a guide to recovery.

ingMore Resilience Resources

For more information on resilience, please further explore other sections of the T.R.U.S.T. website devised for specific populations or concepts. The following general online resources are available and may offer some insight into resilience:

The Road to Resilience By American Psychological Association

The American Psychological Association’s (APA) “The Road to Resilience” brochure offers insight into the concept of resilience and describes strategies that can used to approach its cultivation and growth. Building resilience doesn’t take the same path for everyone meaning each individual may need to construct their own set of steps in facing life challenges and adapting to conditional changes. This brochure showcases some of the common factors associated with resilience, with a strong emphasis upon “developing and using a personal strategy for enhancing resilience,” (American Psychological Association, 2013, p. 2).

The Community Resilience Cookbook By Health Federation of Philadelphia

“The Community Resilience Cookbook” was produced by the Health Federation of Philadelphia, with the purpose of expanding public awareness on the scope and consequences of adversity while instilling the advancement of resilience in communities. This resource dives into explaining the multilayered complexities of adversity and the consequences it manufactures in one’s health and wellness. Elevating the occurrence of resilience is seen as a method to treat adversity, strengthen relationships and create healthier populations. The site gives users access to the “essential ingredients” needed for resilience and a “cookbook” of instructions on how to incorporate these strengths into one’s lifestyle.

Mainstream Books on Resilience

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Suppose to Be and Embrace Who You Are

By Brené Brown

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

By Sheryl Sandberg

Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life

By Eric Greitens

Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness

By Forrest Hanson and Rick Hanson

Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution

By Brené Brown

“Coping with Early Adversity and Mitigating Its Effects – Core Story: Resilience”

“Coping with Early Adversity and Mitigating Its Effects—Core Story: Resilience” is probably one of the best online videos on the topic of resilience. This video not only portrays why resilience is so incredibly important to the lives of families but also showcases how resilience can be fostered and the benefits associated with its presence.