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Resilience is a way to describe the quality of something that goes back to its original form after it has been bent or stretched. It is also a popular term used to describe a psychological quality in people. Resilience has been described as “the capacity to cope with change and challenge and bounce back during difficult times.” You may have heard the term ‘bouncing back’ used in this sense.
As you can see, the idea of resilience focuses on how we deal with stressful situations and adversity – the more resilient we are, the more able we are to manage adversity.
Experiencing the Tough Times
Ups and downs are a normal part of life and there are many times when people feel stretched or under pressure. Challenges in life can range from easy to manage and causing a small amount of stress, to very stressful, such as a trauma or crisis.
What might seem like a mild pressure to one person may very difficult for another. Likewise, what seems unbearable to one person may be managed fairly easily by another. For example, you may have heard someone’s story and thought to yourself “If that was me I don’t know how I would have coped!” Or you might have thought “What’s the big deal, what are they so worried about?”.
What Influences Resilience
Factors that influence how someone experiences a challenge or trauma include:
Given that everyone has different life experiences and different resources, it’s important not to judge people on how they cope or how long it takes them to bounce back from a stressful event. It is also equally important not to judge yourself about how you are reacting to a stressful situation. However, it can be helpful to examine how you cope, acknowledge your needs and develop new strategies to get through the tough times.
Research suggests that there are certain factors and circumstances in life that promote resilience. Some of these factors include:
Because we all come from different backgrounds and have different life experiences, not everyone has had the ideal circumstances to develop resilience. So it’s good to know that it’s possible for anyone to learn from adversity and to develop positive ways of dealing with things.
Through dealing with adversity, many young people have learned to build resilience and have discovered courage they didn’t previously know they had. While people can’t be resilient all the time, it is important to remember that resilience is something that can be learned and improved on, and support is available to do this.
Resilient people often do a number of things.
Strategies for Promoting Resilience
Here are some ways resilient people act that may provide ideas for you to develop your own resilience:
An important step to building resilience is to develop self-awareness and to understand your emotions and how you react. This will help you build on your existing strengths and set goals for further growth. For example, it might be useful to understand:
At Kids Helpline, we hear many inspiring stories about how young people find ways to cope with adversity in their lives. Young people tell us about many skills and strategies they have learned to respond to challenging situations. They also tell us about how they have overcome adversity and taken care of themselves. You can read other people’s stories or tell us your story.
1. Mind Matters Booklet 2005 Enhancing Resilience 2: Stress and Coping http://www.mindmatters.edu.au/verve/_resources/EnhanceResilience_2.pdf
2. Riding the Waves: A Guide to building resilience in 10 to14- year- olds 2006, Australian Drug Foundation.
Last Reviewed May 2015