Building Resilience

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There are many ways to build resilience. We will present 10 steps for building resilience.

  1. Use your past experiences to guide your present behaviors. It can be useful to be able to deal with negative or positive situations by using one's experiences. This personal baggage allows you to make informed decisions based on how you have dealt with adversity in the past. Life is dynamic. It is constantly changing. So, adjust to these changes and maintain a positive view of the future.
  2. Be persistent in continuing to move forward despite adversity. Sometimes adversity hits us and the only way we can get through it is to stay the course by persevering and continuing to move forward. Remember that some adversities can be easy to overcome, while others require us to try again and again. So, no matter what the adversity, be persistent, stay the course.
  3. Recognize your strengths and use them. We all have weaknesses, but we also have strengths. It is very important, using your past experiences, to set aside poor coping strategies (e.g., substance abuse) and reinforce good strategies (e.g., seeking social support). It is important to realize that seeking help in difficult situations may be necessary and helpful. So, recognize your strengths and use them to cope and specially to overcome obstacles.
  4. Find a purpose in life. Each person has very different goals which can change constantly over time. However, it is important to identify present and future goals in order to use good strategies to achieve them. Think about volunteering, joining a group (e.g., a sport or reading group), finding a rewarding job, etc. When experiencing a difficult situation, adversity, or trauma, setting daily, weekly, or monthly goals that are easily achievable can be a good way to deal with them.
  5. Recognize that your life course is unique. We all have different experiences that shape us. They make us unique. They can make us more or less resilient. So, it is important to remember that resilience is not a stable process; it is a process that is built.
  6. Strengthen your relationships with others. Foster relationships that strengthen your self-esteem and sense of belonging to a group. Trustworthy people can help you overcome difficulties by listening, being compassionate and validating what you are going through.
  7. Take care of yourself. Practice behaviors that make you feel good, such as exercise, good nutrition, adequate sleep, meditation, etc.
  8. Have a positive self-image. Having confidence in your ability to overcome difficult situations can build resilience. Knowing that you can move forward can help you develop positive thoughts such as: "I can do it", "I'm good at school", "I've been through some tough times and I've done well", etc.
  9. Develop your problem-solving skills. You can make lists of possible actions to take during difficult times. Be sure to maintain some logic in developing these strategies. For example, substance abuse is not a solution, but talking to a therapist is.
  10. Be proactive. Do not wait for adversity to pass in time. Do not just think about getting out of the problem. Try to solve the problem bit by bit.

In addition, each person has personal resources that build resilience. These resources can be :

  • Emotional (attachment, humour, friendliness and charm, optimism, sense of acceptance)
  • Cognitive (intelligence, realism, creative imagination, organizational skills)
  • Social (sociability, ethical sense, stable identity, morality, autonomy, self-esteem)
  • Conative (empathy, emotional intelligence, self-motivation, spirituality)

 

References

American Psychological Association. (2012). Building your resilience. Retrieved June 12, 2020, from https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience

Cherry, K. (2020, January 24). Use These 10 Tips to Improve Your Resilience. Retrieved June 12, 2020, from https://www.verywellmind.com/ways-to-become-more-resilient-2795063

Pourtois, J. P., Humbeeck, B., & Desmet, H. (2012). Les ressources de la résilience. Presses universitaires de France.

SCYSPI. (2020). Protective Factors and Resilience. Retrieved June 12, 2020, from https://www.scyspi.org/protective-factors-and-resilience

Wagnild, G. M., & Young, H. (1993). Development and psychometric. Journal of nursing measurement1(2), 165-17847.

Funded by

Vulnerability, Trauma, Resilience & Culture Laboratory
School of Psychology
Faculty of Social Sciences
University of Ottawa

136 Jean-Jacques Lussier, Ottawa, ON,
Canada, K1N 6N5
613-562-5800 ext. 4459
vtrac@uOttawa.ca