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. These include such things as (1) having people in your life who care about you and help you through tough times, (2) having people who believe in your abilities and strengths and who have high expectations for you to be successful, and (3) 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 but direct communication techniques, maintaining a positive attitude and having a sense of humor when faced with challenges;
- Problem-solving skills. Being able to stop and think before reacting, being able to generate alternative solutions, and 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 and hope for the future such as having personal goals, strong values and connectedness to others.
And 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!
This video from our we can help us campaign, has more information around building resilience and overcoming negative thoughts:
For more information
For more about Big Brothers/Big Sisters and to locate an agency in your area, check out the Big Brothers/Big Sisters website.