resilience; relationships; stress; trauma; emotional health; strength;
What is resilience?
In some video games you have to get your character through all sorts of obstacles to the next level, and then do the same sort of things again! On the way you can ‘power up’ by hitting or jumping on something and that would give you the strength to keep going.
Well, life is a bit like that. You go through life trying to ‘get to the next level’, and there are all sorts of obstacles to stop you, and times when you can ‘power up’ to help you keep going.
Coping with everything, keeping on going, and collecting something to help you is what resilience is all about.
What helps you to become resilient?
Where is it that you get your ‘power’?
- A caring and supportive family
- Caring friends who you can trust
- Being encouraged to try
- Setting yourself realistic goals and reaching them
- Being confident in your own abilities
- Being able to communicate with others
- Successfully using your problem-solving skills
- Managing strong feelings like anger.
How to build up your own resilience
If you have all these ‘power builders’, that’s great! But what if you don’t? You can still build up your own resilience and create the kind of caring support that everyone needs by:
- Getting connected. Make friends, get to know people, join in with teams, clubs and organisations. Talk to and help people and allow them to help you.
- Don’t give up. Everyone has to deal with a crisis from time to time. Just go into ‘automatic mode’ and work your way through it. Things will get better. It isn’t easy, but you do get through eventually.
- Change is here to stay – accept it! Of course, it’s unsettling when you feel comfortable with something, then it all changes. Try to see change as a chance to alter the future, not the end of the world as you know it!
- Get good at making realistic goals.
- Make long-term goals, then work out the steps you have to take to achieve them.
- Set these steps as your short-term goals, and work your way through all the short-term goals that will get you where you want to be.
- Remember that being realistic doesn’t mean accepting second best. As you reach each goal, you can aim higher.
- Face up to problems. Think about how you can solve them instead of wishing that they would go away.
- Learn from the bad times. Often people find that they have developed better skills, made new friends and got to know themselves better after they have gone through some crisis.
- Trust yourself. Develop your skills [eg. communication, problem solving, conflict resolving] and instincts, and then develop confidence in your ability to use them.
- Don’t turn every small set-back into a ‘10 act drama!’ Unless of course you are practising to be a stand-up comedian!
- Practise thinking positive thoughts. Always be hopeful of your ability to get through, and that things will improve.
- Look after yourself. Exercise and eat well for a healthy body, and learn to relax.
- Get to know yourself. Some people do this by meditation or writing down their thoughts. It’s helpful to know what your opinions are, and also to reflect on how you handle life, what works for you and what doesn’t.
How you can destroy your resilience
All you need to do is to look at all the ways in which you can build your resilience then do the opposite!
- Don’t connect with others, allow them to help you, care about yourself, develop skills, be positive, face up to problems or have confidence in yourself.
- Do put yourself down, give up, become a loner, neglect your body and mind, be miserable and unhappy.
Then, like the video game you will be knocked out by every obstacle and without the ‘power builders’ you will be out of the game.
Learn, adapt and move on
We need resilience to cope with the challenges life throws at us. Looking at how you have managed and survived past events can help you become more resilient at managing future events.
- What were the bad times?
- How was I affected?
- Who helped me?
- Who did I help?
- Did I overcome obstacles and how did I do it?
- What did I learn that would help in future?
- What did I learn about myself?
Every time you face a crisis, deal with a disappointment, lose someone or something you love, you use your resilience to help you recover and move on with your life.
“Being a resilient person means sometimes being active and sometimes being passive, knowing when to step forward and act, and knowing when to step back, relax and allow yourself and others to nurture your inner self.
Having good relationships with adults and peers, knowing how to keep yourself safe, building stress-busters into your life and getting involved in good stuff makes your life meaningful. It also gives you the inner strength or resilience to cope with whatever life throws at you.”
- Teachers and school counsellors
- Doctors and other health professionals
- The Second Story Youth Health Service (TSS):
Central: 57 Hyde Street, Adelaide
South: 50a Beach Road, Christies Beach
North: 6 Gillingham Road, Elizabeth
West: 51 Bower St, Woodville
Contact TSS via the Youth Healthline: 1300 13 17 19
mobile phone callers: (08) 8303 1691 - normal rates apply
American Psychological Association, APA Help Center – ‘Resilience for Teens. Got Bounce?’:
Australian Childhood Foundation – ‘Kids Count’ web site:
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Youth Healthline on 1300 13 17 19 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).