How Does a Person Become Resilient?

A number of factors contribute to a person’s ability to be resilient when faced with adversity:
(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.

Personal factors that help build resilience

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-identity 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.

Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at, a website that helps teens get through tough times. 

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