Recently, I have been talking a lot about resilience. And, yes this often misunderstood concept is something close to my heart. In fact, I wrote an article on it back in 2006 on it and republished some of it here. However, today I am just going to share some knowledge about the concept, so let’s get started…


What is Resilience?

Resilience has been a concept that continues to grow and evolve over the years. Within the dictionary, some definitions of resilience include –

  • “ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or thelike; buoyancy.” ~
  • “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” ~ Google and Oxford Dictionaries
  • “Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress – such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.” ~ PsychCentral

Within the research, resilience continues to prove popular and some of the research indicates –

  • (Resilience is) the universal capacity which allows a person, group or community to prevent, minimise or overcome damaging effects of adversity” ~ Grotberg, 1995, p.6,
  • “…personal resilience strengths are the individual characteristics associated with healthy development and life success” ~ Benard, 2004p.13,
  • “Resilience refers to the process of overcoming the negative effects of risk exposure, coping successfully with traumatic experiences, and avoiding the negative trajectories associated with risks” ~ Fergus & Zimmerman, 2005, p.399, and 
  • “the capacity of individuals to navigate their physical and social ecologies to provide resources, as well as their access to families and communities who can culturally navigate for them” ~ Ungar, Brown, Liebenberg, Cheung, & Levine, 2008, p.168.


Bonnie Bernard’s Personal Resilience Strengths 

In the above definition by Bonnie Bernard, she refers to personal resilience strengths. It is important to note that these personal strengths do not cause resilience, but are the positive developmental outcomes that demonstrate that these innate individual characteristics are engaged (Benard, 2004). The four categories of personal resilience strengths are:

  1. social competence (communication skills; being responsive to others; having empathy and caring for others; forgiveness and compassion);
  2. problem-solving (planning; flexibility; help-seeking; critical and creative thinking);
  3. autonomy (a secure sense of identity; self-worth; initiative; ability to cope; sense of humour); and
  4. sense of purpose (hope for future; personal goals and values; sense of faith; connectedness with others) – (Benard, 2004).

To develop these innate personal strengths and produce good developmental outcomes, young people need to be in a nurturing environment. Some of the environments the young people are involved in include schools, families, and communities (including sporting clubs). A nurturing environment is one where the young person experiences caring relationships, high but achievable expectations, and authentic opportunities to participate and contribute (Benard, 2004).


So What? 

Recognising that we each have an innate ability to transform the challenges of life is a gift. However, the thing is like most things in life, it takes work, practise and action. However, you are worth the effort.


Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insight in to resilience. Do you think developing and enhancing resilience would be useful in young people and also adults? If you have any questions, please feel free to write them below. 

Also, if you liked this article and want to keep learning about resilience and how we can continue to foster resilience in our whole livesplease feel free to join the Life Beyond Elite Sport community by clicking here.


References –

Benard, B. (2004). Resiliency – What Have We Learned. San Francisco, CA: WestEd.

Fergus, S., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2005). Adolescent resilience: A framework for understanding healthy development in the face of risk. Annual Review of Public Health, 26, 399-419.

Grotberg, E. (1995). A Guide to Promoting Resilience in Children: Strengthening the Human Spirit. Early Childhood Development: Practice and Reflections. Den Haag, Netherlands: Bernard van Leer Foundation.

Ungar, M., Brown, M., Liebenberg, L., Cheung, M., & Levine, K. (2008). Distinguishing differences in pathways to resilience among Canadian youth. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 27(1), 1-13.

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