The Three Core Factors That Can Make You More Resilient

Underlying our posts is research we have done on the core factors that produce resilience. There is a potpourri of things that have been identified in published articles as being important to resilience. Our research was designed to find out whether many of these things were functionally the same things, but under different names.

Our results, after extensive research, showed that there were three core factors that determine resilience. These core factors have been an underlying influence on our posts so far, and on our approach to teaching people how to be more resilient.

The factors are:

  1. Having skills that enable you to sooth and relax yourself and attitudes that are positive.
  2. Being temperate, kind and self-supportive in the ways you evaluate yourself and your achievements.
  3. Taking the time and effort to understand your reactions to distress and to express them in ways that are helpful to you, without alienating others.

So far we have talked, in various ways, about the first factor, resilience-promoting skills and attitudes. Things like arranging for contact comfort and soothing sensory stimulation are resilience skills.  Having positive attitudes (we have so far focused on optimism) also helps you be more resilient.

The second factor has to do with how you evaluate yourself and how reasonable you are with the demands you make on yourself. Being too self-critical or perfectionistic will make you more vulnerable, and thus less able to limit distress. If you do not learn how to limit that impact you may well amplify it, as so many people do.

The third factor is knowing (or learning how) to pay careful attention to how you really feel about things that are stressful for you, and finding a way to express your feelings as fully as possible without alienating other people.

Resilient people do better than can reasonably be expected in difficult situations. They also tend to be more successful, happier, more effective, and healthy. For a long time this exceeding of reasonable expectations was taken as the very definition of resilience.  Our work has been about what actions underlie such remarkable performance. What do people labeled as resilient actually do that is different from those who are vulnerable and tend to collapse even in the face of relatively minor challenges.

The great value of focusing on what resilient people do, is that it becomes very clear that less resilient people can be taught to do these helpful things. They just need to know what to do and to be guided to practice the skills and build the habits that make the needed changes.

The hope is that those who tend to collapse under stress, many of whom have been very close to my heart, can learn some basic “secrets” of those who take stress in their stride, the naturally resilient .

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