Resilience building in Life: Theory explained

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Resilience building: this article explains what resilience building is and why it can help you in your personal and professional life. The article contains some examples of situations in which resilience is important and practical tips to get started with improving your resilience. Enjoy reading!

What is Resilience building?

Resilience building is a concept that has received increasing attention in psychology and other fields in recent years. Resilience building involves developing the skills and attitudes necessary to maintain a positive outlook, manage stress, and learn from experience, even in the face of setbacks or difficulties.

These skills include emotional regulation, cognitive flexibility, problem solving, and providing social support.

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Definition of resilience building

Resilience can be defined as people’s ability to adapt and cope with adversity or stress, and to recover from challenging experiences.

The science of resilience is an interdisciplinary field that seeks to understand the underlying mechanisms and factors that contribute to resilience.

Building resilience can be valuable in both personal and professional life as it can improve the ability to manage stress, maintain focus and productivity, and weather change.

For example, people who are more resilient are better able to deal with job loss, relationship problems or health problems.

In the workplace, resilience building can help adapt to organizational change, cope with work-related stress, and maintain high levels of productivity.

The concept of resilience building has gained even more attention during the COVID-19 period, which has created unprecedented challenges and uncertainties for individuals and communities around the world through lockdowns and restrictions.

Building resilience and positive psychology

Building resilience is closely linked to Martin Seligman’s positive psychology. Martin Seligman is considered one of the founders of positive psychology, a branch of psychology that focuses on the study of human strengths and happiness.

In his work, Seligman emphasized the importance of building resilience as an essential part of positive mental health.

He suggested that resilience can be developed through various practices and techniques, such as developing optimism, focusing on one’s own strengths, and building positive relationships with others.

Seligman’s theory of learned helplessness also contributes to the understanding of resilience.

Learned helplessness refers to a situation where an individual feels powerless to change their circumstances, even if there are opportunities to make changes. This feeling of powerlessness can lead to feelings of despair and hopelessness.

However, Seligman’s research also showed that individuals can learn to overcome learned helplessness by developing a sense of control over their lives and learning to believe that their actions can make a difference.

Why developing resilience is critical to success in your personal and professional life

Resilience is an essential component of personal and professional success. It refers to an individual’s ability to adapt and cope with stress, adversity and challenging situations.

Building resilience can help develop a positive mindset, improve problem-solving skills and become more adaptable to change.

In today’s fast-paced and uncertain (business) world, the ability to be resilient has become increasingly important. In personal life, building resilience can help you cope with difficult situations, such as breakups, financial challenges, and health issues.

Once resilience is developed, people are better able to manage stress, regulate their emotions, and maintain a positive outlook on life. They are also more likely to learn from experiences and grow from setbacks, rather than being defeated by them.

In the workplace, building resilience is critical to success. It can help manage work-related stress, maintain high productivity levels and adapt to organizational changes.

Building resilience can also improve the human ability to communicate effectively, collaborate with others, and maintain positive relationships with colleagues.

In today’s competitive job market, resilience is a highly sought-after skill. Employers value employees who are resilient because they can handle challenging situations, manage stress effectively, and maintain a positive attitude.

Developing resilience can therefore be an asset to the career growth and development of many employees.

In the following sections of this article, we’ll explore what resilience is and how it can be developed in your personal and professional life.

The science behind resilience

Research has shown that resilience is a complex and multifaceted psychological concept that is also influenced by various biological, psychological and social factors. Some of the main factors related to resilience are:


Studies have suggested that genetics play a role in resilience, with certain genetic variations associated with greater resilience to stress.

Brain function

Research has shown that specific brain regions and neural pathways are involved in resilience. For example, the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for executive functions such as decision-making and self-control, is believed to play a key role in regulating emotional responses and coping with stress.

Coping strategies

The way individuals deal with stress and adversity can affect their resilience. Effective coping strategies may include problem solving, seeking social support, and positive reformulation.

Social support

Social support from family, friends and community can provide a buffer against stress and strengthen resilience. This may include emotional support, instrumental support (such as help with tasks or resources), and informational support (such as advice or guidance).


Research shows that having a growth mindset, meaning that challenges can be overcome through effort and learning, is associated with greater resilience.

Techniques for building resilience

Building resilience involves developing strategies and techniques that can help people improve their ability to adapt and cope with stress and adversity.

Some of the key strategies and techniques that are effective in building resilience include:


Mindfulness means being aware of the present moment with openness and curiosity, and without judgment. Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, reduce stress and improve emotional regulation, which can increase resilience.

Self care

Taking good care of yourself is essential to building resilience. This may include getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, being physically active, and engaging in pursuits and activities that bring joy and relaxation.

Cognitive restructuring and resilience building

Cognitive restructuring involves challenging negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to stress and emotional stress. By reframing negative thoughts in a more positive and realistic way, individuals can improve their emotional well-being and resilience.

Building social support

Having a strong network of supportive relationships can increase resilience. This can include family, friends, colleagues and community members. Participating in activities that promote social connection and support, such as volunteering or joining a support group, can also be helpful.

An example of resilience building in practice

An example of resilience in practice could be a person who has gone through a difficult life experience, such as the loss of a loved one, and has subsequently built resilience through various strategies and techniques.

For example, the person may have used mindfulness practices to regulate emotions and reduce the stress associated with the loss, as well as building social support through seeking help and support from family and friends.

This person may also have worked on cognitive restructuring by changing negative thoughts about the loss to more positive and realistic thinking patterns. Ultimately, this person has built resilience and is able to get on with life and adjust to the new reality.

This is an example of resilience in action, applying strategies and techniques to help build resilience and deal with difficult situations.

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Now It’s Your Turn

What do you think? Do you recognize the explanation about resilience? Do you consider yourself resilient? What do you do to develop more resilience? How do you react to stressful situations? What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced lately? Which tips in this article do you find useful? Or what tips can you share with us?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Aldrich, D. P. (2012). Building resilience: Social capital in post-disaster recovery. University of Chicago Press.
  2. Seligman, M. E. (2011). Building resilience. Harvard business review, 89(4), 100-106.
  3. Vanhove, A. J., Herian, M. N., Perez, A. L., Harms, P. D., & Lester, P. B. (2016). Can resilience be developed at work? A meta‐analytic review of resilience‐building programme effectiveness. Journal of occupational and organizational psychology, 89(2), 278-307.

How to cite this article:
Janse, B. (2023). Resilience building. Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero:

Original publication date: 07/27/2023 | Last update: 07/12/2024

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Ben Janse
Article by:

Ben Janse

Ben Janse is a young professional working at ToolsHero as Content Manager. He is also an International Business student at Rotterdam Business School where he focusses on analyzing and developing management models. Thanks to his theoretical and practical knowledge, he knows how to distinguish main- and side issues and to make the essence of each article clearly visible.


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