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An exercise in assessing your resources for resilience

Resilience is someone’s ability to become happy, healthy and strong again after enduring difficult circumstances such as trauma, abuse, war, or poverty, to name a few examples. Dr. Michael Ungar (2008, 2011), resiliency expert, describes resilience in the following way:

“In the context of exposure to significant adversity, resilience is both the capacity of individuals to navigate their way to the psychological, social, cultural, and physical resources that sustain their wellbeing, and their capacity individually and collectively to negotiate for these resources to be provided in culturally meaningful ways.”

Do you ever wonder why some people can have similar experiences, such as siblings growing up in the same household, but turn out completely different from each other? For example, take two siblings that grow up in an abusive household – one could grow up to be healthy, have healthy relationships, a career, and direction in life, whereas the other one could grow up in and out of the legal system or perhaps homeless, or not coping well with mental illness. If they had the same experiences, why would this be the case?

In his book, I Still Love You: Nine Things Troubled Kids Need from Their Parents (2014), Ungar notes that there are nine things that all children / youth need to be resilient. You can assess your own resources for resilience with the examples provided below for each of the nine items:

1.      Structure

Example: “There are people in my life who expect me to_____________.”

2.      Consequences

Example: “When I don’t meet expectation, I know that ______________ will happen.”

3.      Relationships

Example: “I can reach out to my ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_____________ to get help when I need it.”

4.     Identity

Example: “I feel respected for what is special about me when I’m with / at / doing ______________.”

5.      Power and control

Example: “In my ____________ I get to participate in making decisions that affect my ____________.”

6.      Belonging, spirituality (sense of cohesion)

Example: “At my  _________________ people miss me when I’m not there.”

7.      Sense of culture

Example: “There are places such as ______________ where I can celebrate my culture and beliefs.”

8.      Rights and responsibilities

Example: “When I’m with others at my ______________ I feel treated fairly.”

Example: “When I’m with ______________ I am responsible for myself / others.”

9.      Safety and support

Example: “I am well-cared for by _______________.”

Example: “I feel safe when I’m with / at _______________.”

If you don’t quite have all nine factors in your life, or perhaps any of them, this doesn’t mean you can’t still be resilient! Explore and identify your support sources and decide what might need to change with Galaxy, an interactive tool. If you’re struggling in an unsafe environment, whether at home or at school or in some other way, reach out to a trusted adult or soical worker and ask for help and support. For more ways to get help and other resources, check out the Help section.