Developing Resilience

Have you had an academic or professional setback, failed an exam, lost a friend or loved one, had an accident, been rejected? How much of your advising time is devoted to working with students who are on probation, have been dismissed, failed to get into a competitive major, or are dealing with illness, homesickness, or other setbacks? You probably answered “yes”, and “a lot” to many of these questions which means hey, you’re human and a typical advisor. We are all universally connected through our shared experience of difficulty and failure. Good news though, resilience can be cultivated in ourselves and others. Here’s how.

In their book, Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges, Steven M. Southwick and Dennis S. Charney provide a range of strategies for developing resilience which include,

1)     Learning how to regulate your emotions

2)     Adopting a positive but realistic outlook

3)     Becoming physically fit

4)     Accepting challenges

5)     Maintaining a close and supportive social network and

6)     Observing and imitating resilient role models

Each of the recommended strategies provides a means for either reducing stress or encouraging personal growth. For example, there are two approaches to regulating emotions, cognitive reappraisal and mindfulness meditation. Southwick and Charney explain that cognitive reappraisal is a means by which “individuals reinterpret the meaning of an adverse event so that they see it as less negative”. As a result, physiological and emotional reactions may be more easily modulated. Mindfulness meditation, or the practice of turning one’s attention to the present moment instead of dwelling in the past or jumping to the future, may also help strengthen resilience and reduce stress. Advisors are encouraged to consider how they might use these strategies to build their own response to stress and encourage better coping in students.

Retrieved from Mindset

What is Mindset?

Mindset is a simple idea discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and success – a simple idea that makes all the difference.

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success-without effort.t They’re wrong.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work-brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.

Teaching growth mindset creates motivation and productivity in the worlds of business, education, and sports. It enhances relationships. When you read Mindset, you’ll see how.

BACK TO Practice:

What is process praise and how is it practiced? How does process praise help build resilience?

Who are your resilient role models?

What strategies do you use to help students develop resilience?

Go Further


Stanford: The Resilience Project

Carol Dweck: The Power of believing that you can improve



Evidence Mounts That Mindfulness Breeds Resilience

The Road to Resilience: American Psychological Association

Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges, Steven M. Southwick, M.D. and Dennis S. Charney, M.D.


Southwick S. and Charney D. (2012). Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges, Cambridge University Press.

 What is Mindset, retrieved from