Resilience training, how does it work? 10 test questions

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Zoe comes from the Philippines. She books a coaching session and has two issues and a clear goal. She wants to become more resilient. But she doesn’t know what resilience is exactly. “Something like inner strength,” she says, a bit unsettled, pretty much describing the term resilience.


Professional concern

Her first topic concerns the fact that she still hasn’t quite arrived in Germany. The second theme is more about verbal resilience. She wants to learn how to fight back better with words. Zoe is newly married and moved from the Philippines to Germany a year ago. There she left a good job as a web designer. She also left behind many friends and loving parents.

Here in Germany, she now works in a café. The job is not wrong, but she has to work a lot of overtime. Her boss requires her to always be ready to step in when other colleagues can’t. Therefore, she has little time for herself. So she can’t plan her vacation properly.

Wishes and needs

She would most like to go to the Philippines in the summer. In general, she misses the satisfaction she usually felt back home, both at work and at home. There she could influence her life and had a good feeling about it.

She only ever tells her family and friends in the Philippines the good news. She leaves out everything bad because she doesn’t want to show weakness. In her home village, she is a role model -the one who makes her way in a wealthy country. Everyone looks up to her.


Private concern

Zoe’s second problem area is in the private sphere. She has successfully completed a German course and is now still participating in a language exchange. She meets with a so-called tandem partner, whom she helps to improve her English, while she continues to practice German with Zoe. After a while, however, her tandem partner Mareike begins to consider Zoe a close friend and would like to do more business with her. Zoe doesn’t really know how to fight off these desires without hurting Mareike.

At some point Mareike also more or less invites herself to a meeting that was actually only planned for Zoe and her Filipino friends. The evening becomes unpleasant for Zoe and she feels a great anger towards Mareike. In retrospect, she wonders what the best reaction would have been and how she could have an honest talk with Mareike for once.



1) Assistance Life Coach
2) History of the concept of resillience
3) Resilience in psychology
4) Conclusion: Resilience can be learned
5) Am I Resilient? Evaluation of the 10-point test
6) Workshop Resilience


1) Assistance from the life coach


Anaysis professional concern

It is clear from Zoe’s account that she experienced her time in the Philippines as resilient. There she felt a clear satisfaction and was able to influence her life, i.e. to have a positive effect on it. For example, she herself cites two important factors for resilience, optimism and self-efficacy.

Zoe is a little surprised because some things she didn’t associate with resilience. By inner strength, she rather understands that it is important to stay cool and to take negative experiences well. The fact that resilience, on the contrary, also means seeking help and talking openly about needs and feelings is new and at the same time relieving for them.



After our conversation, she explained to her boss that summer leave was necessary for her. He was not pleased about it, but finally agreed. Later, she also has the courage to say no when it comes to overtime. She understood that her boss and colleagues appreciated her and accepted it, even if she didn’t fill in every time.

Also, in her spare time, she has started to get back into web design, her true calling. She is aiming for a career change this year and would like to work as a web designer again. She understood that, on the one hand, it takes some time to get used to a new culture, but that, on the other hand, it is also impossible without self-determination.


Analysis private concern

We were also able to tick off the second problem area. We talked about the importance of looking at your own needs. This includes setting boundaries and not avoiding conflict. Zoe felt rhetorically unable to work out the conflicts.

But we found a solution. Zoe sincerely thanked Mareike for the language exchange. However, Mareike’s suggestion for another meeting was kindly cancelled by her without giving any reasons. Zoe has realized how important it is to her that no one violates her values. To do this, she must listen to her intuition and learn to say no in a friendly way in certain cases. As a result, her inner rage has also subsided.

Meanwhile, her family and friends in the Philippines have also noticed that she is now much more open, relaxed and authentic. Zoe reveals more about herself and can also respond more to the problems and concerns of others. By building her resilience, Zoe is also more aware of her strengths, which include empathy skills and network orientation.


2) The history of the concept of resilience

In 1971, Emmy Werner presented her so-called “Kauai” study, which is considered a pioneering work on resilience in psychology.

Emmy Werner conducted a longitudinal study on a Hawaiian island beginning in 1955, scientifically following nearly 700 children for more than 40 years. Their life path was documented, so to speak. One third of these children grew up in difficult circumstances. The prognosis was that they would grow up to be rather unhappy adults.


Success despite adverse circumstances

Thus, one-third of this “problem group” managed to grow into contented and happy adults. They were successful and acted in a self-determined manner. Their happiness was based on clearly defined life goals and a healthy self-image.

There are some factors that probably led to resilience in this group. Today, they are still emphasized as effective protective factors in resilience training:

1. intact reference persons/intact network
2. assuming responsibility (helping siblings or in the community).
3. Social skills (social intelligence in communication).
4. Conscious focus on strengths (use of resources).


3) Resilience in psychology today

Resilience is the ability to deal with certain stressful situations in a goal-oriented manner, even in times of stress. This means that in a crisis, you don’t panic or become paralyzed with fear. A resilient person can draw on certain protective factors.


Resilience is mental resilience that enables people to cope with stressful life circumstances.

Resilient people are generally more likely to see problems as challenges. They also recover more quickly mentally and physically from stressful experiences. A resilient person can quickly return to the pre-crisis state mentally and emotionally.


What situations are experienced as stressful?

– the loss of a friend or family member
– Relationship problems or even a new relationship
– Pressure to perform and the unfulfilled desire for recognition
– a move
– professional reorientation or even a promotion
– a burnout



Those who are resilient act from a sense of self-efficacy. This means that he trusts in his abilities and is confident that he will achieve certain goals despite all adversities.

However, experiencing oneself as self-efficacious is only one of many protective factors that give one the feeling of having a positive influence on one’s own life. In general, protective factors are basically resources such as: learned skills, particular strengths, positive attitudes(mindset). An intact social environment is also part of this.

These resources (sources) can be rediscovered and activated in psychotherapy or together with a life coach. Protective factors (resources) are particularly valuable if we want to become more resilient.


Protective factors

1. self-worth and self-perception: creates conditions for resilience
2. self-efficacy: the experience that we have influence on our lives.
3. self-determination: regaining control in life
4. acceptance: the conscious understanding that we cannot control everything.
5. communication skills: helps in conflict resolution
6. empathy ability: strength through so-called social skills
7. coping: stress management that regulates emotions
8. optimism: teaches how to deal with successes and failures in a goal-oriented manner
9. joie de vivre: values such as gratitude and contentment have a balancing effect.
10. network orientation:create from small talk to in-depth conversations(sense fulfillment).


4) Conclusion


The resilient person does not exist

Resilience is not a panacea for all crises. Nor are resilient individuals invulnerable or unemotional. There is simply no such thing as a resilient person. Everyone is exposed to risk factors in their lifetime.

Examples include: Bereavement, lack of social contacts, loneliness, bullying or unemployment. The number and severity of risk factors on the one hand and the combination of protective factors on the other are decisive.

Resilient people can respond more flexibly to changing situations. They manage to cope with the pressure of stress because they have at least some protective factors to fall back on.


Resilience can be learned

Unfavorable (starting) conditions do not necessarily lead to failure and unhappiness for children and young adults. Resilient children have certain characteristics that keep them from breaking down due to difficult circumstances. On the contrary, with the help of various protective factors, they can even rise above themselves. Resilience is therefore not innate, but can be learned. Even adults are still able to do this without any problems.


5) Am I resilient? – The 10-point test

(1) I feel like a director of my own life. I have goals and know which path to take to achieve them.
(2) I have friends and acquaintances around me who are good to me and who support me when I am not doing so well.
(3) I am not easily ruffled in conflicts, even when things get stressful.
(4) If a project at work goes wrong, I can put it behind me pretty quickly; after all, there are always failures as well as successes.
(5) I manage to listen to my needs even in difficult times
(6) When things don’t go so well, I still have a good dialogue with myself and am not unnecessarily critical or despairing.
(7) Even when I am under stress, I manage to be devoted to others. I share myself and do not reject others.
(8) I do not avoid conflicts. Things that really bother me, I address.
(9) When I’m not doing so well, I manage to fall back on beautiful moments that I’ve experienced, and I’m confident that I’ll experience such moments again.
(10) I trust in my talents and abilities and know what I can do.


Resilience Test – Evaluation of the 10-point test

You have answered less than 3 questions positively
: You have a low resilience. Under difficult circumstances, you could possibly find yourself in a life crisis. Then it would be important to get help in time.

You have answered between 3 and 7 questions positively:
You have a rather average resilience. It would be worthwhile to work on other protective factors as well.

You have answered at least 7 questions positively:
You probably have enough protective factors to cope with difficult situations.


6 Workshop Resilience – more mental strength

In the workshop, it becomes clear how to become more resilient.

The workshop focuses on 3 key factors that create more resilience:

1. higher self-worth: improve self-esteem
2. self-determined life: Finding ways out of external determination
3. intact social environment: improve social skills


© Timo ten Barge [13 .04.2022]

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