Sustainable Resilience

Sustainable Resilience


Sustainable Resilience is about doing well in the long-term in spite of stresses.

Some people call ways of overcoming stress coping, we are going to talk about them as using our resilience.

  • Unsustainable Resilience (aka Maladaptive Resilience or Non-Coping) = Harder for us in the long-term
  • Sustainable Resilience (aka Adaptive Resilience or Constructive Coping) = Better for us in the long-term

Unsustainable Resilience

Unsustainable Resilience describes short-term ways of overcoming stress that don’t really help us in the long-term. Compare this to Sustainable Resilience, where we can adapt or maintain ourselves to do well in the long-term.

We tend to use Unsustainable Resilience for short term suffering, when the stresses have overwhelmed us:

The following are generally examples of Unsustainable Resilience:

  • Denial
    • Telling ourselves the Stress does not exist
  • Avoidance
    • Doing other stuff to avoid thinking about or resolving the stress
    • This can also including Withdrawing, Dissociating, or Escaping
  • Disengagement
    • Stop trying in the current activity
  • Emotional Decision Making
    • Acting when one is angry, hurt, or in a very negative mind-state can lead to more trouble in the long-term
  • Substance Use
    • Alcohol, Marijuana, Opiates, Stimulants or other drugs to change our mind-state
    • This is an artificial and external change and is not sustainable


Sustainable Resilience

This involves adapting to stress in a way that will help us over time. If you grow your Sustainable Resilience, the stresses will have a tough time pushing you down:

The following tend to be useful for Sustainable Resilience when used in a healthy manner:

  • Planning for and anticipating stress
  • Using social supports
  • Maintaining physical and mental wellness
  • Humor
  • Keeping a healthy mindset
    • Positive view of self
    • Engagement and interest in the world
    • Asking for help
    • Avoiding perfectionism

Here are some specific examples with Activities, Mindsets, and Tools we like best.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

This is a specific psychotherapy which has been shown to improve wellness and resilience.

which can be taught over 12-20 hours. It makes us consider our thoughts and behaviors and how these can impact our emotions. In CBT, people can identify maladaptive thoughts and behaviors that lead to maladaptive coping aka unsustainable resilience.

There is good evidence that CBT is as effective as taking antidepressant medications for Depression.

This is not discussed in detail here, but there are many resources on the topic.

Feel free to read about it on Wikipedia here