How resilience is strengthened by exposure to stressors: the systematic self-reflection model of resilience strengthening

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95 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Exposure to demands is normally considered to drain resources and threaten wellbeing. However, studies have indicated a resilience-strengthening role for stressors.

Objectives: This paper introduces a unifying model, including five testable hypotheses regarding how resilience can be strengthened progressively via exposure to life-stressors.

Methods: We review and synthesize relevant scholarship that underpins the Systematic Self-Reflection model of resilience-strengthening.

Results: The model highlights the importance of a specific meta-cognitive skill (self-reflection on one’s initial stressor response) as a mechanism for strengthening resilience. The Systematic Self-Reflection model uniquely proposes five self-reflective practices critical in the on-going adaptation of three resilient capacities: (1) coping resources, (2) usage of coping and emotional regulatory repertoire, and (3) resilient beliefs. The self-reflective process is proposed to strengthen a person’s resilience by developing insight into their already-present capacities, the limitations of these capacities, and by stimulating the search for person-driven alternative approaches.

Conclusion: This model extends the existing scholarship by proposing how the experience of stressors and adversity may have resilience-strengthening opportunities. The implication of this model is that engaging with stressors can have positive consequences for longer-term healthy emotional development if scaffolded in adaptive reflective practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalAnxiety, Stress and Coping
Issue number1
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • adversity
  • stress appraisal
  • coping strategies
  • post-traumatic stress
  • self-reflection
  • Adversity


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