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Emotional Resilience and Capacity Building


Guest Contributor:

Denzel Z. Herrera-Davis

Founder of Create the Space

Let’s face it, simply being a person of color in America today is stressful, to say the least—and subjects an individual to a number of psychosocial risks. Resilience is the ability of an individual to successfully deal with, adapt to, handle, cope with, and recover from them.

Individuals or groups are considered “resilient” when they are healthy, despite exposure to a wide range of psychosocial risk factors. Fortunately, resilience is not a trait or gene that’s inherited (although it may partly be a conditioned product of racial stressors). It involves thoughts, beliefs, and practiced behaviors; thoughts and actions that can be learned and strengthened over time.


Emotional Resilience: Contributing Factors

A number of factors are known contributors to emotional resilience, all of which can be developed:

  • Caring and Support: having caring and supportive relationships within the family unit; feeling cared for and supported in the school or work environment; taking time to caring for and nurturing self

  • Pro-Social Interaction / Bonding: engaging in positive social surroundings; being active in local civic, faith-based, or sports clubs outside of work; accepting help and support from those that love, care, and listen to you

  • Meaningful Participation / Contribution: assisting others during their times of need; feelings of being valued and heard in close relationships as well as the work environment

  • Life Skills: honing skills in positive communication, problem solving, and conflict-resolution—and the ability to set realistic goals and take steps to achieve them

  • Honest Boundaries: paying attention to your own needs and feelings; setting and maintaining healthy and honest boundaries for self by standing up for yourself and not letting others take advantage


Emotional Resilience: Capacity Builders

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