Factors that Protect You Against Adversity

How can you protect yourself against adversity? Well, just as there are certain food supplements that promote the health of your immune system, there are also factors that make you less vulnerable on a mental level.
Factors that Protect You Against Adversity
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Written and verified by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Last update: 20 July, 2022

Resilience is a product of genetics, but also of your experiences and your good work. It’s a virtue that can be lost or not developed because circumstances prevent it. If you could take a mental analysis in the same way that you can take a blood test, your levels of resilience would speak about the strength of your mental health in the face of threatening internal and external events.

There are also factors and variables similar to resilience that make you stronger mentally and in a healthy way. They’re important, which is why we want to talk about them in this article.

Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes ”.

-Francis Bacon-

Woman thinking
Psychological flexibility favors adaptation to change and coping with adversity.

Factors that protect you against adversity

1. Flexible personality

One factor that protects against adversity is having a flexible personality. Being flexible is a conscious decision. It’s determined to a great extent by training and experience.

A flexible personality is characterized by adaptability. If you’re mentally flexible, you possess enough mental openness to adapt, both mentally and emotionally to situations that clash in some way with what you desire. It’s a great virtue, but it’s not inherent.

Some people have had patterns of education and experiences that allow them to be more open and adaptable in the face of life. Others have become closed and adopted rigidities in their character because they’ve found that defending themselves above all else has helped them overcome problems. Making the change to a flexible mindset isn’t easy, but it’s possible.

2. Social support network

A good social support network is another factor that protects you against adversity. Indeed, your chances of overcoming a difficult situation and turning it into valuable learning depend on the support you have. It’s easier to get stuck and find no way out when you try to overcome difficult circumstances alone. Your family, friends, and community have the ability to help you in the face of adversity.

Your social group can help you increase your self-confidence. It can also lighten any burdens imposed by deprivation or suffering. If you have the support of others, it’s easier to go through those dark stages.

3. Intelligence

More important than IQ or the number of qualifications you have is practical intelligence. The smarter a person is, the better chance they have of facing adversity successfully.

Until a while ago it was believed that we came into the world with our intelligence already defined. Therefore, we were expected to reach a certain level of intelligence but not go beyond it. Today, we know that isn’t the case.

Although there are genetic limits, the truth is that you can be smarter if you cultivate and exercise your brain. In reality, it doesn’t matter so much what level of intelligence you possess, but how much you apply it to specific situations. In the face of adversity, it’s important to consult reason and make use of reflection.

4. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand another person from their own point of view. This can only genuinely be done if you first understand your own feelings.

Empathy is a virtue that prevents conflict and helps you overcome situations of contradiction more efficiently. Indeed, in the face of adversity, if you’re empathetic, you have an additional resource for managing your own emotions and dealing with those of others.

Woman with heart in hands
Empathy helps us understand others, a fundamental pillar in contexts of adversity.

5. In children: being able to count on an adult

In the case of children, one of the factors that most protect their mental health against adversity is the certainty that they can at least count on one adult unconditionally.

Children who grow up in an orphanage often end up developing fewer coping strategies to deal with negative circumstances. This disadvantage is based on many facts derived from an absence or lack. However, perhaps the most significant is that of not having a model to imitate.

It doesn’t matter whether the adult is their father or mother, or, indeed, another primary caregiver. The adult world represents, for the child, a referent of reality. Ideally, it’s the parents who offer that point of reference, but if not, any adult who’s consistently around will have a great impact on the child’s mind.

Finally, you should try and continuously develop and implement factors against adversity. If you’re able to use them when a difficult situation arises, you’ll be more likely to overcome the difficulty and escape the situation.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Albiol, L. M. (2018). La empatía: entenderla para entender a los demás. Plataforma.
  • Fernandes de Araújo, L., & Bermúdez, M. D. L. P. (2015). Resiliencia en adultos: una revisión teórica. Terapia psicológica33(3), 257-276.
  • González de Rivera Revuelta, J. L. (2004). Empatía y ecpatía. Psiquis (Madr.)25(6), 243-245.
  • Rafael Neira, M. D. (2015). Factores protectores ante la adversidad: edificando niños y niñas resilientes.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.