For each of the seven resiliencies we have described three developmental phases: child, adolescent, and adult. In children, resiliencies appear as unformed, non-goal oriented, intuitively motivated behavior. In adolescents, these behaviors sharpen and become deliberate. In adults, they broaden and deepen, becoming an enduring part of the self. For instance, insight begins with sensing in childhood, becomes knowing in adolescence, and matures into understanding in adulthood.

We have shown the developmental phases on concentric circles in the resiliency mandala.


Reading the Resiliency Mandala

Each circle of the diagram represents a stage of development. At the center of the circle is the self. The ring closest to the center holds the name of the childhood phases of all the resiliencies. Moving outward, the next ring holds the adolescent stages, and the one after that, the adult stages. The outermost ring, gives the general, overall name of each resiliency.

Reading the diagram ring by ring will give you an understanding of the general concept of resilience at each stage of development.
Reading the wedges will give you an understanding of the development of the individual resiliencies over time. Each wedge represents one resiliency. It names the overall resiliency on the outermost arc then moves inward through the adult, adolescent, and childhood stages. For instance, insight takes the form of understanding in adulthood, knowing in adolescence, and sensing in childhood.


Reading the Mandala Wedge by Wedge

Insight – asking tough questions. In children insight takes form in sensing – a pre-verbal intuition that something is wrong in the world. In adolescents, insight sharpens into knowing – a systematic, well articulated awareness of the problem. In adults, insight matures into understanding – empathy, comprehension of the self and others, and a tolerance for complexity and ambiguity.

Independence – emotional and physical distancing from the sources of trouble in one’s life. Independence begins in children with straying – wandering away when trouble is in the air. In adolescents, independence grows into emotional disengagement – detaching from troublesome situations and standing up for oneself. In adults, independence takes form in separating – taking control over the power of one’s pain.

Relationships – making fulfilling connections to others. Relationships begin in children with contacting – making fleeting ties with others who are emotionally available. In adolescents, relationships sharpen into recruiting – the deliberate attempt to engage with adults and peers who are helpful and supportive. In adults, relationships mature into attaching – mutually gratifying personal ties that are characterized by a balance of give and take.

Initiative – taking charge of problems. In children, initiative takes form in exploring – trial and error experiments in the physical world. In adolescents, initiative becomes working – problem solving and other goal-directed behavior in a wide range of activities. In adults, initiative matures into generating – a zest for projects and for tackling challenging situations.

Creativity – using the imagination. Creativity and humor are related resiliencies. Both are safe harbors of the imagination, refuges where experiences can be rearranged to one’s own liking. Both begin in children with playing – using the imagination to make a world that conforms to one’s own wishes. In adolescents both mature into shaping – using art and comedy to give aesthetic form to one’s innermost feelings and thoughts. In adults, creativity matures into composing – serious artistic endeavors, and humor becomes laughing – the capacity to make something out of nothing, to minimize pain with a joke.

Humor – finding the comic in the tragic. An offshoot of creativity, humor also begins with playing, grows into shaping, and matures into laughing – the capactiy to see the absurdity in one’s own pains and troubles.

Morality – acting on the basis of an informed conscience. In children, morality is seen in judging – the capacity to make good-bad distinctions. In adolescents, morality sharpens into valuing – principled behavior and decision making. In adults, morality flowers into serving – a sense of obligation to contribute to the well-being of others.

From: Wolin and Wolin, “The Resilient Self”