Qualities of Personal Resilience

Qualities of Personal Resilience

Author: Charles P. Bosmajian, Jr., Ph.D. is a psychologist at the National Center for Telehealth & Technology.

Welcome to Afterdeployment. This site contains a variety of features to help service members and their families deal with a wide variety of post-deployment issues to include: depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and substance abuse, just to name a few.  In addition, this blog will be updated regularly to keep you informed about a variety of topics pertinent to service members.

For the next few weeks we will be focusing on the personal qualities that help to make a person Resilient.  Resilience has to do with those characteristics that equip an individual to cope with difficult circumstances.  For the service member, situations such as combat or a prolonged deployment test the resilience of even the most effective warrior.  For their families, prolonged separation, worry, redefined family roles, are all part of the stress that must be endured when a loved one is deployed.

In this installment we will focus on two kinds of coping strategies, active problem solving and passive coping.  Active problem solving involves being able to tell the difference between things we have control over and can change and those things we can’t change and must be addressed through a shift in our goals.  Active problem solving uses a rational, logical approach to finding solutions to the challenges we often face.  When we use active problem solving we seek out new information and we assume some control over events is possible.  In other words, we trust our own judgment to find solutions.  At the same time we are able to accept and use negative feedback if we believe it to be accurate and useful.  We are flexible and can adapt, depending on what the situation requires.  We are able to set goals and work toward them in a logical, step-by-step manner and if a solution is not working, we are able to shift to a new strategy, easily.

Passive coping, on the other hand, is a coping style in which we avoid dealing with changes or challenges that we might be confronted with. This approach leads people to respond to life’s difficulties through avoidance, withdrawal, and pessimism, often putting important decisions or actions off on others.  Strategies associated with passive coping are substance abuse, wishful thinking, denial, blaming, distraction and worry.  Because passive coping tends to interfere with reaching our goals, this approach strengthens our belief that we are powerless over difficult circumstances.  It’s easy to see that passive coping can lead to some pretty negative outcomes in the long run.

There are resources available within this website where you can learn more about effective coping strategies.  You may even want to check out the Resilience topic area which will provide you with in-depth information and offer you additional information on effective coping strategies.



Very interesting comparisons. Does this mean that someone who is passive aggressive uses passive coping...or another way of looking at it, has the passive aggressive person learned to "cope" by controlling others in this way? Or are the two concepts not related in any way. I'd like to know...sometimes I think my wife is passive aggressive, but wonder if this is how she's learned to "cope" with her world.


I found the coping article to be ok except that I don't see a need to welcome anyone to this site; it wasn't started this year, was it? A welcome should be on the home page, not here!

Does anybody know when the rest of the module content will be complete? Why does it take so long?

Moderator After...
Last seen: 1 year 5 months ago
Joined: 05/23/2011 - 10:33

Good question! The term “passive-aggressive” refers to a personality trait more than a coping style. Individuals who are passive-aggressive will, as the expression indicates, use a passive form of aggression in order to detach themselves from any blame for being aggressive. They may do things like agree with the requests of others, and may even seem enthusiastic about them. But they don't perform a requested action on time or in a useful way, and may even work against it. Instead of saying “I don’t want to do that task” the individual will not protest – they just won’t do it. When the passive-aggressive behavior is confronted, the individual may rationalize or make excuses, never taking responsibility for or admitting fault in any way. In fact, the passive-aggressive person may actually find a way to blame others or the person who’s confronting them about their behavior.

Passive coping, on the other hand, is a style of dealing with life’s difficulties in which individuals simply avoid or postpone coping decisions in the hope that they will just go away, without any intent on hurting or controlling others. A passive-aggressive person will actually try to appear “passive”, but with the intent to control others, or hurt or get revenge on others (“aggressive”) for some offense, real or imagined. So, the person using “passive coping” is not necessarily intent on controlling others, simply on avoiding having to deal with difficulties. There may be some overlap between the two concepts, however, in that people who use passive coping may come to realize that their passivity can have the effect of controlling, or even harming, others in their world. When that happens, passive coping actually can become passive aggressive behavior.


kinda see what your saying i have ptsd and tbi. don't know how to get to where your talking about.

Moderator After...
Last seen: 1 year 5 months ago
Joined: 05/23/2011 - 10:33

Thank you for your comments, we are gald you found the article interesting. We included a welcome in this opening article of the Resilience series because we have a large number of visitors that come to our blog directly from other sites without first visiting our homepage.

Thank you for your interest in the various health and wellness modules we have on the site. While we endeavor to have all the modules content available for everyone as soon as possible it does take considerable time to create, review, and publish all the information contained within each module. You may also note that the content will be periodically updated as we work to keep the workshops current. Stay with us as we continue to add the content you are looking for, as well as new features and functionality.

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