A resource can be defined as:

  • A source of wealth or support, an available means
  • A feature that enhances the quality of human life
  • A source of information or expertise
  • Something one resorts to in times of difficulty
  • A possibility of relief or recovery
  • An ability or capability to meet and handle a situation
  • An available means afforded by the mind or one’s personal capabilities
  • A valuable quality of a person, organisation or group
  • Something used in order to function properly

There are, according to Babette Rothschild, five major classes of resources: Functional, physical, psychological, interpersonal and spiritual.

Functional resources include things like a place to live, a car, shops, food etc. Physical strength and agility are examples of physical resources. Building physical strength often brings with it greater confidence.

Psychological resources include intelligence, skills, knowledge, abilities, and strengths like a sense of humour, creativity, resilience, kindness and assertiveness. What are called ‘defence mechanisms’ are also resources. These are coping strategies that we have used to protect ourselves. The problem is not in the strategy itself but in the fact that it is over-used and one-sided which therefore limits us. In order to correct this, we need to be able to avail of the opposite action too. We need to have a range of choices available to us – this is called ‘response flexibility’.

Babette Rothschild explains, for example, that the defence of withdrawal is a good coping mechanism, but it works against us when we are never able to engage. Equally, if we always need to be with others but have no capacity for solitude this too is a limitation. Being able to express anger protects us but sometimes it comes at the risk of alienating others. If one cannot express anger, we might not alienate others but are left incapable of asserting ourselves. Overuse of a strength becomes a weakness. Equally underuse of a strength is also a weakness.

The solution to a limiting defence mechanism is not getting rid of it, but incorporating its opposite for balance and choice.

Interpersonal resources include family, friends and colleagues. But also, we can remember positive relationships and connections from the past which can create positive feelings and sensations. Friends, parents, neighbours, teachers, coaches etc. can all act as powerful resources. Animals and pets also belong in this category.

Spiritual resources include belief in a higher power, connection with nature, images of spiritual figures, meditation and prayer, music, rituals and other spiritual practices.

I would also include the category of ‘cultural resources’ here too. This includes using literature, art, tradition, group identity, sport, stories, history and other cultural constructions that support us in meeting challenges in our lives.


See if you can, under each of the categories listed above, make a list of all the resources you have available to you. Read over them and notice how it feels to have all this support available to you in meeting challenges.