Resilience – it is the ability to bounce back despite the challenges you may have faced. Resilient people adapt to and grow in any situation that life may throw at them.
It could be any challenge, trauma, adversity or tragedy, such as losing a loved one, relationship problems, etc.
Since the beginning of time, there have been symbols that represent resilience. In fact, different cultures and religions use various symbols to depict resilience.
From shapes and colors to animals and plants, all kinds of symbols are used across cultures. Many of them have been there since ancient times while others are modern symbols.
These symbols are potent and widely used to represent strength and resilience. They can be used in different ways, from tattoos, statues and monuments in places, to general symbols used by people.
While there are countless symbols that represent resilience across the world, here are the top 23 symbols of resilience and their meanings:
Table of Contents
- 1. Helix/Spiral (Universal)
- 2. Plum blossom (Taiwan)
- 3. Borage (Universal)
- 4. Oak Tree (Universal)
- 5. Lotus Flower (Universal)
- 6. Lion (universal)
- 7. Monarch Butterfly (Universal)
- 8. Oriental Dragon (China)
- 9. Semicolon (Universal)
- 10. Tabono (West Africa)
- 11. Golden Fish (Buddhism)
- 12. Eagle (Universal)
- 13. Phoenix (Universal)
- 14. Wolf (Universal)
- 15. Griffin (Old World Cultures)
- 16. Boar (Universal)
- 17. Horses (Universal)
- 18. Bull (Universal)
- 19. Green (Universal)
- 20. Brown (Universal)
- 21. Red (Universal)
- 22. Dagger (Old World Cultures)
- 23. Diamonds (Universal)
1. Helix/Spiral (Universal)
The shape of the helix or a spiral is found everywhere in nature.
From galaxies and every living organism’s DNA to sunflowers, the shells of nautilus and snails, seahorses, vine tendrils, ferns, the horns of certain animals, and even our fingerprints, they all have the helix as their primary structure.
The helix is one of the most popular symbols of resilience. It is symbolic of all the things in nature with this shape that are able to stand the test of time with the utmost strength and stability.
Because of this, this shape is crucial as the foundation of many architectural buildings.
From churches to mosques, the helix is at the core structure. It has been there since the beginning of time and has proved its strength and resilience.
This beautiful shape is a symbol of growth, evolution and resilience.To add to that, this shape is not just used by man as a means of strength but by nature as well.
Did you know that when a plant comes across a barrier, it gathers enough energy, flexibility and work to create a helix? It twists and turns itself into the formation of a helix, which helps it get through the barrier with resilience and beauty.
2. Plum blossom (Taiwan)
This gorgeous flower has been the national flower of Taiwan since 1964. According to the Taiwanese, it represents the utmost strength and resilience because of the way that the flower blooms vibrantly, despite the weather.
Even when facing some of the harshest storms, it continues to bloom gracefully. Due to its ability to get through all kinds of challenges, it is considered a symbol of resilience.
In addition to that, these trees usually live to be more than thousands of years old, making their link to resilience even stronger.
3. Borage (Universal)
The borage flower is known to be the symbol of resilience in the world of plants. Although it’s not certain where its name originated from, it is popularly believed that it is derived from the word “carago” which translates to courage.
This flower has been used for strength since ancient times.
The Roman soldiers used to eat leaves and flowers from this plant before going to war. The Celts added this flower to their wine before battle to give them courage.
Medieval knights also wore scarves that were sewn with borage flowers because it made them more resilient.
Interestingly, these flowers have many different names from starflowers to bees brea, barack and tailwort.
These flowers are believed to be masculine and linked to the planet Jupiter.
4. Oak Tree (Universal)
Trees, in general, are strong and resilient as they go through many challenges yet keep standing tall. The oak tree, in particular, is a symbol of strength and resilience.
The oak tree is known to have the ability to endure strong storms, even as strong as hurricanes and tornadoes.
These trees survive even when they are stripped off their leaves because of their strength, branches and roots systems. It is for this reason that oak is also used to make furniture and buildings.
Many states in the United States have also picked out species of oak as their official state tree.
In many ancient European cultures, it was considered sacred and linked to strength and endurance.
It was important to the Celts, Slavic, and Norse, as a religious symbol as it was closely linked with their thunder gods.
The Celtic word for this tree was drus, which is also an adjective for the words’ strong’ and ‘firm’ thereby highlighting it as a symbol of strength and resilience. The Celtics believe that the tree possesses magical powers.
5. Lotus Flower (Universal)
The Lotus flower is considered the epitome of resilience across many cultures. For starters, the flower begins its journey rooted in mud through which it patiently makes its way and blossoms to the top as a beautiful flower.
It is symbolic of overcoming the difficulties and challenges that life throws our way and keeps growing and standing tall. Even in the dirtiest of waters, it produces the most stunning flower.
This flower also has the ability to weather strong winds and storms effectively and that’s why it’s known to be a perfect symbol of resilience.
It offers strength to people going through tough times as a symbol of hope.
The Lotus flower holds special significance in the Buddhist religion. It is considered sacred and has many symbolic meanings.
In fact, according to legend Gautama Buddha’s first steps made the lotus flower appear in each place that he stepped his feet. That’s Why Buddha is sometimes represented as sitting on a Lotus flower.
6. Lion (universal)
This one is not hard to believe. Lions are known to be the king of the jungle and a symbol of strength.
They are also a symbol of resilience across most cultures. This association dates way back thousands of years.
Egyptians used lions as protectors and also to represent strength and courage. Lions were linked to the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet who is also referred to as the Eye of Ra.
You even see the Lion as a symbol of strength and resilience in Hindu culture and religion. They use lions to represent one of the members of their Holy Trinity, named Vishnu.
It doesn’t just end there. The Ancient Greeks also associated lions with their gods, such as Artemis, Dionysus and Apollo who used lions for their chariots.
Just like the Egyptians, the ancient Greeks also considered lions to be protectors of homes, guardians of shrines and thrones as well as of the dead.
Lions are fearless creatures that survive no matter what and are therefore famously used as a symbol of strength, bravery and resilience all over the world.
7. Monarch Butterfly (Universal)
The Monarch butterfly is a unique one because it’s the only two-way migratory butterfly that’s still alive.
This little creature travels to Mexico for winter and then back to North America for spring. It’s known for its fortitude and resilience.
Even though it faces many obstacles on its journey of migration, it quickly adapts to its new environment gracefully and that’s why it’s considered so resilient.
8. Oriental Dragon (China)
Since ancient times, dragons all over the world have symbolized strength, power and resilience.
They have an especially positive image in East Asia as compared to the West. They have the ability to withstand anything and that’s why they are considered so resilient.
It is a representation of the Chinese people’s undeniable strength. That is why dragons are everywhere in China, from festivals, art, astrology, etc.
Chinese dragons are also considered a lucky symbol. It has become the symbol of China and Chinese culture.
9. Semicolon (Universal)
You may be thinking that this is just a punctuation mark but that’s not true. In modern times the semicolon symbolizes way more than that.
It is a symbol of survival. The semicolon is a symbol of pride for those who suffer from mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, etc.
The reason for this is that just like the semicolon represents how a sentence is being continued instead of a full stop that would end the sentence.
Just like that, it represents how a person has chosen to continue their life instead of ending it.
It is symbolic of their resilience for continuing their lives despite the mental issues that they are dealing with.
10. Tabono (West Africa)
The Tabono is shaped like four joined oars, it is an adinkra symbol for strength, persistence and resilience. Adinkra are symbols that depict many concepts.
They are featured in fabrics, logos, pottery and architecture of many West African cultures, especially the Ashanti people.
It is a representation of strength, more mental than physical. One of the things to note about this symbol is it’s perfect and beautiful shape.
It is popularly used as a tattoo, jewelry piece and in art!
11. Golden Fish (Buddhism)
The Golden Fish is an important symbol in Buddhist culture and religion. It is a symbol of resilience.
This is because this tiny creature bravely swims across oceans of the world without drowning.
That is the epitome of resilience and that’s why these creatures are symbolic of it. They are given extra importance for their size as well as beauty.
12. Eagle (Universal)
Eagles are considered to be symbols of strength and beauty. It is also a symbol of courage, power and resilience.
The eagle is a strong bird and with its strong wings, it depicts its strength and power. Many people believe that when an eagle flies above your head, it provides that person with the resilience to endure the difficulties that life throws their way.
The Aztec people also believe that the eagle is a representation of strength and resilience.
This eagle is known to have been drawn on warriors who finished their training and proved their strength and courage, as a way to highlight their resilience.
13. Phoenix (Universal)
This gorgeous bird is symbolic of many different things, one of the biggest ones being resilience.
The reason for this is that this mythical creature literally rises from the ashes. It dies in flames and then is reborn from the same ashes of the fire that it is burnt in.
The phoenix doesn’t give up despite burning to death, instead, it gathers the strength to start a new life.
It is because of its ability to be so strong that this bird is a popular symbol of resilience all over the world.
There’s a reason why this bird is so popular today even amongst the youth. Many people get it tattooed on themselves as a way to inspire them to be resilient.
It is also a popular metaphor in children’s books.
14. Wolf (Universal)
Wolves are another animal that is commonly linked to strength and resilience.
Even though in the past this animal was associated with negative traits, in the modern world, they are associated with strength, courage, loyalty and resilience.
That’s why in many cultures, a wolf’s head is considered to be a symbol of strength in battle.
In ancient times, warriors would wrap themselves in wolf skin to get the courage and resilience of the animal during war.
15. Griffin (Old World Cultures)
The Griffin is a bird that has the body of a lion and the wings of an eagle. Because of this brilliant combination, Griffins are known to be bold and courageous.
It is said their concept came about in the Levant in the 2nd millennium BC, and they represent strength and resilience.
No matter what obstacles griffin’s face, they aren’t afraid to spread their wings and fly.
To highlight their resilience, they are always shown having their wings spread and ready to strike.
16. Boar (Universal)
Even though boars are considered to be frightening creatures, for the Celts, they represent strength and resilience.
This is because the boar was a holy mystical creature whose head represented incredible strength.
In ancient times, Native Americans used the Boar for lessons of courage and bravery.
Even in ancient Greek mythology, the Greek heroes fought or killed boar. In the Germanic tribes, many of them had images of the boar engraved on their swords as a symbol of strength and resilience.
In East Asia, the boar has been linked with traits such as bravery, defiance and resilience.
17. Horses (Universal)
Horses are stunning creatures, known for their beauty and resilience. This isn’t something new and has been there since ancient times across many different cultures.
It was even considered to be sacred among the early Indo-Aryan people.
It is interesting to note that in Ancient Chinese traditions, the strength of the horse was considered to be even more than the dragon.
Even though a lot of this is from old world cultures, the horse remains as a symbol of strength and resilience even today.
18. Bull (Universal)
The Bull was known to symbolize strength and resilience in many old world cultures.
It was considered a sacred animal among the Celts, a symbol of strength and will. The ancient Egyptians also looked at the animal as a representation of strength.
Due to its fierce nature, even today the bull is considered to be a universal symbol of strength and courage, especially for the Americans.
That is one of the reasons why you’ll find a statue of a bull on Wall Street. It also highlights the resilience of the US market.
19. Green (Universal)
Green is a color that widely represents nature. It is the color of lush trees and forests.
Because of its representation of nature, the color is known to symbolize resilience.
It also represents youth and freshness.Nature withstands everything that’s thrown its way and this color is a depiction of the power and strength of nature.
20. Brown (Universal)
Another color that’s closely connected with nature and represents resilience is the color brown.
It is the color of the earth as well as the oaks of trees and also mountains. It is a depiction of resilience and growth and because of its strong connection to nature, it is associated with immense strength and endurance.
21. Red (Universal)
That is one of the biggest reasons that this color is used in flags. It is a bold color and, therefore, it’s not surprising that it would be symbolic of strength and resilience.
Red is also the color of fire and blood both, which represent strength. That is also a major reason why it’s the color that is used to depict resilience.
22. Dagger (Old World Cultures)
Daggers and other short knives are used as a symbol of courage and resilience.
They have been around since ancient times and have commonly been used to attack enemies in close encounters.
It is therefore looked at as a symbol of resilience. In many cultures, it is even worn by men for ceremonial occasions as a symbol of manhood and strength.
It is a talisman for the bold and the brave.
23. Diamonds (Universal)
Diamonds are considered to be the epitome of resilience. If you look at it, it makes perfect sense.
They are hard and one of the sturdiest stones out there. Its life begins with a sudden disruption, after which for billions of years, they go through challenging conditions of extreme heat and pressure.
After this turmoil ends and they are transformed into these gorgeous stones, they emerge stronger than before.
They are known to be one of the world’s oldest and strongest jewels, they were formed over 3 billion years ago.
These stones are naturally resilient and the stressful conditions that they go through make them all the more beautiful.
They survive so beautifully that they go from being basic stones to rare jewels. It is for this reason that diamonds are globally recognized as a symbol of resilience.
Each of these 23 symbols of resilience is brilliant in its own way and beautifully represents the quality.
Most of them are universal and potent across cultures and religions all over the world.
Now that you are aware of what they symbolize, you’ll look at them differently.
The next time you want to inspire someone to be resilient you can use one of these symbols.
- Resilience & helix symbolism — The resilient helix — Psychiatry & psychotherapy services | Scripps ranch, San Diego. (n.d.). The Resilient Helix. https://www.theresilienthelix.com/resilience
- Diamonds: A symbol of resilience. (n.d.). JEWELLERYNET. https://www.jewellerynet.com/en/jnanews/blog/23832
- Metin. (2017, June 12). Symbols of strength – The extensive list – Mythologian. Symbols and Their Meanings – Mythology and Gods – Mythical Creatures. https://mythologian.net/symbols-strength-extensive-list/
- Chinese dragons — Symbolism, types, culture, legends, art. (2018, July 27). China Highlights. https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/article-chinese-dragons.htm
- Growing oaks. (n.d.). SocialWorker.com. https://www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/practice/growing-oaks/
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