Responding to climate change requires radical transformations in social, political, economic and social-ecological systems. Recent research has argued that individuals can drive transformations at scale through changes in beliefs and values that affect political activity. We draw from sociological and psychological perspectives on mental health outcomes among survivors of violence and abuse, taking a gendered approach, to show how potential for individual transformation is differentially constructed through personal life trajectories and intersectional social relations. We also argue that being resilient and transforming is stressful and involves significant personal costs. In integrating this psychological perspective, we suggest a more equitable way to define the individual's role in, and their responsibility for, sustainable, societal-scale shifts for climate change.