How to thrive under pressure: 9 traits of resilient individuals

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Sometimes, it all just gets a little bit….much.

Deadlines, stressful work meetings, academic exams that never seem to end, and just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, you’ve spilled coffee all over your new t-shirt.

Life is tough, that’s for sure.

But luckily for us, humans are an extremely adaptable species. We don’t have to just sit there and take it.

We can use all the challenges thrown at us, confront them, and thrive.

Care to know how? Let’s have a look at the 9 traits of resilient individuals!

1) They believe in themselves

Let’s start off simple.

Well, I say “simple”, but keeping faith in yourself and your work is never easy. Especially when you’ve had the most horrid week in history and want to hide in a secluded cave and cry.

But resilience isn’t about not crying or not taking a break. It’s about doing all of that while knowing that this, too, shall pass.

When you’re resilient, you feel all the grief and anger and disappointment that come as a result of failure – but then you pick yourself back up again and give it another try.

Because you believe in your potential. You believe your work can make a difference. You’re allowing yourself to push forward, no matter the obstacles.

And that’s very brave, if I say so myself.

2) They have a growth mindset

The reason resilient people continue fighting for themselves is that they believe they can get better if only they put enough effort in.

That’s what’s called a growth mindset, and it’s endlessly inspiring.

Was your first marathon a complete disaster? Well, that’s okay – you’ll just keep on training.

If your performance doesn’t meet your expectations, don’t give up. Reflect on the areas in which you could improve, figure out how you can do that in a healthy and sustainable way, and then implement routines that will help you get there.


3) They use self-reflection to grow in resilience

When stress is out to get you, your best weapon of choice is self-awareness.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? How can you confront this situation in a way that’s suitable to your unique personality? Is there anything you need to watch out for?

If you tend to blow up as a result of certain triggers, for instance, what can you do to lessen the impact (i.e., take a five and leave the situation until you’ve calmed down)?

Self-knowledge is detrimental to resilience. But where do you start?

I really enjoy getting some guidance from others when I’m struggling, be it through my friends’ advice, watching YouTube videos, or joining helpful online courses.

Reset Your Life Compass Challenge, for instance, is a free course that’s all about the first steps toward self-reflection and setting achievable goals. It’s a great combination of learning more about yourself and taking active steps to set yourself on a path of success.

A win-win.

4) They reach out for help when they need it

Speaking of getting guidance, resilient people are strong, confident, and resourceful, but that’s because they understand the inherent value that comes from receiving help.

Did you know that positive social support has been proven to increase your resilience to stress?

When you have someone to lean on, you automatically feel more supported in confronting life’s obstacles.

People who are truly resilient don’t try to save face or keep up an image of a self-reliant brave hero. They ask for advice or emotional support when they need it.

And they’re all the more resilient as a consequence.

5) They take self-care seriously

Help doesn’t necessarily come only from the outside, of course – sometimes, you can help yourself, too.

In other words, you’ve got to become your best friend, your advisor, and your fan number one. When you combine this strong sense of self-love with a stable social network, you’ve got yourself an amazing basis for growing in resilience.

Contrary to what you might think, self-care isn’t just putting some cucumber on your face and sweating in a bubble bath.

It’s listening to what your body needs and being gentle with yourself. It’s telling yourself the words you need to hear most, hugging yourself, and doing the things that make you happy.

Personally, the single best thing that’s improved my resilience is inner child healing. Homecoming by John Bradshaw has taught me how to care for the child inside me, console her, and give her the love she needs.

When I’m going through a tough time, I tell my childhood self I can take care of her, drawing strength from the idea of my old and wise self from the future.

It’s kind of like having three versions of myself inside me, which sounds kind of…nuts. But it’s actually one of the most healing things I’ve ever done, so…

It works, and that’s what counts.

6) They are flexible and adaptable

Sure, resilience lies in sticking to your goals despite obstacles. But that’s not all. Far from it.

It’s also the ability to pivot when needed, to let go of certain ideas in your mind, to adapt your approach based on unforeseen circumstances.

One of the biggest challenges in life is the fact that nothing ever goes exactly as you planned. There will always be slight adjustments, last-minute changes of heart, and even plans that completely fall apart.

When you’re truly resilient, you don’t just quickly adapt to the change – you accept that it might come, and you’re okay with that.

Stuff happens. That’s life. All you can do is…

7) They face reality as it is

“Ugh, I told you this would happen. No one listened to me, and look where it got us. Now we’re all doomed.”

I hate it when people say things like this because 1) we all know you were right, no need to bring it up every two seconds, and 2) you’re not making the situation any better.

When resilient people find themselves in a bind, they don’t waste time complaining or wishing this had never happened. They know there’s no point.

Instead, they assess the situation, accept reality as it is, and begin looking for solutions.

This calm and rational approach is what equips them to handle challenges in a more effective way, strengthening their resourcefulness and powering them forward.

8) They push their limits in a smart way

A state of calm isn’t helpful only in emergencies – it’s also what helps resilient people constantly push their limits until they skyrocket into the Earth’s orbit.

The only limit is you,” people say. And they’re right. I mean, humans have managed to do things like defy gravity (planes) and insane amounts of pressure (submarines), not to mention going to space (which is still kind of insane when you think about it).

But you’ve got to be smart about it. If you want to become a backpacker in the mountains, you don’t just go on a 5-day hike without learning anything about it first. 

You start off small. You go on a 2-hour hike, then do a 4-hour one. You learn about the essentials of camping in the meantime. You research how to use maps for navigation.

That’s how resilient people approach challenges. They know that slow and steady wins the race. And when they finally embark on a big adventure, they come prepared due to all the experience they’ve garnered beforehand.

9) They are optimistic realists

In order to thrive under pressure, you have to believe you can make it through. This is where optimism comes in.

A resilient person is naturally optimistic. They trust that things will end well, otherwise they’d just have a mental breakdown because, well, “we’re all screwed anyway”.

But optimism can turn into naivety if you don’t add realism into the mix. That’s why resilience is the perfect combination of both – you know it will be hard, so you prepare yourself for it in the best way you know how.

When bad things happen, you don’t let it get to you because you assumed they might. You venture forth instead, solving each problem as you go.

In the end, that’s what resilience is primarily about – accepting that life is tough and deciding to fight for yourself anyway.

So, will you fight? The choice is yours.

Denisa Cerna

Hi! I’m a fiction author and a non-fiction freelance writer with a passion for personal development, mental health, and all things psychology. I have a graduate degree in Comparative Literature MA and I spend most of my time reading, travelling, and – shocker – writing. I’m always on a quest to better understand the inner workings of the human mind and I love sharing my insights with the world. If any of my articles change your life for the better… mission accomplished.
Get in touch at or find me on LinkedIn.

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