No matter how much you wish it wouldn’t, life can knock you to your knees at times.
Getting back up again requires strength.
But the funny thing about life is that every time we fall and fail, we slowly and steadily build up our resilience in the process.
It’s like a toughening of our outer shell that helps us to better deal with life’s knocks next time around.
If you can see the following traits in yourself, then congrats, because the chances are you’re already pretty hardy.
1) You’re optimistic
It’s one of the biggest testaments to someone’s strength when they haven’t let the bad things that happen to them turn them into a cynic or a pessimist.
We may mistakenly believe that expecting the worst will somehow lessen the blow. But it doesn’t work that way.
In reality, a positive outlook on life helps us to adapt to stressful situations.
Research has shown that being optimistic plays a mediating role in the relationship between resilience and psychological well-being.
Rather than letting bad things define you, you can look to your future with hope.
2) You’re confident
Confident people trust themselves. So they have faith that they can navigate choppy waters.
That self-belief is crucial.
It provides firm foundations that keep you strong. It gives you a self-assured spirit that encourages you to keep going.
That confidence acts like a protective barrier so you don’t take things so much to heart.
As does the next, potentially surprising trait, on our list…
3) You’re light-hearted
Yep, even struggle doesn’t have to be total tears and heartache.
People who can learn to laugh through some of the pain lighten their load.
Let me give you an example.
Years ago I got dumped by a boyfriend I loved. So needless to say, it sucked…big time!
We’d always had this joke about our good-looking neighbor, who we called “hot Mike”.
During our breakup chat, I turned to him and said with a straight face:
“Just answer me one thing honestly….Do you think I’ve got a chance with hot Mike?”
In all the undeniable sadness we still managed to share a laugh together.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about trying to dismiss or brush off negative emotions.
But resilience isn’t about taking everything super seriously, quite the opposite sometimes.
It’s easier to bounce back when we can find a sense of humor about the shit life can throw at us.
4) You’re thick-skinned
Yet again, I think it’s important to point out that developing a bit of a thick skin is not about closing yourself off or shutting down.
But the people who can not only handle criticism and feedback but take it on board too, tend to fair much better.
That’s because it is a sign that you don’t have such a fragile ego. And it’s the fragile ego’s that really cannot take any kind of setback.
People who are thick-skinned don’t take everything so personally.
They remember that everyone faces rejection and they’re less inclined to let others get to them.
5) You’re open-minded
Being set in your ways is never good for your resilience. Because it makes you rigid.
You close yourself off to endless potential and possibility. When something goes wrong you’re more likely to fixate on the negatives.
But being open-minded makes it easier to accept the many different realities and perspectives in life.
You’re much more resilient to change.
Of all the traits on our list, this is the one that remains the most elusive to me.
It sounds such a simple thing, yet it is hard to practice.
Life presents many frustrations. And control freaks can quickly lose their cool.
We get fixated on certain outcomes we expect or particular timelines we want to stick to.
Patience teaches us that we must let go.
In doing so we are able to tolerate problems or suffering without crumbling.
It’s not the Boyscout motto for nothing:
‘Always be prepared’ is good advice when we want to handle emergencies the best way we can.
Planning is another way to do our part so that we can take back control in constructive ways.
That way, we can not only be ready, but we can also forge a new way forward…
Taking initiative is a wonderful way of feeling more in control in amongst the chaos.
Rather than become a victim of circumstances, proactive people grab the bull by the horns.
They hone in on what can be done, rather than wallowing in rumination about the things they cannot do anything about.
They decide on a plan of action. They look for the things that might help them feel better. Or they take steps that will make a practical difference.
But importantly, they aren’t waiting for anyone to swoop in and save them. They step up and take responsibility for themselves.
In the words of the 1980s Billie Ocean song:
“When the going get’s tough, the tough get going.”
Ok, I know I’m showing my age here. But what I’m saying is that when problems arise, strong people are steadfast in their resolve to solve them.
Tenacity is what gives you the drive to stay the course, rather than give up.
In some ways, that often involves a little bit of stubbornness too. Being headstrong isn’t always a bad thing.
In small doses, that willfulness is what toughens you up. Failure is not an option for you, so you’re prepared to do what it takes to keep going.
But here’s the tricky part:
Too much hardens you and makes you inflexible, which as we’ll see next, is never good.
Whether we like it or not, change is inevitable.
It can be naturally quite unnerving to us too. When we don’t know what to expect, it threatens our sense of security.
The strongest of people know how to bend so that they don’t break. That means adopting a flexible attitude as they go.
They learn to flow with life, so they don’t waste time and energy battling against it.
Adaptability demands acceptance. Yet again, we must focus on what we can control and let go of what we can’t.
This one comes down to willpower.
It’s all about how well someone manages to self-regulate.
Because that helps to keep you on track, gives you clear direction, and creates structure.
These are all things that not only help us to progress and be more successful. But they also provide a coping mechanism when things aren’t going so well.
That’s one of the reasons why it can be comforting to lean on routine when we’re going through a hard time. It brings back a sense of order again.
Think of resourcefulness as your access to practical tools that will help you during difficult times.
They may include things like:
- Coming up with creative solutions
- Being able to think about a problem analytically
- Leaning on the love and encouragement of a friend or family member
- Practicing self-care
- Thinking outside the box
One study showed that resourceful communities were much more resilient in the face of disastrous events.
It makes sense, the more support we have to fall back on the easier life becomes.
13) Growth orientated
You’ve probably heard plenty about the importance of having a growth mindset.
But what does that really mean?
Well, it’s the belief that who you are is changeable and can be constantly created. It’s not set.
Your skills, talents, and abilities can always be improved when you put in hard work and apply yourself.
So it’s easy to see why this framework is so important for staying motivated.
If you think that everything is already set in stone, why bother? You’re far more likely to have a defeatist approach to tackling challenges.
At first glance, someone’s honesty may seem to have very little to do with their resilience levels.
So how are the two linked?
Because taking a truthful approach to life isn’t easy. It’s often much easier to bury your head in the sand than face realities.
Honesty requires self-awareness and the courage to look past what’s easy and do what is right.
This sort of straightforwardness is character building, and that strength of character is the sign of a tough person.
This helps you to look on the bright side of life.
We’re not talking about toxic positivity. It’s ok to admit when you’re hurting or when something happens that makes you feel bad.
But gratitude can be a wonderful tonic when we feel like the world is against us. It’s what helps us find our perspective again.
Research has shown that amongst its many benefits is helping us to deal with adversity.
We gain strength from remembering that there are always things to feel thankful for.
Being able to notice and appreciate the little things in life helps us to stay grounded when times get tough.