If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that you can’t genuinely grow without a bit of hardship.
And though it’s easier said than done, try to always keep in mind that with every struggle, there comes a silver lining: it builds character.
Once you embrace that mindset, you’ll take life’s inevitable challenges in relative stride, knowing that in the long run, there’s something beneath the pain.
Resilience is the ability to adapt and bounce back when things don’t go as planned.
It’s a quality that requires time and life experience to build, but once you get there you’ll become bulletproof–with the armor and wisdom to cope with the inevitable curve balls life throws your way.
If you’ve overcome the specific yet common obstacles in life listed below, then I have news for you: you’re far more resilient than you realize.
Let’s get to it!
1) You’ve lost a loved one
My deepest condolences.
Getting over the loss of someone you love and care for is never an easy feat; in fact, it’s just about one of the most difficult things one can experience.
People who have gone through the crushing ordeal of permanently saying goodbye to a departed loved one and come out the other side, rediscovering joy and productivity, have displayed some tremendous levels of resilience.
If you’ve lost a family member, for instance, and had to report to work two weeks later, still grieving but high functioning and able to get the work done, then you’re in a rare class of resilient people.
You’re also as badass as they come.
2) You’ve had to deal with illness or injury
When you’re unfortunate enough to become seriously sick or injured, whether physical or mental, the road to recovery can be an excruciating one.
Some people tap out when they get injured, wallowing in their misfortune and losing the will to push ahead.
If you’ve been able to recover, pivot, and regain your mental and physical fortitude during such a taxing experience, you’re demonstrating your inner toughness.
It’s inspiring, frankly: to overcome the torturous agony and trauma of a physical (or mental) handicap and ultimately rise above it, making the most of a bad situation.
Not many have this level of resilience, so if this sounds familiar, allow me to take my hat off to you. You’re a star.
3) You’ve lost your job
Many of us are still living paycheck to paycheck. This isn’t our parents’ generation anymore.
The sad reality of the world is that things are just more expensive, the economy favoring certain sectors of society.
Okay, I won’t get into it too much but the point of that spiel is that many of us are unfairly crippled with bills at the end of the month: mortgage, rent, student loans, food, tuition, electricity, you name it.
Debt makes the world go round, and certainly the big financial institutions richer.
If you’ve lost your job, and are unable to meet certain payments, that’s an extremely stressful situation.
The thought of going hungry or homeless or not being able to feed your kid may come creeping up every now and then, making you feel a perpetual sense of uneasiness and panic.
I know from my experience that this particular type of stress slowly erodes your being until you feel completely numb.
If you’ve gone through prolonged financial uncertainty and lived to tell the story, that speaks to your inherent strength and grit.
You’re a survivor–a highly resilient one at that.
4) You’ve had rough breakups
When you break up with someone you love, you might feel a gut-wrenching pit in your stomach that never seems to go away.
Your emotions and non-stop ruminations become agonizing, almost too much to bear. Maybe you feel the powerful urge to give up.
So, if you’ve survived a tough separation and eventually got over it and found yourself thriving again, you’re far more resilient than you realize.
When my ex broke up with me, I truly felt like it was the end of the world. I was young and distraught and coped by drowning myself in booze and tears.
Weeks later, I abruptly stopped moping around. I remember telling myself “Enough’s enough, time to move on.” I found myself getting stronger by the day. The change was palpable.
I found the motivation to start a boxing routine, which proved to be an effective outlet for dealing with any residual heartache.
In the days after my breakup, it was almost unfathomable for me to get out of bed; fast forward three weeks, and I found myself feeling triumphant with renewed purpose.
She called me, asking to meet and talk things over. I declined her invitation and wished her the best, shocking myself, her, and everyone else involved in the process.
Sometimes, resilience has a way of surprising you, making itself heard even when you didn’t really know it existed.
5) You’ve undergone major life changes
Not everyone has the luxury to be at home. Sometimes, opportunities in foreign cities or countries present themselves, and you have to pursue them just to make ends meet.
Sure, it’s not as comfortable as being with your family in a familiar setting but sometimes that option is off the table.
Not only is there homesickness when you move away, there are issues like having to adapt quickly to a new culture, adjust to a new set of people, and deal with debilitating loneliness.
I have a Filipino friend, Carlo, who was recruited as a cook for a restaurant in the UK.
Previously, he had never left the Philippines, where he had raised five kids and married a doting wife. When he got the offer to work overseas, he knew he had to take it for everyone’s sake.
So Carlo flew to the UK, where he had to work twelve-hour shifts daily, wiring a good chunk of his hard-earned wages back home.
He sent all five of his kids to college, and all of them now are professionals with decent careers.
Sadly, he hasn’t been back to the Philippines or seen his family since he left seven years ago, only video chatting with family and friends to stay on top of things.
Carlo is still grinding away at his post in London. Just last month, he was promoted to a better-paying sous chef position.
He may miss his family and face the occasional bout of loneliness but he maintains a smile on his face.
True to his Asian genetic makeup, he’s resilient like bamboo, incredibly flexible, and adaptable to change.
6) You’ve failed or been rejected
Here’s the thing: you know you’re resilient when you can take rejection.
You’re not one to sulk in self-defeat. You stay positive and focused, using your failure to come back stronger, spirits undampened.
Whether it’s for a job interview, your personal life, or even creative endeavors like a film script, you don’t let the negative feedback of a few people bring you down.
You’re as tough as nails. Not many people can break you. You know what you bring to the table.
So when you hear “no” you are able to pick yourself up and keep moving forward.
7) You’ve overcome addiction
We might dismiss the strung-out homeless junkie as a bad or weak person, but the scientific fact is, addiction is a real medical illness, typically stemming from some abuse (physical or emotional) in our formative years.
When the paralyzing grip of addiction takes hold of you, it’s like being stuck in a very deep, daunting hole.
If you’ve taken steps to overcome your addiction, that shows commitment, courage, and resilience.
To go from dependent to sober, well, that’s no walk in the park. Coming from a recovering alcoholic, I am well aware that getting sober is as impressive an achievement as any.
This is you grabbing life by the balls and saying “It’s my turn to take control.” This realization doesn’t just take strength and wisdom, it takes an ample amount of resilience too.
8) You have to regularly deal with stress
Maybe you have to work multiple jobs or late hours just to feed your family or pay rent.
Maybe you have the exam of your life coming up.
Maybe the pressures of life in general are just becoming too difficult to bare.
If you can handle these types of high-stress circumstances composed and collected, without panicking or breaking down, this is a telltale sign of your hard-nosed, thick-skinned resilience.
Where most people will throw in the towel, you keep battling with admirable focus, flourishing in the big moments.
If this sounds familiar, I have news for you, you are far more resilient than you think.
So, in conclusion, I just want to say that you should start giving yourself more credit.
If you’ve overcome obstacles in life (whether they’re on this list or not) then you’ve built some resilience. Every hurdle has shaped who you are today.
And if you’re going through something right now, at the very least, you can look forward to an increase in your resiliency levels and strength of character down the line.
After all, life is about growth and learning and becoming a better person than you were yesterday.
And let me repeat, without pain, there is no growth.
All of us humans have resilience built-in within us. But for many, it’s dormant.
You just have to tap your inner powers. Because I promise that once you get there, there’ll be no stopping you.