15 personality traits that make you resilient in the face of adversity

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “Resilience is the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.”

It seems like some people were born resilient, while others struggle to cope with even the tiniest challenges.

The good news is that resilience can be learned and developed.

So, whether you’re facing some difficulties at work or in your personal life, here are 15 traits that will help you stay strong and help you get through the hard times.

Let’s jump right in:

1) Optimism

Did you know that studies have shown that optimism lengthens life?

It’s true! But that’s not all, optimism has also been linked to good physical and mental health, as well as success.

Well, then it’s no surprise that it’s a personality trait that makes you resilient in the face of adversity!

Let’s dig a little deeper:

You see, someone with an optimistic outlook tends to focus on solutions rather than problems. They believe that they can overcome almost any obstacle and achieve their goals despite various setbacks along the way.

And do you know why?

Because, unlike the pessimist, the optimist usually looks at adversity or a difficult situation as temporary. It’s that frame of mind that gives them the hope and strength to go on.

If you want to cultivate optimism, you can start by reframing your negative thoughts with positive ones and by practicing gratitude.

You may also wanna think about setting more realistic goals because when you succeed and reach your goal, you’ll feel more confident about realizing your next one.

After all, we all need a win once in a while, right?

2) Adaptability and flexibility

Here’s the thing:

Adversity usually forces people to face new challenges and deal with unexpected setbacks and changing environments. But, if you can adapt and be flexible, you’re more likely to successfully navigate these challenges and emerge from them stronger.

People who can adapt are usually able to assess a situation, identify potential obstacles and risks, and adjust their plans and behaviors accordingly.

They’re flexible and open to change, and that is extremely useful when it comes to finding a solution, developing new skills, and even seeing the silver lining in a challenging situation.

All-in-all, adaptability lets people maintain a sense of control in the face of adversity instead of leaving them feeling drained and defeated.

By being open to new possibilities and embracing change, you too can cultivate resilience.

3) Emotional intelligence

Intelligence isn’t just about being good at maths and logic, in fact, there are different types of intelligence.

There’s linguistic intelligence, musical intelligence, and even emotional intelligence.

While some people are so out of tune with their emotions, not to mention the emotions of other people, those with emotional intelligence are able to recognize and regulate their emotions.

What’s more, their ability to read other people’s emotions means that they’re able to respond with empathy and understanding.

Emotional intelligence means emotional regulation – being able to manage your emotions, and that’s key to building resistance.

Because folks with high emotional intelligence can regulate their emotions, they’re able to stay calm and focused when faced with a difficult situation.

They also have a much easier time coping with stress because they have many coping strategies at their disposal.

And the best part?

This helps them bounce back from any setbacks and maintain a sense of balance and perspective in the face of adversity.

4) Sense of humor

Ever heard of “gallows humor”?

It’s basically a type of humor that is used to make light of a serious, disturbing, and even sad topic or situation.

Now, before you say, “That’s so offensive” I have to point out that it’s quite the opposite in fact. It’s a coping mechanism that helps people make it through difficult, frightening, and even tragic situations. 

Here’s an interesting fact: humor is what helped a lot of people make it through the Holocaust.

Jewish comedian Robert Clary, who was imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp said that humor, “helped me tremendously when I was deported, because automatically, even in the first camp, I started to sing for the people who were there, the prisoners.”

He goes on to say that, “For the 10 minutes that I worked, or the 15 minutes that I sang they had forgotten where they were. And that was the most important thing.”

The bottom line is that humor can be a powerful tool that can make you resilient in the face of adversity, so don’t take it for granted.

5) Self-awareness

The thing about people who are self-aware is that they know what they’re strengths and weaknesses are.

They know how to use their strengths to their advantage, and that they should work on their weaknesses.

This can be super helpful in challenging situations.

But wait, there’s more…

Being self-aware means that you can recognize your emotional reactions to stressful and challenging situations.

And the result?

It helps you manage your emotions more effectively and reduces the negative impact of stress!

Lastly, people who are self-aware are more likely to reflect on the challenging experiences they face and learn from them. That means that the next time they’re in a similar situation, they’ll be more resilient!

Sounds good, right?

6) Persistence

Look, the truth is that without persistence, you won’t get very far.


Because at the first sign of a challenge, you’ll abandon ship. You’ll tell yourself, “This is too hard, I can’t do it.” or “This is impossible, it’s like the world is against me!.” If you ask me, those are just excuses!

But people who are persistent know what they want and they go for it. Their persistence and determination are what makes them resilient in the face of adversity. Plus, they know that the best things in life are worth fighting for.

Just remember that setbacks and challenges are all part of life, but if you really want something, you need to be persistent and keep trying until you succeed.

Does that sound like something you can do?

7) Self-sufficiency

Self-sufficiency is an extremely important trait that makes you resilient.

Just think about it:

If you’re faced with a problem, challenge, or a pretty bad situation, what are you gonna do?

You can try and run from it, wait for someone to come and rescue you, or you can be self-efficient and do what needs to be done to make it through.

Being self-sufficient means relying on yourself and if you ask me, that’s one of the best ways of being resilient.

8) Mindfulness

It’s all about being mindful of the present moment without judgment.

Mindfulness can be an important tool for building resilience because it helps increase your awareness. By recognizing and accepting difficult thoughts and emotions, you can learn to respond to stress in a better way.

And here’s another thing: By helping you focus your attention and think clearly, mindfulness can enhance your problem-solving abilities, which is another way of being resilient in the face of adversity.

If you’re interested in giving mindfulness a go, I highly recommend it.

The best part is that mindfulness is accessible to everyone because there are so many in-person and online classes you can take, books you can read, and even guided mindfulness meditation exercises to download.

9) Being proactive

When faced with adversity, you can do one of two things:

  • Sit around complaining about it
  • Get off your (pardon my French) a** and do something about it

You see, proactive people don’t stop because of a setback. They don’t give up when things get tough. They look for solutions and ways to overcome adversity.

So, if you want to be more resilient, you have to complain less and act more!

10) Grit

Not many people have true grit. But those that do, boy are they something else.

Grit is a personality trait that combines passion, perseverance, and a strong worth ethic – all with the aim of reaching a specific goal.

People with grit are all about getting where they set out to go, they won’t let anything stand in the way.

In short: If you have grit, you’re persistent, passionate, resilient, motivated, and extremely resilient in the face of adversity.

11) Resourcefulness

When you’re faced with a problem or a challenge, you’re not necessarily gonna have a bunch of tools and options available to you to get out of the situation.

That’s where resourcefulness comes in.

Resourceful people are able to make use of what is available to them to solve problems and achieve their goals.

Actually, being resourceful involves a lot of the traits I mentioned above – being adaptable, proactive, self-reliant, and flexible. But it also means being creative and being able to think out of the box.

All in all, resourcefulness is a good skill to have when it comes to building resilience and facing adversity.

12) Self-compassion

Self-compassion means treating oneself with kindness, understanding, and acceptance, especially when times get tough.

It’s an important factor in building resilience in the face of adversity for several reasons:

  • Reduces self-criticism

Self-compassionate people try not to engage in self-criticism and self-blame. Instead, they strive to treat themselves with kindness and understanding, even when faced with setbacks or failures. This is great for building resilience.

  • Increases emotional regulation

Self-compassionate people are good at regulating their emotions in the face of adversity. You see, by accepting themselves for who they are and being kind to themselves, they’re better able to manage negative emotions (such as stress, anxiety, fear, and anger) than people who don’t practice self-compassion.

That’s another point for resilience!

  • Enhances coping strategies

Another thing about self-compassionate people is that they have effective coping strategies. For example, seeking social support or engaging in self-care activities. This helps them manage stress and keep a positive outlook.

13) Empathy

Here’s the deal: Very empathetic people are great at connecting with others and building social support networks.

This means that when they’re facing adversity, they’re resilient because someone always has their back!

And here’s another thing. Empathetic individuals are good at communicating their needs and feelings to others, which helps them get the support and resources they need.

14) Gratitude

If you’ve read some of my other articles, you might have noticed that I like to throw in gratitude whenever I can.

That’s because I think it’s important to take some time to think about everything that’s going our way, and not just dwell on the obstacles, challenges, and setbacks.

So how can gratitude help you be more resilient?

Well, because grateful individuals tend to have a positive mindset which helps them maintain a positive outlook and cope with adversity.

And here’s another thing: Practicing gratitude can help you build resilience by increasing your sense of purpose in life.

You see, by focusing on the positive aspects of your life, you can develop a perspective that will help you cope with adversity.

15) Confidence in your abilities

When it comes to being resilient and overcoming adversity, self-confidence and confidence in your abilities could just be the thing that makes or breaks you.

You see, when faced with challenges, people who have a strong belief in their own capabilities are more likely to persevere and find ways to overcome adversity. Believing in yourself can help you stay motivated, maintain a positive outlook, and take action toward achieving your goals.

On the other hand, individuals who lack self-confidence usually struggle to cope with adversity and are more likely to give up because they feel overwhelmed by the challenges they’re facing.

Jelena Dincic

Jelena has a background in photography and film-making and has spent the last few years as a content editor and copywriter. Jelena is a citizen of the world who is passionate about travel and learning about new cultures. She’s a foodie who loves to cook. And, as an art lover, she is always experimenting with new art mediums. When she’s not at her computer, she’s usually out and about in some forest with her dogs.

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