9 signs you have exceptional character, according to psychology

Our perception of ourselves isn’t always as accurate as we think it is.

How many times have you thought an outfit looks bad on you, only to be complimented on it by a total stranger?

Or felt like you were having a bad hair day, but when you ask a friend, they say they didn’t notice because it looks just great?

That’s our brains thinking people perceive us in the way we do – which is often negative. It’s why a lot of us struggle with our self-confidence and sense of security.

If you can relate, you probably don’t get why people say you’re a great person. But there’s a pretty good chance that you’re way more extraordinary than you think!

Let’s take a look at these 9 signs you have an exceptional character, backed by psychology, so you can finally start believing it!

1) You try to understand people and the world

We’ll never understand everything and everyone. I, myself, have read countless books on psychology and consciousness to learn more about people – but I still find myself exclaiming, “I just don’t get it!” when friends do certain things.

But the point is, I try. I try to understand people and I do my best to accept the different ways of the world.

This kind of behavior, experts say, is a strong sign that you have (or practice) self-awareness. A good sense of self-awareness can strengthen your empathy, curiosity, creativity, and respect for others. It’s even been found to make you more attractive!

So if you try your best to have an open mind and question people’s behavior (in a positive way) whenever you can, you have an exceptional character, no doubt.

2) You work hard at your job

Having a good work ethic in your career is somewhat frowned upon these days. Yet it’s an important trait! But first, why is it shunned more than celebrated?

Historically, having a good work ethic was all about putting more hours in at your job and giving more than you needed to. But historically, you’d be rewarded for your input, whether it’d be a promotion or bonus. These days, working hard doesn’t often come with any reward at all.

Yet having a good work ethic is still a valuable skill today. Why? Of course, it can benefit your employer. But more importantly, experts say it can improve your job satisfaction and your self-confidence.

And since a strong work ethic is rumored to be on the decline, you’re exceptional if you’ve still got one and use it for good!

3) You look after yourself

I bet you didn’t expect this to be on the list, right? I’m not sure where the idea came from that “self-care is selfish”, because it couldn’t be further from the truth!

Knowing how to look after yourself isn’t easy. As a former people-pleaser, I know that! It takes confidence and security in yourself to say no to others.

It also takes self-awareness to know when you’re taking care of yourself a little “too” much (i.e., you’re crossing the line into selfishness!).

Taking care of yourself has so many benefits – from reduced stress and increased happiness to better careers and stronger relationships.

Which is why if you know how to do it right (without being selfish), you have an exceptional character – and it’s probably paying off in many areas of your life!

4) You do things for other people

Being an exceptional person isn’t just about looking after yourself. It’s about doing things you don’t particularly care for when it benefits other people, too!

Like if you’re invited to a friend’s house to make tiny baskets of only yellow smarties for her wedding. It takes forever and you hate it, but you do it anyway because she cares about it and you care about her.

All relationships take some sacrifice. You need to give sometimes, even when you don’t want to. Of course, you shouldn’t cross the line into people-pleasing and overstretching yourself for the sake of others.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard not to cross that line! But doing things for other people feels good and it makes you an exceptional friend (and person!).

Just remember that a key element of good friendships is reciprocation. There should be give and take with all the people you know.

5) You have lots of people you care about

I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that the more friends you have, the happier you’re likely to be, right? All you need to do is think about the last time you saw a good friend to remember how happy it made you!

But there are a bunch of interesting studies that detail exactly how having friends can positively benefit you and your life.

Like how Michigan State University found that friends were more important than family in making you feel loved and supported.

And how the University of Virginia found that the more friendships you have in adolescence, the less social anxiety and depression you have, plus a greater sense of self-worth.

And also how Ohio State University found that your performance at work improves when you work with friends. The reasoning is believed to be because friendship fosters more trust and respect for each other.

So all in all, if you have a lot of people in your life that you care about, it’s probably having a bigger impact on your overall character than you think – in a good way!

6) You stay calm in stressful situations

There’s a reason so many people put “works well under pressure” on their job applications. It’s because it’s a highly desirable trait – one that few people truly possess!

What happens when something goes wrong at work? Or when a friend randomly gets sick on a night out? Are you the person people look to in a crisis? Do you step up and step in, sorting everything out as best as you can?

If so, you’re pretty exceptional. Even if you don’t always get it right in how you respond to problems, it’s the thought that counts.

7) You’re honest when it matters

My brother says cruel things all the time in the name of honesty. He says he’s just being truthful when he tells people he doesn’t like their hobbies or their haircuts.

Personally, I think it’s a bit rude. But honesty is an important trait. Being truthful with others is a way to gain trust and be true to yourself.

Does that mean you have to be rude all the time (shoutout to my brother)? No, I don’t think it does. I think finding a balance between being truthful when it matters and keeping quiet when it doesn’t is what makes you an exceptional person.

As it turns out, some experts agree with me. “Brutal” honesty is celebrated by some, but we can’t forget how brutal it can be! When you’re too honest, it can deeply wound someone for years. In which case, what you did probably isn’t a good thing.

When you know how to walk the line between being honest when it’s important to be, (like when it’ll do good) rather than for the sake of it (like when it’ll cause harm), you’re a cut above the rest.

8) You open up about how you feel

Even if you don’t realize it, you probably want emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand yourself and others on a deep level.

In practice, this means you understand your goals clearly, know how/when you work best, and (most importantly) can build meaningful relationships with others. It also means you can talk openly about how you feel with people you know.

Bottling up your emotions is never good for you. It can hurt you in more ways than you think, including your physical health. It can also deeply hurt the people in your life, like your partner, family, or friends – even if you don’t think it ever will, it can.

So if you know how to talk about your emotions, even if you’ve only just started to get better at it, you have a better character than you think.

9) You say sorry when you’ve done wrong

Apologizing and admitting you’re wrong is weak, right? Absolutely not! Saying sorry and owning up to your wrongdoings is way more admirable than you think.

Experts have found that people with insecurity issues say sorry a little too much. It’s like when someone bumps into you and YOU say sorry to them for it (I’m even guilty of this sometimes!).

In these cases, you should probably practice saying sorry a little less. But on the flip side, if the word “sorry” just rolls off your tongue like this all the time, you’re a good person, there’s no doubt about it.

A ton of people don’t find these words so easy to say, especially when they’ve actually done wrong. So if you can do it with ease, you’re way more exceptional than you think.

Final thoughts

Negative thoughts in your head can get heavy. They can weave into your psyche and make you feel less than you are.

But chances are, this is just the “bad” side of your brain at work! The overly critical part that focuses on the negatives to protect you from heartache in the future.

So if you recognize these traits in yourself, cut yourself some slack already! You’re way more inspiring than you think you are and it’s about time you started noticing it.

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