9 traits of people with high emotional resilience

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You were born as a human being, which means you have the innate potential to become antifragile. This is the ability to thrive as a result of shocks to the system.

If a plant spends too long in the heat, it wilts. If you do, you learn to be resistant to it.

Resilience doesn’t come automatically, though, especially in the realm of emotions. At its core, it’s a skill that can be learned – and one of the best ways to do just that is through changing your mindset.

These are the 9 traits of people with high emotional resilience.

1) They won’t let the 3Ps affect them

First and foremost, emotional resilience is all about the ability to recover after encountering stressors.

It’s about realizing that one flop does not define you and that one fail – or two, three, eight – does not equal failure overall.

This is where the mental resilience framework of the 3Ps by psychologist Martin Seligman comes in handy. When they don’t rise to meet life’s challenges, people with high emotional resilience resist the call of:

  • Personalization – they don’t tie their self-worth to their successes and failures
  • Pervasiveness – they don’t make a mountain out of a molehill, thinking that one fail means a bleak future where everything goes wrong
  • Permanence – they don’t assume this problem will last forever; they know it will eventually pass, just as all problems have passed before

This strategy lets you detach yourself from specific outcomes and focus on the journey instead.

2) When a tree falls, they focus on the forest

3P resistance comes from a strong sense of purpose. When you’re able to see the forest – i.e., what you want from life – a couple of fallen trees won’t deter you.

In fact, emotionally resilient people understand that some trees will need to fall so that the forest can thrive. Old trees, sick trees, infested trees, these are all things that no longer serve you and are only getting in the way.

And sometimes, half the forest will burn. Sometimes, the failure will be too huge to overlook because everything seems to be on fire, and you can’t see in all the smoke.

But you know what?

In many forests, wildfires ensure ecological balance. Yes, that’s right – a fire can be something you need in order to thrive.

When there’s no failure, there’s no success. Emotionally resilient people know this and view failure as a necessary stepstone that brings them closer to their goal.

3) They use comparison effectively

Looking at failure through the lens of comparison can be an effective tool. You’re free to think over all the ups and downs in the past, reflect on how they’ve changed you, and compare your reactions to adversity over time.

But comparison can easily get out of hand.

Before you know it, you’re comparing yourself to the people around you or to your results from yesterday.

There is one thing about comparison that many people don’t understand, however – it only works in the great scheme of things.

Let’s say you’re writing a book. You might write 1000 words one day, 3500 the next, and 200 the one after that. As you can see, the progress isn’t linear – you might have had an amazing coffee on the second day and felt sick on the third.

If you just keep writing, though, you’ll have a completed draft in a year. As opposed to no draft, that is definitely a huge step forward.

The key to resilience is the ability to look at things from an encouraging perspective. Use comparison when it motivates you. See your growth as something that moves and ebbs in the short term while flourishing in the long term.

4) They process their emotions freely

Another essential component of emotional resilience lies in how you approach your emotions.

Do you let them flow freely through you? Or do you suppress them?

This is super important when it comes to the healing process after you encounter a setback.

According to research, the process should look something like this:

  • Deteriorating (shock, sadness, grief)
  • Adapting (getting through the situation in one piece)
  • Recovering (your emotional state returns to the status quo)
  • Growing (your resilience strengthens)

The first stage is the interesting bit. “Deteriorating” sounds off-putting, like something we should avoid.

But it’s the complete opposite. Letting yourself feel all the negative emotions that come as a result of failure is a great way to cleanse yourself.

Cry. Scream. Lift some weights. Go for a run.

This way, there won’t be any emotional residue going forward, which means you’ll have more space to focus on what truly matters.

5) They are their best friends

When you let yourself feel whatever it is you need to feel, you’re being a good friend. You’re saying to yourself, “It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be angry. Your emotions are valid.”

This is something emotionally resilient people are particularly great at – they aren’t too harsh on themselves. They know how important self-compassion is when it comes to failure.

If you tell yourself to man up and ignore the emotional hurricane inside you, the feelings won’t go away. They’ll just bury themselves deeper, causing more havoc in the future.

Listen to your body without judgment. Tell yourself the words you need to hear. Be your best friend.

6) They know when to push themselves out of their comfort zone

As I said above, we shouldn’t be too harsh on ourselves.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any self-discipline. Discipline and compassion are a tight rope to balance on, but people with high emotional resilience know just where to place their feet.


The answer’s simple. They know themselves exceptionally well.

They recognize that the best way to grow in resilience is to constantly go outside their comfort zone, push themselves to face challenges and do the things that scare them.

But they also know their limits, including all the small steps they need to make if they ever want to push that ceiling.

If you’re terrified of heights, you don’t go bungee jumping the moment you get the chance. No, you start small.

Climbing the stairs to the top floor of a building. Hiking up a mountain. Visiting an observation tower.

Slow but steady wins the race. Know when to push and know when to let yourself off the hook.

7) They know things are scarier in their head than in reality

Pushing yourself step by step is only possible if you have the right approach to life.

And which one is that, I hear you ask?

The one where you don’t get in your head too much. Real life is out there, in the great outdoors – it’s not in the confines of your mind where worries spiral like a joy-sucking vortex.

The reason some people are highly emotionally resilient is that they understand their minds like to make things up. Things that don’t reflect reality.

Therefore, they purposely decide not to take these thoughts too seriously.

I like to compare this to the pre-exam stress. When you’re taking an exam, the worst part is the anticipation. What if you don’t know the answer? What if this and that?

The moment the exam starts, all worries vanish. You’re fully in the present moment, focusing on the task in front of you. Suddenly, you’re not scared. You’re too busy for that.

Fear gets like that sometimes. Resilience is about pushing through it.

8) They can laugh at their insignificance

If you take life too seriously, you’re going to move through your day like a high-voltage current of anxiety. Everything can rattle you.

One of the best things about emotional resilience is humor. It’s the realization that it just ain’t that serious.

You live on a tiny planet enveloped by a dark vacuum. One day, you’ll be gone, and all the hiccups you’re dealing with now will be all but forgotten.

An annoying boss? Puff. Gone.

A towering pile of “urgent” emails? Puff. Gone.

That one time you spilled beer all over a customer’s dress (been there, done that)? Gone, gone, gone.

Your primary purpose in life is to experience. If the experience gets a little ridiculous, laugh.

Our lives are so insignificant in the grand scheme of things that there is humor in basically everything.

9) They are filled with gratitude

Lastly, gratitude is your second best friend when it comes to resilience (because the first one is you, remember?).

Research shows that gratitude promotes well-being in the face of adversity, and for a good reason – it’s all about acknowledging the good in the world.

It’s amazing to have goals, but it’s even better to appreciate what you already have. Think of all the struggles you’ve overcome. Be proud of how far you’ve come.

Sometimes, all it takes to feel grateful is to tell myself one single sentence: “I am living the dream of the younger me.”

Resilience got you here. Resilience will take you further. So strap in and enjoy the ride.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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