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Some people just seem to be better equipped for life than we are, right? Whatever happens to them, they seem to smoothly recover and keep going. Chances are that these people are psychologically resilient. Here’s the news you need to hear: anyone can become psychologically resilient with time and hard work.

What is Psychological Resilience?

Put simply, psychological resilience is the ability for someone to bounce back and recover from setbacks, challenges, and hardship. While it may seem like something you’re just born with, it is, in fact, a skill that is developed over time. People are hardened by adversity, and, as a result, become more capable of dealing with it. This is psychological resilience.

There are a number of factors that have an effect on people’s psychological resilience. Oftentimes, though, it comes from facing severe hardship for long periods of time. There are individuals in third-world countries who are forced to walk 20 miles just to get clean water. These people will not surrender when faced with failure, these people will rise up and fight back. This is true, raw resilience.

Psychologically Resilient People…

Psychologically resilient people have many characteristics but we’ve boiled it down to the essence of what it takes to be psychologically resilient. If you’re striving to become more resilient, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s break down the 19 Characteristics of Psychologically Resilient People.

Pursue Their Passion

First and foremost, psychologically resilient individuals know what they’re passionate about. They understand clearly and specifically what their long-term pursuits are. These pursuits are what start the fires in their bellies and drive them to tirelessly work for success. Joe DeSena, Spartan CEO and Founder, calls this your “True North” in his book The Spartan Way, and when you know your true north, nothing can stand in your way.

Effectively Set and Achieve Goals

Those who are psychologically resilient understand the importance of effective goal-setting and how it can impact how efficient and successful they are. Nothing will ever go exactly according to plan, but having a strong plan gives them the confidence to push through and overcome any obstacles they encounter.

Use Their Time Wisely

A psychologically resilient person understands that time is their most precious commodity, so they don’t waste time procrastinating and putting things off. They get shit done. This allows them to be more efficient. It also gives them the power to spend more time growing and honing their skillsets, and, as a result, they are stronger for the road ahead.

Persevere

Perseverance is one of the most important skills that can be developed. Perseverance, which some call grit, is the ability to continue to work at something despite any challenges and adversity. This can be a tough skill to master, but psychologically resilient people know the importance of perseverance. They know if they don’t persevere, then the first rock in their path will halt their entire march.

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Tennyson’s “Ulysses”
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Embrace Adversity

Someone who is psychologically resilient will embrace, and even seek out, adversity. They don’t see adversity as a hindrance, but rather as an opportunity to learn and grow. When someone overcomes adversity, they gain valuable experience (which later translates to wisdom) and the confidence to conquer any rock in their path.

Furthermore, the practice of stress inoculation allows people to create adversity for them to overcome. Essentially, this is practicing how to overcome adversity. It can come in many forms, some of which include physical adversity, emotional adversity, or social adversity.

A psychologically resilient female swimmer embraces adversity as she swims to a rock and plants a flag.
A female swimmer embracing adversity.

Get Out of Their Comfort Zone

Psychologically resilient people regularly get out of their comfort zone and push their limits. This goes hand-in-hand with embracing adversity because when you leave your comfort zone, you will inevitably find yourself faced with adversity. When you succeed outside of your comfort zone, you see that you’re capable of amazing things.

Continue to Learn

Understanding that they are a lifelong student is a characteristic of someone who is psychologically resilient. No one ever truly knows everything, so there will always be something more to learn. Since there is something new to learn from everyone, psychologically resilient people stay humble by remaining in a mindset of constant learning.

Additionally, The Japanese principle of Kaizen is a philosophy promoting continuous improvement. Although it is specifically used in business, it can easily be applied to everyday life as it focuses on improving productivity, commitment, and problem-solving abilities.

Learning and innovation go hand-in-hand. The arrogance of success is to think what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.

William Pollard

Share Their Knowledge & Experience

We all have overcome adversity (some more than others) and we all have unique experiences. Psychologically resilient people understand that while we all have something to learn, we also all have something to teach. Sharing these experiences with others perpetuates a cycle of wisdom that will benefit everyone involved.

The task of teaching others falls to those who have experienced. Sharing wisdom can be done through formal instruction, motivational speaking, or mentoring (among many other ways). This allows others to learn from their experiences, and it gives everyone the opportunity to take their own unique meaning from this wisdom.

A psychologically resilient man sharing his knowledge with a class.
A man giving back by sharing his knowledge with others.

Aren’t Affected by Negativity

There will always be negativity. It’s impossible to please everyone, so it’s naïve to expect to not have any negativity in your life. The difference between those with psychological resilience and everyone else is that resilient people don’t let it affect them. They are in control of their emotions, and, as a result, have thicker skin than most.

Additionally, though, psychologically resilient people don’t perpetuate negativity either. They voice their opinions and views respectfully without aggressively, maliciously, and deliberately attacking others.

Accept Criticism Graciously

There are more than 7 billion people in the world, so that also means there are more than 7 billion different opinions on any given topic. Psychologically resilient people recognize this and are receptive to constructive criticism. It’s important to at least graciously acknowledge this advice and consider it. Then, they take it under consideration and then decide whether or not to use it.

Make Commitments, Not Break Them

Psychologically resilient people understand the weight that their word carries. When they make a commitment, they keep it. This comes easy to them since they use their time wisely and are eager to face adversity. They take their commitments seriously and are very reliable individuals because of it.

Two individuals shaking hands as they commit to an agreement.
A commitment being made.

Take Responsibility

It is important to take responsibility for your actions. People with psychological resilience understand this very well.  They understand that their actions have consequences and, whether good or bad, they are prepared to accept the consequences. Consequences present the opportunity to learn from past experiences and allow adjustments to ensure future success.

Appreciate What They Have

Gratitude is a great practice for anyone to get into. Furthermore, with gratitude comes humility and a greater appreciation for what you have. Appreciation for not simply things but experiences and people as well. Psychologically resilient people understand this and it helps them to appreciate the little things and minimize their wants. As a result, they can be content with their life and what they have while also pursuing greater goals.

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Melody Beattie

Understand Their Emotions

To be psychologically resilient, you must be able to understand your emotions. People with psychological resilience understand themselves better than anyone. They know what will frustrate them, anger them, make them sad, or make them happy. Consequently, they know how to manage their emotional reactions to mitigate any damage or lapses in judgment.

Forgive

Forgiveness is a skill that many fail to master. It requires enough control over your emotions to set aside hard feelings. Since psychologically resilient people understand their emotions, they can oftentimes control them enough to forgive. Forgiveness eliminates any unnecessary stress from grudges and allows these individuals to maintain good relationships with others.

Have a Support System

No one can go it alone; the lone wolf mentality has been the downfall of so many. Psychologically resilient people know that they need support from friends, family, and mentors to succeed. For this reason, they surround themselves with a variety of people that build them up. They also do not hesitate to support others when they are in need.

A group of friends all putting their hands together to show unity and support.
A strong group of friends.

Build Others Up

Since they are humble and in control of their emotions, psychologically resilient people do not tear others down. In fact, they build them up. They understand the value of helping others grow and encouraging them to be better. Thus, they create an environment conducive to support and encouragement.

Build Themselves Up

Psychologically resilient people not only build others up, as it’s important that they build themselves up too. If they constantly tear themselves down, then they will have no confidence. On the other hand, if they build themselves up, then they have the confidence to go out and succeed.

Think Positively

Above all, it is important to be positive. A psychologically resilient people maintain a positive mindset with their goal in mind. This prevents doubt from slipping into their mind, but when it does, it also ensures that they are able to overcome it and carry on.

Ironically, this article was originally titled 19 Things Psychologically Resilient People Don’t Do, but in the spirit positivity, it was given a more affirmative title.

He who says he can’t and he who says he can are usually both right

Confucius

Are You Psychologically Resilient?

As you worked your way through this article, you likely found some areas that you identify with and also found some areas that you can improve upon. As I mentioned before, psychological resilience is not a trait that you’re born with, but rather it is a skill that is developed over time. So if you’re not there yet, don’t worry. You still have plenty of time. With hard work, dedication, and plenty of adversity, you’ll get there.

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