The 10 Traits of Emotionally Resilient People


Ever notice how some people are stressed during transitions while others can “roll with the punches?” It all comes down to emotional resilience. While some of it may be biological, there are 10 traits that you can start cultivating today to start living life with less resistance and more ease:

Emotionally Resilient People:

1. ...Wait for what’s right over what you want right now.

Yup, just like the classic Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, this is about impulse control- the ability to stop and consider whether you want to act on a desire. For example, when a family member makes you angry, your immediate response might be to lash out. However, impulse control allows you to pause and assess whether that’s really the best course of action in the long run. Delaying gratification and controlling our urges allows us to choose actions that align with our best intentions.

2. ...Sit with discomfort

Similar to #1, those who are emotionally resilient are able to tolerate discomfort. Remember that thing you said out of anger? (or hunger?) How would that response have been different if you had tolerated your discomfort for an hour? While #1 was about choosing the best action, this is about sitting with an emotion without taking any action.

3. ...Get some perspective.

If you’ve ever said to yourself, “hindsight is 20/20,” then you recognize the possibility that it may be true for your current situation.  Often, when we’re in the trenches, it’s hard to see the bigger picture. Sometimes things happen FOR you, not TO you. What seems painful now might actually be the gift you couldn’t give yourself.

4. ...Practice acceptance.

Acceptance is not the same as complacence. It’s not about giving up and letting the stress take over, it's about experiencing the full range of your emotions, trusting that you’ll bounce back. 

5. ...Remember the power of time.

The emotionally resilient remember that time heals all wounds. People who have a tendency to feel depressed often fear spiraling back into it, but feeling an emotion is not the same as getting caught in it. Think back to the last time you felt like this, you may have thought it was the end of the world, but you recovered. The same is true now.

6. ...Don’t need all the answers.

Often, when we try hard to find answers to difficult questions, we “try too hard.” This blocks our intuition and prevents us from receiving answers. The emotionally resilient know that it's okay to not have it all figured out. They trust that they will find the answers when they are ready.

7. ...Engage in self-care.

Emotionally resilient people know that self-care is a non-negotiable. It’s a daily practice and commitment to self that strengthens their inner resolve. Ranging from exercise, to meditation, to a cup of tea, the resilient have go-to stress busters that don’t involve hitting the bottle.

8. ...Can laugh it off.

Sometimes things just suck and you simply need to laugh it off. Humor goes a long way.

9. ...Choose to be happy instead of being right.

Emotionally resilient people know that being right is not what will make them happy. Sure, it’s nice to be right, but it’s better to be happy. Ask yourself is this fight really worth it? Are you fighting to resolve the situation or fighting to win it? In any moment you can choose what’s more important to you: the relationship or your pride. 

10. ...Cultivate joy and gratitude.

Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, the resilient focus on what’s right. There is always something to be thankful for. Remember, where attention goes, energy flows. So why not cultivate more of what you want instead of what you don’t.


Ultimately, emotional resilience is all about attitude.  As Bo Bennet said, “Having a positive mental attitude is asking how something can be done rather than saying it can’t be done.” By developing these 10 traits, you’ll be able to spend more time living with ease and grace, spending more time in the light with fleeting moments of darkness. Or, you can continue to fight tooth and nail and see where that gets you. The choice is yours.

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