Resilience When the Going Gets Rough


When the going gets rough, check your personality for its resilience quotient.   Resilience is the ability to cope with adversity, a most valuable trait to have in rough and tough times.

The last time we blogged about stress and resilience was in May 2021: “Personality and the Radical Stress of Social Isolation.”  The rough-going then was the stress of social isolation in the world of COVID.   That’s still with us, of course, but it’s not as bad now as it was then, except perhaps among the most vulnerable.

Front-burner adversities

Take your pick:  Inflation worries.  Recession worries.  Russia and Ukraine.  China and Taiwan.  Democracy vs. autocracy.  Mass shootings.  Civil war.  Global warming.  Immigration.  Homelessness.  Poverty.  Hunger.  COVID, will it always be here? Monkeypox.  And the list could–it does!–go on and on.

Secure jobs and financial stability provide strong buffers against the dark clouds for those most fortunate.  But imagine being a refugee from a country where citizens are starving while its tyrannical leaders bask in luxury.  How can anyone bear the terror of, say, fleeing in a rubber raft with your children, with no food or possessions? Or losing everything in a flood that destroyed your uninsured home?

Faces in the news

You can see it all in the faces shown in the news:  fear, confusion, despair, pain, helplessness.

But take another look at the faces in the news.  What you can also see if you look closely are images of courage, fortitude, determination, hope, endurance, and, yes, resilience!  These amazing images reflect the other side of the human experience.  It’s our nature to do our best to keep going, no matter the odds.

Key personality traits for survival

What are the personality traits of these desperate soldiers of survival?  It comes down to two defining features of a sturdy, healthy personality: First, belief in yourself and your capacity to cope. Second, trust in the support of family and friends.

Toss in “good genes,” good health, and experiences of surmounting some of life’s toughest challenges, and the odds of survival improve.

Locating your survival style

In the language of NPSP25, you can find the keys to resilience in your unique mix of personality styles.  With a combination of prominent Self-confident, Conscientious and Devoted styles, you’ll probably identify the strengths you need.   But to survive extreme adversity, generous helpings of Vigilant, Adventurous and even Aggressive styles could make the difference.  Check out the ingredients of each of these personality styles here.

In any case, look at your Self-Portrait to find your unique traits that help you bounce back from a crisis or stay strong in stormy times.  As a couple, family or team, your Group Self-Portrait will show you how you can cope together in difficult times.

Photo by Levi Meir Clancy on Unsplash