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Traits of Strong People & the Survivor Personality


The Survivor Personality

We all face challenges and difficult times in life. Yet, some people seem to navigate these tough moments with so much more remarkable strength and resilience. What sets these people apart? They possess what we call a “survivor personality.” In this blog, I want to explore some of the key character traits that define strong people and how you can develop a survivor personality and better coping skills to deal with life’s challenges as part of your personal growth.

Understanding the Survivor Personality

A survivor personality is characterized by a unique set of traits that help people endure and thrive despite adversity. These character traits and human behavior are not always natural; they can be developed through awareness and practice. 

Let’s explore these traits of the survivor personality and understand how they contribute to resilience. Remember that trauma or a traumatic event doesn’t have to define your life. You can heal.

Having a Positive Attitude

A positive attitude is a cornerstone of the survivor personality, and it can take some time to develop if you’ve been living with a negative attitude for most of your life. This was one of the first things I worked on in my personal growth journey. 

character traits of a survivor

People with a positive outlook on life are better equipped to handle stress and adversity. They see challenges as opportunities for growth rather than insurmountable obstacles.

This mindset helps them maintain emotional balance and stay motivated even during difficult times.

Benefits of a Positive Attitude:

  • Reduced Stress: A positive mindset reduces the stress response, helping you stay calm in the face of challenges.
  • Improved Health: Studies show that positive thinkers tend to have better overall health, including lower rates of cardiovascular disease.
  • Greater Success: Positivity can lead to greater success in personal and professional endeavors, as it fosters resilience and persistence.

Tips to Cultivate a Positive Attitude:

  • Practice Gratitude: Take time each day to reflect on the things you are grateful for. Some of the best things in life are truly the most simple things around us: nature, animals, the fresh air, etc. This simple practice can shift your focus from negative to positive aspects of your life.
  • Surround Yourself with Positive People: The people around you can greatly influence your outlook. Surround yourself with those who uplift and inspire you.
  • Engage in Positive Self-Talk: Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Remind yourself of your strengths and past successes.
  • Heal your nervous system: Our nervous system traps negative energy and trauma. Being able to release that energy allows you to feel more positive emotions. 

Living with Emotional Balance

Maintaining emotional balance is crucial for surviving tough situations. Strong people manage their emotions well, avoiding negativity or toxic positivity extremes. This balance allows them to remain calm and focused, making better decisions under pressure.

survivor personality

When our body is balanced, our mind is balanced, giving us more clarity and emotional well-being.

Remember, we are all human beings and aren’t perfect; finding emotional balance when handling life’s difficulties is a skill to be practiced. 

Strategies for Achieving Emotional Balance:

  • Mindfulness Meditation: Regular practice of mindfulness helps you stay present and manage your emotions effectively.
  • Physical Activity: Exercise is a natural stress reliever and can help regulate emotions.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Adequate sleep, a balanced diet, and avoiding substances like alcohol and drugs can significantly impact your emotional stability.

Having Resilience and Adaptability

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks, while adaptability is the capacity to adjust to new circumstances. These traits define the survival personality, and we can all learn to be more resilient and adaptable.

These character traits enable people to cope with major life stresses and even the most difficult times. Resilient people recover quickly from failures and adapt to changing situations without losing focus or drive.

Building Resilience and Adaptability:

  • Embrace Change: See change as an inevitable part of life. The more you accept it, the better you can adapt to new situations.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Break down larger goals into smaller, manageable steps. This makes it easier to progress and adjust as needed.
  • Develop Problem-Solving Skills: Learn to approach problems methodically, breaking them down into smaller parts and tackling them one by one.

Living with Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Effective coping mechanisms are essential for managing stress and trauma. When you have trauma, your nervous systems operate a little differently than others. So, healing your nervous system to adapt and improve coping skills is huge. 

Strong people with a survival personality have developed a toolkit of survival skills that help them deal with adversity. These skills include problem-solving, seeking social support, and engaging in activities that promote mental health.

Effective Coping Strategies:

  1. Problem-Solving: Break down challenges into smaller, manageable tasks. This makes them less overwhelming and easier to tackle.
  2. Seeking Support: Reach out to friends, family, or professional counselors. Sharing your struggles can provide relief and new perspectives.
  3. Healthy Distractions: Engage in hobbies or activities that you enjoy. This can provide a mental break and reduce stress levels.

The Role of Childhood Trauma

Interestingly, many survivors of adversity report having faced significant challenges early in life, such as childhood trauma. While difficult childhood experiences can be deeply scarring (yes, they were for me too), they can also foster a survivor mentality. You can develop better coping skills when you begin to understand how childhood trauma is impacting your behavior and decisions. Click here to learn more about breaking trauma cycles.

People who overcome early trauma often develop a heightened sense of resilience and a deeper understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. I can say this is absolutely true for me. 

Understanding Childhood Trauma:

  • Long-Term Effects: Childhood trauma can have lasting impacts on mental and physical health, but it can also build resilience.
  • Growth Through Adversity: Many people who face early challenges develop strong coping mechanisms and a robust survivor mentality.
  • Seeking Help: Therapy and counseling can help individuals process and overcome the effects of childhood trauma, turning it into a source of strength.

What is The Survivor’s Mindset?

The survivor’s mindset involves a belief in one’s ability to overcome difficulties. This mindset is not about being unfeeling or dismissing the gravity of challenges; it’s about facing adversity with a proactive and hopeful attitude. Here are some key components of the survivor’s mindset:

Realistic Optimism

Realistic optimism is about acknowledging the difficulties ahead but believing in your capacity to overcome them. This outlook combines a hopeful attitude with a clear-eyed view of reality, helping individuals stay motivated and focused.

Developing Realistic Optimism:

  • Acknowledge Challenges: Don’t ignore the difficulties you face. Acknowledge them and understand their implications.
  • Focus on Solutions: Instead of dwelling on problems, focus on finding solutions and taking actionable steps.
  • Maintain Hope: Keep a hopeful outlook, believing in your ability to overcome obstacles and achieve your goals.

Developing Realistic Purpose and Goals

Having a sense of purpose and clear goals provides direction and meaning during tough times. Survivors often set both short-term and long-term goals, giving them something to strive for and a sense of progress.

Setting Purposeful Goals:

  • Identify Your Values: Understand what is most important to you. Align your goals with your core values for greater fulfillment.
  • Create a Vision: Develop a clear vision of what you want to achieve in both the short and long term.
  • Stay Flexible: Be prepared to adjust your goals as circumstances change. Flexibility is key to maintaining progress.

Working on Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s ability to achieve desired outcomes. People with high self-efficacy are more likely to take on challenges and persist in the face of difficulties. This confidence in their capabilities is a key aspect of the survivor personality.

Boosting Self-Efficacy:

  • Celebrate Small Wins: Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. This builds confidence.
  • Learn from Failures: View failures as learning opportunities. Analyze what went wrong and how you can improve.
  • Seek Feedback: Constructive feedback from trusted sources can help you grow and enhance your self-efficacy.

Steps to Developing Your Survivor Personality

Developing a survivor personality involves cultivating the character traits and skills discussed above. Here are some practical steps to help you build resilience and better cope with life’s challenges:

Cultivate a Positive Attitude

Practice gratitude and focus on the positives in your life. Engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. By consciously adopting a positive outlook, you can better navigate tough times.

Daily Practices for Positivity:

  • Gratitude Journaling: Write down three things you are grateful for each day. This practice shifts your focus to the positive aspects of your life.
  • Affirmations: Use positive affirmations to reinforce your strengths and abilities. Repeat them daily to build confidence.
  • Acts of Kindness: Engage in small acts of kindness. Helping others can boost your own mood and outlook.

Develop Healthier Coping Skills

Identify and develop effective coping strategies that work for you. This might include problem-solving, seeking social support, or engaging in physical exercise. Having various coping mechanisms will prepare you to handle different types of stress and improve how you handle everyday conflicts.

Developing Coping Strategies:

  • Problem-Solving: When faced with a challenge, break it down into smaller, manageable steps. This approach makes it easier to tackle the problem and reduces feelings of overwhelm.
  • Seeking Social Support: Reach out to friends, family, or professional counselors when you need help. Talking about your challenges can provide relief and new perspectives.
  • Physical Exercise: Regular physical activity is a great way to manage stress. Find a form of exercise you enjoy, whether it’s jogging, yoga, or dancing.
  • Creative Outlets: Engaging in creative activities like painting, writing, or playing an instrument can provide an emotional release and reduce stress.
  • Relaxation Techniques: Incorporate relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation into your daily routine.
  • Time Management: Efficiently managing your time can reduce stress and increase your sense of control. Prioritize tasks, set realistic goals, and take breaks when needed.

Strengthen Your Support Network

Invest time in building and maintaining strong relationships. Surround yourself with supportive people who encourage and uplift you. A robust social network is a crucial asset in times of adversity and can help improve positive outcomes in your life.

Social Support

Strong social connections are a critical resource for survivors. Having a network of supportive friends and family provides emotional support, practical assistance, and a sense of belonging. These relationships act as a buffer against stress and help you recover from setbacks. Finding others who embody the survival personality you aim to create is important.

Looking for more support? Join our trauma-informed community, The Women’s Healing Collective.

Building a Support Network:

  • Nurture Relationships: Invest time and effort into your relationships. Quality connections are more valuable than quantity.
  • Be Open: Share your struggles and successes with trusted friends and family. Openness fosters deeper connections.
  • Join Communities: Engage in groups or communities that share your interests or challenges. This can provide additional support and understanding.
  • Nurture Existing Relationships: Spend quality time with friends and family. Make an effort to be present and engage in meaningful conversations.
  • Expand Your Network: Join clubs, groups, or organizations that align with your interests. This can help you meet new people and expand your support system.
  • Be a Supportive Friend: Offer your support to others. Being there for friends and family not only helps them but can also strengthen your own relationships.
  • Seek Professional Help: Don’t hesitate to reach out to therapists or counselors if you need additional support. Professional guidance can be invaluable during difficult times.

Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

Incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine. This is one of the most important skills you can learn in your life. Techniques like meditation, yoga, and mindful breathing can help you stay present and manage stress more effectively.

survival skills

Practices like mindfulness and meditation can enhance emotional regulation and resilience.

These techniques help individuals stay present, manage stress, and cultivate a positive attitude, all of which are crucial for coping with adversity.

Incorporating Mindfulness into Your Day:

  • Start Your Day with Mindfulness: Begin each day with a few minutes of mindful breathing or meditation. This sets a calm tone for the rest of the day.
  • Mindful Eating: Pay attention to the taste, texture, and smell of your food. Eating mindfully can enhance your enjoyment of meals and help you stay present.
  • Mindful Breaks: Take short breaks throughout the day to practice mindful breathing or stretching. These breaks can help reset your mind and reduce stress.
  • Mindful Walking: When walking, focus on the sensation of your feet touching the ground and the rhythm of your breath. This practice can turn a regular walk into a calming activity.
  • Evening Reflection: End your day with a few minutes of mindfulness or meditation. Reflect on the day’s events without judgment and let go of any lingering stress.
  • Daily Practice: Set aside time each day for mindfulness or meditation. Even a few minutes can make a difference.
  • Mindful Breathing: Focus on your breath as a way to anchor yourself in the present moment.
  • Body Scans: Regularly check in with your body to release tension and stay grounded.

Build Emotional Balance

Learning to manage your emotions through techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and journaling is incredibly valuable. Understanding and regulating your emotional responses will help you stay calm and focused during stressful situations.

Techniques for Emotional Regulation:

  • Deep Breathing Exercises: Deep, slow breaths can help calm your nervous system. Try inhaling for a count of four, holding for four, and exhaling for four. This simple technique can reduce anxiety and stress almost immediately.
  • Mindfulness Meditation: Regular mindfulness practice helps you stay present and reduces the impact of negative emotions. Set aside a few minutes each day to sit quietly, focusing on your breath or a simple mantra.
  • Journaling: Writing about your thoughts and feelings can provide clarity and relief. Journaling allows you to process emotions and gain insight into your emotional patterns.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This technique involves tensing and then slowly relaxing each muscle group in your body. It can help release physical tension and promote relaxation.
  • Visualization: Imagine a peaceful scene or a situation where you feel confident and in control. Visualization can help shift your focus away from stress and promote a sense of calm.
  • Physical Activity: Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. Even a short walk can help regulate your emotions and reduce stress.
  • Listening to Music: Music can have a powerful effect on your emotions. Create a playlist of your favorite calming or uplifting songs to listen to when you need an emotional boost.

Understanding & Applying Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections, plays a significant role in resilience. Challenge your brain by learning new skills and engaging in intellectually stimulating activities. This will enhance your mental flexibility and resilience, making you better equipped to handle change and adversity. Learn more about how the brain can heal from emotional trauma.

Activities to Enhance Neuroplasticity:

  • Learn a New Language: Studying a new language can significantly boost cognitive function and flexibility.
  • Play Brain Games: Engage in puzzles, Sudoku, chess, or other games that challenge your brain.
  • Take Up a New Hobby: Whether it’s painting, playing a musical instrument, or cooking, learning something new can enhance brain plasticity.
  • Read Regularly: Reading a variety of genres expands your knowledge and stimulates your brain.
  • Physical Exercise: Activities like dance, which combine physical movement with learning new patterns, are particularly effective for brain health.
  • Social Interaction: Engaging in meaningful conversations and social activities stimulates cognitive processes and emotional health.
  • Learn New Skills: Continuously challenge your brain by learning new things, whether it’s a language, instrument, or hobby.
  • Stay Physically Active: Physical exercise has been shown to promote brain health and neuroplasticity.
  • Maintain a Growth Mindset: Believe in your ability to grow and adapt. This mindset encourages continuous learning and resilience.

The traits of strong people and the survivor personality are not exclusive to a select few. And yes, it might take some hard work to really embrace all the character traits of a strong survivor, but it can be done. By understanding and cultivating these traits, anyone can develop the resilience and skills needed to thrive in the face of adversity.

the survivor personality

Remember, the key to a survivor personality lies in a positive attitude, emotional balance, resilience, and effective coping mechanisms. With dedication and practice, you can build a mindset that not only helps you survive but also flourish in challenging times.

Developing a survivor personality involves continuous growth and learning. Be patient with yourself, and remember you are a human being, doing the best you can. 

It’s about embracing the journey and recognizing that each step, no matter how small, contributes to your overall resilience and strength. By incorporating these strategies into your daily life, you can enhance your ability to cope with adversity and lead a more fulfilling, balanced life.

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