How to Develop a Survivor Personality and Thrive During Adversity

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How to Develop a Survivor Personality and Thrive During Adversity

What is a Survivor's Personality?

Characteristics of a survivor are the ability to dig deep down and find ways to cope during adversity and eventually find the gift that is left behind. Surviving hardship includes a certain mindset, flexibility, and positive goals. A survivor is resilient in distressing circumstances and makes things turn out well. 

You can learn to be a survivor. Unfortunately, it can't be taught but it can be coached. It's where theory meets application and you have to adjust as you go through your hardship.  Everybody's survival experience is different. No two are ever alike.

 Our Attitudes Determine Our Survival

According to Al Siebert, PhD in his books The Survivor Personality and The Resiliency Advantage, "Our attitudes determine our well-being more than our circumstances." Some people thrive in the same adversity that others find overwhelming.

We might not have control over our situation but we have control over our thoughts. When adversity hits, we have the choice to become a victim of our circumstances or a victor over our circumstances. It all depends on your attitude.

Survivor characteristics develop out of everyday habits that strengthen your coping skills and chances of survival should it become necessary. For example, if you have to adhere to strict deadlines at work each month then you know your focus and concentration increases the closer your deadline approaches. You realize you can't let yourself get distracted or you'll miss your deadline. This same focus and concentration comes in handy in an unexpected emergency situation.

 Survivors Are Mentally and Emotionally Flexible

In the book "The Survivor Personality", an important trait of survivors is their adaptability or flexibility in any situation. They are not one way OR the other but survivors are both one way AND the other. 

Most people are either optimistic or pessimistic, Type A or Type B personality, and extroverted or introverted. However, survivors can be both. Biphasic personality traits increase the ability to survive in any situation or fall somewhere in between the two extremes. The longer the list of opposing traits, the more complex you are and more adaptable to successfully deal with whatever situation develops.

Adaptation is the key to survival. People who can't handle life well usually have one way of acting in all situations. The survivor thinks that their personality traits are a function of how they choose to interact with the situation they are in. Survivors adapt and overcome their circumstances.

Survivors Are Good Troubleshooters

Survivors are good troubleshooters because they are handy and creative and come up with easy solutions to difficult problems. They want and need things to work smoothly and easily and they possess common sense to make it happen.

Synergy is their primary motivation in life. Survivors are not prone to complaining. If something isn't working well, they feel the urge to make improvements. Their goal is a win/win situation.

According to Al Siebert, the following is a list of ways you can become more synergistic:

  • In difficult situations, ask yourself "How can I interact with this situation so things work out for everyone involved?"
  • Look for creative ways for things to work out well by asking those involved for their input to a positive solution.
  • Search for ways to convert obstacles into opportunities to makes things work better.
  • Develop a personal code of moral principles and ethical practices.

One way to recognize you are developing a synergistic nature is that you accomplish more with less effort. Survivors think not of time management but of energy management. Work smarter, not harder. 

Siebert tells of a soap manufacturing company that received a complaint from a customer that an empty box arrived without their soap order. The company saw this as a quality control issue and involved their engineers to come up with a solution. The engineers designed an elaborate scanning system but due to its complexity it would take time to implement. A line worker came up with a temporary solution of putting a strong fan at the end of the production line that would blow off any empty boxes. A perfect example of work smarter, not harder.

Survivors Have a Talent For Serendipity

Survivors have the ability to turn obstacles into opportunities. Adversity can take your life in a different and better direction than you could have imagined. Serendipity is not good luck or a lucky accident, it's transforming hardship into growth.

Highly resilient people can turn a life-disruptive event into a gift through creativity. Your ability to turn hardship into growth allows you to discover strengths you didn't know you had. 

When looking for the gift from adversity, hunt the good stuff. Ask yourself "What good can come out of this?" Look at the situation from all angles.

Change is hard but it can lead to new opportunities you would not have pursued if things remained the same.

 Survivors Adapt to New Realities Quickly

 Survivors adapt to new realities by being aware of their surroundings. They notice clues that something or someone is out of place. The quick scan of a critical situation includes a fast read of what people are doing and then acting or reacting immediately. The more quickly a person assesses the complete picture of what is happening then the better their chance is of survival.

When faced with a crisis, survivors are able to regulate their emotions and not panic. Panic is an emotional response that interferes with logical thought processes and lessens your chance of survival. Survivors set their emotion aside and are able to quickly evaluate the facts.

10 Tips to Develop a Survivor Personality

1. Ask questions. Developing your curiosity to new situations increases your ability to understand the big picture of what is happening.

2. Increase your emotional and mental flexibility. Tap into your biphasic personality traits in different situations. Survivors are flexible and adapt to their circumstances.

3. Accept change with uncertainty is a way of life going forward. Change is going to happen in life. Commit to hunting the good in every situation. If you look for opportunities in hardship, you will find them.

4. Learn from all experiences. Failures are different from mistakes. Failure is when you stop trying. Mistakes are lessons learned from how not to do something. 

5. Develop empathy. Put yourself in someone else's shoes. Look at the situation from their eyes and understand what they see and feel about how they want the issue to be resolved. Look for the win/win solution so things work out for everyone involved.

6. Don't put labels on people. Labels reinforce the perception of someone's behavior and restricts you to see their ability to change. Instead of saying someone is a jerk, say someone is acting like a jerk. Address their behavior, not their character.

7. Make time to observe and reflect. Take time to scan your surroundings and observe what is happening around you. Set your emotion aside and reflect on the facts. Do you see red flags or warning clues?

8. Find ways to be useful in situations. Survivors like synergy. What can you do so things work out well for all involved? Your ability to be useful in a situation makes your valuable and valued.

9. Appreciate yourself. Your self-esteem determines how much you learn in difficult situations. The stronger your self-esteem, the more you learn.

10. Follow the survive and thrive sequence. Balance your emotions, adapt and cope in your immediate situation, thrive by learning and improving the situation for those involved, and then find the gift in your hardship.

You can transform hardship into growth and become a survivor. With each adversity, your toolbox of resiliency skills grows and you become mentally and emotionally stronger. A difficulty that almost breaks your spirit can become one of the best things that every happened to you.

Do you have a Survivor Personality? What skills do you have and what do you need to improve?


Daily Mantra: Hunt the good stuff, find the humor, keep positive, and focus on your blessings. God can bring good out of every situation!





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