People who have overcome hardship and become unstoppable in life usually have these 7 strengths

“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something,” says the Dread Pirate Roberts in the classic film The Princess Bride.

This sentiment is echoed in many other, less comical works of literature and religious texts. After all, we age, get sick, watch our loved ones pass away, and perhaps encounter other tragedies as we pass through life.

When we’re in the midst of these dreadful situations, we suffer and find it hard to imagine what life might be like once the time has passed.

But once it has and we’ve put some distance between ourselves and these hardships, we may find that we’ve actually experienced some growth because of them. Some people never get over their pain, while for others, life’s traumas can be hugely transformative and motivational.

People who have overcome hardship and become unstoppable in life usually have these seven strengths, which they continue to use every day to make the most of what they’ve got.

1) Positivity

It’s not that all people who come away from hardship in their lives end up being incredibly positive. Many don’t and remain stuck on the negativity in their situations.

But these aren’t the people who end up becoming unstoppable and really achieving a lot in life.

For those special souls, positivity has a huge role to play.

I have an ex who I’m still friends with and so I’m still allowed to talk about her in a positive light. While things didn’t work out for us, our split was totally amicable and there are no hard feelings there.

In fact, I don’t think she harbors hard feelings about anything, ever. She’s an incredibly positive person, and if you must know, she found me too negative for her, and that’s a big reason we parted ways.

Never mind that.

What’s important is that her life has been full of hardship. She was born into a really poor family, and that was made worse when her father passed away when she was 14. Her mother was a gambling addict who constantly ran the family into debt. Her brother became a serious alcoholic and was always in and out of jail.

Yet she ended up being the first person in her family to finish college and went on to run her own successful business.

Rather than letting the negativity of her past dictate her future, she developed an enormously positive attitude. She’ll tell you that life couldn’t get any worse, so how could her outlook for the future be anything but positive?

2) Tolerance and empathy

A lot of people find themselves in tough situations and fall into the trap of self-pity and resentment towards others luckier than themselves. 

It’s easy to see why.

I think we’ve all experienced instances when we really have to ask, “Why me?” when things go terribly wrong.

But this focus isn’t shared by everyone. In fact, people who learn from hardship and thrive do so because they have a lot of empathy. They understand the depths of the feelings of others because they’ve been there themselves.

So when people act badly or treat them less than well, they can display tolerance, turning the other cheek again and again.

They might not tolerate disrespectful behavior, but they can certainly understand and put up with the negativity, anger, and sadness that others might express. They feel their pain and sympathize instead of getting angry or affronted.

And this is really something of a superpower.

3) The ability to suffer

People who become unstoppable after overcoming hardship in their lives can tolerate a lot more than Negative, Nasty Nellies.

They often find themselves able to tolerate a lot more than they used to.

When we think of the expression “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” originally from Nietzsche, by the way, this is what we’re really talking about.

Why can these people suffer through things that they couldn’t previously?

The answer is pretty simple.

They’ve been down so low and found a way to get back up. So when they encounter something just as difficult, trying, or seemingly unbearable, they know they can bear it. They have proof because they survived something as bad or worse in the past.

This mindset helps people grow tremendously.

For example, in the past, I had trouble going more than a few hours between meals. I always felt unbearably hungry unless I was constantly eating. Then, a decade ago, a massive flood hit the area where I was living, destroying gardens, farms, and transportation networks. 

I found myself eating one meal of two packs of instant noodles and one boiled egg each day – shared between four people. After surviving nearly a week of starvation rations, things got back to normal. 

Except I was never again such a princess about my stomach growling ever again.

4) Resilience

signs pain from your past has made you exceptionally resilient People who have overcome hardship and become unstoppable in life usually have these 7 strengths

With the ability to suffer comes resilience, the ability to spring back from adversity like a green branch snapping back from a strong gust of wind.

Being down and coming back from it teaches people that they can do this again and again.

They can get back on the horse and ride, even if that horse bucked them off and they landed on their head.

Researchers have actually found that experiencing a moderate level of negative life experiences can bring people better mental health and well-being than never having experienced any at all. Of course, too much adversity has strong negative effects if it’s too much to overcome, but some is still better than none.

So rather than avoiding or fearing negative experiences, the people who learn to accept them and learn from them are the ones who’ll be able to become unstoppable in the future.

5) Vulnerability

I know what you’re thinking.

“Wait, I thought we were talking about strengths, not weaknesses!?”

Vulnerability is the state of exposing yourself to potential hurt, like a dog rolling over on its belly. But in the same that the dog usually avoids injury by making this submissive gesture to a scarier hound, exposing your softer side doesn’t have to be a weakness.

It can also be a strength.

After all, it takes a lot of bravery to be able to open yourself up like this and it’s not something that everyone is able to do. But the rewards can include greater depth and honesty in relationships, and that’s why showing vulnerability can be worth it.

People who have overcome adversity can often talk about their vulnerability in the past and in the present. They recognize that all the strength in the world can’t protect them from all hardship.

Instead, they learn to expose their vulnerability to build strong relationships that will offer them a lot more help in the future than just being “tough” ever could.

6) Gratitude 

When you’ve been through something terrible or disastrous and come out the other side, there are different ways to view that situation.

You could look at it as something hateful that made you suffer – something to be avoided at all costs.

Or you could see it as something that life threw at you that allowed you to learn and grow as a person. If this is your perspective, you’ll feel gratitude for not just the high points but also for all the low points in your life.

A good friend of mine was diagnosed with leukemia a few years ago. She was shocked and dismayed as her health quickly deteriorated. Yet she had support from her friends, and she suffered through courses of chemo and radiation treatments.

And once she beat it, she told us all how grateful she was for cancer. It had been the biggest challenge of her life, but she’d managed to get through it. She also recognized the importance of her network of support and felt like she’d finally learned to properly value the people in her life.

This gratitude she felt has motivated her to massively change her life, pursue a career she loves, and strengthen all of her relationships. 

7) Magnanimity

I don’t know why I can’t pronounce this word, but luckily, I just have to write it here.

It means being generous, understanding, and forgiving towards others, especially those less powerful or less wise than yourself.

And this is a quality that people who overcome hardship and adversity often have in spades.

They learn from their experiences that life is hard and each one of us has their own struggle. This can make people act badly or naively, but they’re quick to forgive and help people who haven’t learned life’s important lessons yet. 


People who have overcome hardship and become unstoppable in life usually have these seven strengths.

When you encounter one of these people, you’ll be able to see it in their eyes. While there might be some pain still there, there’s something much deeper – a resilience and wisdom that goes to the core of what it means to truly be alive.

Picture of Marcel Deer

Marcel Deer

Marcel is a journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur. When not obsessing over his man cave or the latest tech, he’s failing helplessly at training his obnoxious rescue dog ‘Boogies’.

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