“You have power over your mind ―not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
— Marcus Aurelius
Imagine how it would feel to face something you always dreaded and still be confident you are going to come out of it just fine.
That’s what emotional resilience looks like in real life.
Change is an unchangeable truth of life and where there is change, there’s always the possibility of stress. How you deal with it shows your inner strength & emotional maturity.
It will be easier for you to handle tough situations if you’re motivated to take action rather than wallow in “it’s not fair”. If you are convinced of the ‘why’ behind these actions, moving on becomes much easier.
Resilience needs you to
- be open to the idea that there might be things out of your control, but
- choose anyways to focus on the elements that you do have control over.
WHY work on developing emotional resilience
Emotional resilience is one of the major things that will decide how efficiently and how far you go in life…because your attitude to stress determines whether you would give up or go in more full on when things get tough.
When you know -
- How to experience and not ignore your emotions.
- When it’s time to get yourself together & start moving forward.
- How to look at the bigger picture, collect your lessons learnt, and make an aware choice for your next step…
…the list of things that can possibly stop you, becomes significantly shorter.
HOW do you develop emotional resilience
“I was always looking outside for strength & confidence, but it comes from within. It is there all the time.”
— Anna Freud
1st step: Acknowledge daily stress
Managing your daily stress is like doing the groundwork, creating a strong foundation. When we ignore the daily little stressors as “that’s just life” and allow it to pile up — it leads us to overwhelm and overload burnout.
Emotional resilience comes from acknowledging, accepting & facing problems, not from ignoring them. So, schedule at least 15 minutes everyday to unwind & relax.
Do whatever makes YOU feel recharged…go out, stay in, do nothing, party, jump in puddles…anything. It will help your mind reboot, just like Anne Lamott says, “almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
2nd step: Clear your mental clutter
Every night, write down everything that’s floating around in your head. It becomes easier to find a pattern, make ideas form a clear shape, discard what’s not important, and plan around your priorities when you can see them written down.
It’s called maintaining a brain dump diary — something like brainstorming but with thoughts already cluttering your mind.
According to Dr. James Pennebaker in his book ‘Writing to Heal’, “people who engage in expressive writing report feeling happier and less negative than before writing.”
- Find the real reason why you are involved in the thing that’s stressing you. This importance of this ‘why’ will motivate you to focus on finding a solution & think creatively.
- If you are finding it hard to get to a solution straight away, step back and do something totally unrelated. You’ll most often than not see a pattern emerging when your subconscious mind has had time to work out the kinks.
- And even if you can’t find anything positive or good in what’s happening with you right now, remember things make more sense in hindsight. So keep moving forward and do the best you can.
3rd step: Audit what you’re feeding your mind
The way to building emotional resilience is to train your mind to focus on what’s possible while staying aware of the complete picture…putting on blinders doesn’t help.
But at the same time, take care what kind of information you are feeding it because negativity drains away the energy meant to handle stress — have you ever noticed how tiring it feels after talking to a whiny person or listening to morbid coverage of events?
- It’s good to know what’s happening in the world around you…but, is it mostly depressing negative news, or do you actively seek out what corrective and progressive things are being done for them?
- Are the people you connect with mostly offer you constructive feedback or destructive criticism?
- After a rough patch, is your self-talk, how you word your thoughts, sound judgmental and the failure a reflection of who you are? Or, does it reflect what the setback truly is — result of an action that is open to improvement…instead of thinking “I am a loser”, you tell yourself, “I messed up today”.
4th step: Show yourself more love (I know it has started sounding like a cliché but it still works)
It becomes much easier to handle life’s curve balls & bounce back when you are comfortable with who you are as well as confident in your capabilities and capacity to learn. It’s one of the most important steps for developing emotional resilience.
Take some time out of your busy schedule to introspect -
- Find out which thoughts and beliefs are making you play small.
- Does your value of self-worth depend heavily on what people think about you or say to you?
- Do you find yourself taking things personally too often?
When you work on overcoming your limiting beliefs and developing a healthier value of self-worth, it stops you from unnecessarily taking things personally and develop emotional resilience more effectively.
5th step: Know your level of flexibility
Emotional resilience is about staying in touch with your emotions & having the courage to ask for help. Stay open to all the emotions life has to offer but at the same time lookout for how much you can handle & when you need help. Resilience comes from flexibility, just like bamboo in a storm.
Connecting with other people produces oxytocin in our brain — the chemical which promotes a feeling of wellbeing & reduces stress. Stay strong but create a support system where you offer as well as receive positive support when needed.
Working on thoughts, attitude, and beliefs is never easy but is absolutely important if you want to make long-lasting changes in how you understand the world around you. What brings us maturity of outlook is choosing to focus more energy on the learning potential rather than the emotional aspect of any situation.
What helps you come out of any emotionally taxing situation?