When something bad happens in your life, how do you react to it? Do you go spiralling down and start thinking that you have a bad life? Do you take a really long time getting out of that negative headspace? Or do you pick yourself up quickly and get on with your life?
A lot of our life is not what happens but how we react to it. And having said that, I think it’s important to mention that we should respond to situations and not react, ideally. Bute yes, we are all human and we often have reactions to the circumstances in our lives. A lot of these reactions depend on who you are as a person and of course the kind of life you have lived.
Do you respond and approach with kindness or do you get agitated really quickly? Do you pick yourself up after a failure or do you start telling yourself to never go after your dreams ever again?
You see, regardless of our plans and our dreams for our life, bad things happen. Sometimes, more often than we’d even imagine. And how you respond to these situations dictate how your life is going to be, to a great extent. And that’s why it is important to build emotional resilience to carry on with your life, while still addressing those feelings and things that have happened of course.
And addressing the feelings and what you went through is important as well. We are not talking about being stone cold and tucking those emotions away somewhere. We are talking about facing things that have happened, but not letting them affect you for a really long period of time.
And in this post, we are talking about exactly that.
What is Emotional Resilience?
Emotional resilience is one’s ability to adapt to circumstances and stressful situations or times of crisis. More resilient people are able to take them head on and take on those challenges. While less resilient people are easily affected by circumstances around them, no matter how big or small. It means the ability to bounce back or to roll with the punches.
It is how easily you bounce back from a stressful or negative situation. But it is in no way saying that things don’t affect me. Having a strong resilience means accepting the fact that you are broken and affected by something around you, but not letting it impact your inner motivation. It allows us to perceive situations and adversities in our life as “temporary”.
Emotional Resilience is an inner force that helps you calm your mind after something negative happens in your life. it allows you to hold on and carry on with your life. And just like IQ or Emotional quotient, it is there since childhood and continues developing.
That’s why everyone has a different resilience. And it depends on what they have been through and how they have reacted to those situations in the past. There are some people who have had relatively tougher lives and thus are more resilient. Some people are of course more resilient, by nature. And they are less affected by the situations and changes in their lives.
It also depends on whether you’ve had a very difficult life or a relatively easier life. There are of course no set standards to measure resilience and it’s not something that you can compare as well. It all comes down to how sensitive you are and depends from person to person.
While resilience also depends on other factors like age, what kind of experiences or trauma you’ve faced. But Resilience can also be built over time. In fact, when it comes to resilience there are three building blocks.
Three Pillars of Emotional Resilience:
Emotional resilience has three building blocks or pillars. And knowing a bit about these pillars can help us build more resilience. And these three pillars are: Physical, mental and social.
The Physical Element: It involves physical strength, health, and energy. A physically stronger person is relatively more resilient.
The Mental Element: It involves mental or psychological elements like mental strength, emotional intelligence, Self esteem, self confidence, Self expression, emotional awareness and reasoning abilities.
The Social Element: It involves your relationships at work, with friends and family, the kind of communication you have, how understood you feel etc.
Traits of Emotional resilience:
The fact is that some people are more resilient than others and it depends on how much stress you can handle. However, there are some traits that emotionally resilient people share. And it serves us well to know these traits so that we can work on building them.
Self awareness means being aware of different aspects of self, including your feelings, traits, behaviours etc. It is the ability to tune into your feelings and having a deep understanding of your thoughts and your behaviour patterns.
Being more in touch with our inner self helps us in becoming more resilient. Because being more self aware helps us looks within for answers to our problems rather than being miserable and blaming the world. Someone who is self aware knows how they react to situations and can think about how to do things differently rather than feeling like they are not in control.
Self-Esteem & Confidence:
Having a high Self-esteem and being confident with yourself can also help you build more resilience. Because both these traits dictate how you respond to what’s happening in your life.
Flexible Thinking & Non-judgemental Mind:
Studies have shown that people who are not judgemental and have flexible thinking are often more resilient than others. Flexible thinking has a couple of aspects like adjustability and rationality, rather than being dead set on how things are supposed to go.
And a person who can see things for how they are and look at things from different perspectives as well is more resilient than others. Having a flexible thinking allows you to see obstacles as challenges and to learn from your mistakes rather than deny them.
And that’s one of the very first steps when it comes to building more resilience and that’s what’s your immediate response: Fight or Flight.
Do you tackle the situation head on or do you have a tendency to escape from the situation and ignore it until it completely blows over?
People who have a higher self control are more resilient because they do not immediately react to the situations they are faced with. They can control their feelings and are thus less likely to be affected by stress. They are not too fast in drawing conclusions and they have the ability to see things as they are rather than over thinking.
They also know that a lot of what happens next is how they react to a certain stimulus and they take their time and gather their thoughts before reacting. instead, they respond to situations after careful evaluation.
We are all social animals and having good inter-personal relationships at both professional and personal level helps us in being more resilient. And while Emotionally resilient people are strong individuals, they understand the value of relationships and social support and they know the importance of surrounding themselves with friends and family who supports them.
A lot of the times, your inner motivation is what keeps you going despite the difficulties and the stressful circumstances. And that’s why being consistent and committed to keep trying is something that comes in really handy when you’re trying to build more resilience. It’s your inner voice telling you to never back down that plays a role.
Then comes optimism and the ability to see the good in every situation. You know how there are some people who always see the positive side of things? They are generally more resilient because they do not let the negative situations affect them.
Sense of humour:
The ability to laugh at some situations when things don’t do according to plan is something that not a lot of people possess. But it sure is something that resilient people have and having a sense of humour and laughing it out is such a great stress buster as well.
How to Build More Resilience:
Now that we have talked about the traits of resilient people and also why it is so important to build resilience in life, let’s talk about the how. How do you build a Resilience that’s bullet proof. How do you pick yourself up after a failure and move on with your life without letting it affect you for months at end. Here are some things that will help:
#Building SELF Acceptance:
The first step to building more resilience is self acceptance. Whenever tragedy strikes, do not run away from it. Instead, face it and accept the fact that this is happening right now. Address your feelings and emotions, no matter how lost you feel. It will serve you well to acknowledge these things and the feelings you’re feeling in the present as they are happening.
So even if you feel like you’ve lost the battle and feel broken, accept the fact and that emotion. And then tell yourself that it’s okay to feel what you are feeling and that your emotions are valid and you don’t have to hide them. This act of embracing your feelings helps you pick yourself up when the time is right.
#Practice Daily Affirmations:
I have said it before and I will say it again, affirmations are super under-rated. Whenever something negative happens, our mind tends to over think and fill with negative thoughts.
And daily affirmations can help us address these thoughts and replace them with positive ones.
So, instead of focussing too much on the negative thoughts and letting them cripple you, try affirmations. Have you ever heard the saying that whatever you focus on, it grows. So if you focus too much on the negative thoughts, they grow.
But if you try affirmations and if you assure yourself that you can do something, you are more likely to get out of that negative headspace more quickly.
Here are some Daily Affirmations that you can try:
- I have the ability to power through any situation.
- It’s just a bad day, not a bad life.
- I will focus on finding a solution.
- I am in control of shaping my future.
- I am enough and I have everything I need.
Other than affirmations, journalling can also help you address your feelings and turn them around. When you journal, you can get to a deeper level and really understand why you’re feeling what you’re feeling. Sure things didn’t go well and according to plan, but does that mean you can’t find a solution?
I find journalling quite therapeutic because it lets me make sense of my emotions and put them into words. And so often, it all comes back to our past life experiences and how we handles those situations back then and journalling can help you connect those dots.
And I find it really helpful because it helps me understand why I reacted in a certain way and helps me improve myself by asking the question “How can I do better?”
#ASk a friend for help:
We are social animals and we need social connections and inter-personal relationships to get through life. And when the times are tough, it becomes even more important. So having a friend you can trust and open up to can be really comforting and something that helps you be more resilient.
So try building a network of people you trust and who will be there to support you when you need, both in personal life and at work.
#seeing the positive side of things:
Seeing the positive in things and situations is something that can help you be more resilient. So if you find yourself in a negative headspace and letting negative thoughts affect you, try replacing them with positive ones. Write down your negative thoughts on a piece of paper and then write positive ones to replace them.
Here are a few examples:
- I don’t think I can move on > REPLACE WITH > It will get better with time
- I have no control over my life > REPLACE WITH > I am in control of my narrative
Practising gratitude is one of the best things you can do to be more resilient. because when you come from a place of gratitude, you learn to appreciate the things that you already have instead of focussing on things that you don’t.
So when something goes wrong or doesn’t go according to plan, being grateful allows you to be more present instead of focussing too much on what didn’t happen.
It will help you tremendously in being more resilient too. Because it lets you see and appreciate what you have and get up and work even after a failure. So make it a habit to keep a gratitude journal. You can start by simply writing down 3 things everyday that you’re thankful for.
# Focus on yourself:
When the times are challenging and stressful, we often tend to neglect our health and that in turn affects our resilience. Remember how resilience has a physical element to it? So taking care of your physical health is just as important.
Instead of going completely down the spiral and neglecting your health, try focussing on it instead. Make it a habit to workout and eat healthy nourishing meals everyday. The more you focus on your health and are physically fit, the less these circumstances affect you.
I have had these good habits pull me through some really tough times in my life and I think they can help you too. Everything you feed your body has an affect on your physical or mental health.
So, make it a habit to focus on your health, eat good and also consume less of the negative information that’s all around you. If you feel like the news is impacting your mental health, it’s good to stay away for a while and take a break.
And that’s it. Building resilience takes time, but with these changes, you can build more resilience and not let things affect you as much. And when you do that, you’ll see that you start looking at things from a new perspective and you will start taking on obstacles as challenges. And even when you do fall and fail, you will have the strength to get back up again and put up another fight.