Resilience (Latin for resilio)
The ability to bounce back, to cope with life’s ups and downs, to get back on the horse after a fall.
Some people seem to possess a stronger, higher emotional resilience. They are able to overcome adversities and even recover more easily from traumatic events. Each of us has our own level of emotional resilience, but fortunately it is something we can cultivate.
How Can We Cultivate Emotional Resilience?
1. View your situation as an obstacle to overcome instead of a problem. Even redefining the scenario takes some power away from the situation and removes the “victim” label from yourself. The people who have been able to push through failure after failure, or seemingly impossible odds, are the ones that don’t allow anything to get in their way of their dreams. Think of Oprah Winfrey’s difficult childhood and young adult circumstances and you see a woman with emotional resilience; someone who sees obstacles as small speed bumps rather than reasons to give up.
2. Think about what that particular situation might be trying to teach you. I am all about the idea of radical ownership, but man is it tough! What is radical ownership? Taking responsibility for everything that happens in your life – problems, people, situations, etc. We are all on a journey in this life. We are souls intended to accomplish a particular thing in this life, to discover our true selves and pursue our purpose. When we can see problems as lessons and a way for our inner selves to communicate with us, suddenly the situation is within our control and we can grow and learn through the experience.
3. Step INTO your fears. Another challenging one. Fear is our subconscious mind’s way of communicating to us that we are entering a dangerous situation. Now, the fear I’m talking about is not healthy fear like avoiding certain areas of town or not putting yourself into ACTUAL dangerous situations. This fear is usually one that has been built in your own mind: fear of public speaking, fear of rejection, fear of loss, fear of failure, and so on (pick your fear). When you sense a fear of something, stop. Take a minute to breathe, then really look at what you are fearing, ask yourself why it scares you, where that feeling came from and figure out if that protection mechanism is serving you today. If it is, great! But most of the time, it isn’t. It’s usually contributing to loneliness, lack of success and a feeling of helplessness or victimhood (see number 2). At that point, thank yourself for protecting you all these years, then tell your subconscious that you no longer need that protection, and let it go. You may need to repeat this process until you really have let it go. In the meantime, if you’ve determined that it’s not a legitimate fear, step into it and expand your comfort zone. Once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll wonder why you were ever afraid. Additionally, the more you practice this, the easier it becomes to take on other fearful situations.
4. Be optimistic. I know… it sounds so cliché. However, “Just think positive” really does help! It’s easy to get engulfed in a difficult situation, to be so myopic that we forget the blessings in our lives. So when you’re going through something or dealing with adversity, try not to spend all your time thinking about the problem; instead, begin thinking about your blessings and how grateful you are for the things that are going right in your life. A thought to ponder:
We become what we think about most of the time -Earl Nightingale
If you think about the problem, you give it more power in your life; if you focus on gratitude, you’ll see more things to be grateful for show up in your life.
5. Be okay with not having all the answers. I think most of us like to know what is going to happen, when it’s going to happen, how it’s going to happen – and even better – have some say in the situation. But this isn’t always possible. One of the things I’ve really had to practice over the years is having my dreams but not mapping out the exact route. On occasion, the route that opened up was one I would never have imagined. Be open and allow things to unfold with gratitude, patience and persistence. Don’t give up because it’s not going the way you thought it would. Dream big, but do it without the need to control the paths you take to get there.
Developing emotional resilience and mental toughness takes a lot of work. But the more you practice in day-to-day situations, the easier it will be for you to deal with more stressful situations in life as they arise.
Finally, practice self appreciation, forgiveness and patience. Your attitude toward your own growth is just as important as your growth. Understand it will take time and love yourself through the process, congratulate yourself and identify all your successes. Success builds on success.