Emotional resilience is the inner strength that enables you to power through any storm and remain steadfast. In having it, we gain the ability to see adversity as only a temporary condition and to easily adapt to both changing circumstances and difficult situations.
The word ‘resilience’ comes from the Latin word ‘resilio’ which means ‘to bounce back’ or retaliate.
Emotional Resilience has three building blocks:
1. The Physical Elements – physical strength, energy and good health.
2. The Psychological Elements – focus, self-esteem, self-confidence, emotional awareness, self-expression, and reasoning abilities.
3. The Social Elements – relationships, likeability, communication, and co-operation.
In their book Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges, Steven Southwich and Dennis Charney consolidated their 20-years of research to identify the 10 things resilient people have in common.
By following these findings you will have the tools to develop and build your emotional resilience:
- Be optimistic
Emotionally resilient people combine a positive outlook on life with a realistic world view. They don’t dwell on negativity and focus on problems they can solve and not on those they can’t. They are confident, yet pragmatic about what they can do.
- Face your fears
Neuroscience says to deal with fear: you need to face it, head on. Emotionally resilient people do this. Those of us that avoid scary things become more scared. By tackling your fears head on, they have less control over you. When you experience fear, think, “I’m scared, but I can learn from this,” or “This is a test that’s going to make me stronger.”
- Develop a strong value system
Emotionally resilient people generally have a strong moral compass and a sense of right and wrong. They always think about others, not just themselves. These values strengthen them during times of pressure or difficulty, allowing them to be selfless in their concern for others, with no expectation of personal gain.
- Follow a religious faith or spiritual belief
The number one commonality found when studying emotionally resilient people who had overcame tragedy was religious belief. Much of the strength came from believing in the existence of a higher being and a greater picture as well as belonging to a community.
- Build a great support network
Surrounding yourself with friends and loved ones is the key to emotional resilience. Our brains need social interaction to function at their best. Connection with others releases a chemical in your brain which calms your mind and reduces your stress levels.
- Choose resilient role models
When you look at emotionally resilient and successful adults who’ve grown up in difficult circumstances you often find that they had great role models who provided a positive example and supported them. By modelling the behaviour of those they wanted to emulate they were able to leave their hard childhoods behind and go on to lead healthy and productive lives. We can do the same by picking our ‘heroes’ wisely.
- Take care of our bodies
It’s often been said that a healthy body equals a healthy mind and most resilient people have a strong fitness regime and healthy habits to keep themselves strong. Staying fit and well is essential for emotional resilience as the stress of exercise helps us adapt to the stress we will feel when life challenges us.
- Become perpetual students
Resilient people are perpetual students. They continue learning – long after they’ve left education behind. They are keen to develop their self, skills and to adjust to changes in the world. They continually seek opportunities to become more mentally fit. Lifelong learning keeps your brain sharp and opens your mind to new knowledge and the world around you – helping you be better prepared for whatever circumstance you come up against.
- Use humour
Extremely resilient people set themselves apart as they use a number of ways to deal with stressful situations. They tend to be flexible in the way they process challenges and react to stress. They choose the appropriate coping strategy relating to the situation. Humour is often very powerful in this respect and is an effective coping mechanism you can adopt to develop your emotional resilience.
- Know your calling
Resilient people don’t have jobs — they have vocations. They have clarity on their mission and purpose in life, fully knowing their ‘why’. This knowledge powers them in good times and bad and is a motivating fuel that pushes them forward. Having a clear ‘why’ will help you to continue in life, even when the situation you face seems impossible.
To summarise; emotional resilience is like a muscle – the more you exercise it the more it develops. By boosting your resilience you can ensure that you are better equipped to deal with overcoming adversity both personally and professionally.