We would like to live a happy, carefree, and successful life. The fact of the matter is that life throws problems in our way. Those problems commonly cause setbacks in our quest for what we want and need in life. An important key to forging ahead, overcoming or going around setbacks, is to develop emotional resilience so that we do not become our own worst enemies, always believing that things will never get better. Learning how to build emotional resilience in the face of repeated adversity is important to dealing with life’s difficulties and maintaining good mental health as we go through life.
What Is Emotional Resilience?
Emotional resilience is when we are able to adapt even when situations are stressful. Emotional resilience is when we are able to stay on an even emotional keel when buffeted by the storms of life’s ups and downs. It is when we learn how to adapt, overcome, or avoid problems and continue with our lives. A key to this approach is to practice mindfulness. The point of mindfulness is to focus on the present moment, accept the feelings, sensations, and thoughts that you have, and then deal with whatever situation requires your attention.
Steps for Practicing Emotional Resilience
The bottom line for emotional resilience is not to let emotions driven by current problems, old problems, or even imaged problems take over your thoughts and your life. All of us have warning signs like a sense of constant fatigue, less enjoyment of things that we normally love to do, reduced appetite, or even a sense of hopelessness. Learning to pay attention to these warning signs puts us in a state of mindfulness where we can deal with issues that are simmering right below the surface of our emotions and consciousness.
Bumps in the road of life are common. So are anxiety, aches and pains, worries, distractions, and impediments to what we are trying to achieve. To the extend that you cannot change anything by worrying, do not worry. To the extent that you can change things, do it. Sorting all of this out may take practice but is worth the effort. A useful tool in this effort is the serenity prayer, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
It can be very easy in life to fall into a game of follow the leader, imitating the actions of others, and letting others encroach on your life. Setting boundaries is important to keep track of what you want and need versus what others demand of you. Learning to say “no” can be difficult when we are afraid of being excluded from social groups or friendships. Most people are surprised that when they set boundaries they do not lose friends or find themselves excluded from social groups but rather find that they have rid themselves of troublesome relationships and have more time for the things they enjoy in life.
Maintain Your Connections with Those Who Are Important to You
It is one of life’s true facts that when we spend time with irksome people, they wear us down. And when we spend time with friends and positive family members, we feel better about ourselves, fuller of energy. When we maintain connections to those who are important to us, we have people to talk to about what troubles us, some to help us solve life’s dilemmas, and someone to pep us up when we are down. Take the time and make the effort to routinely maintain these relationships and the effort will reward you time and time again.
Allow for Imperfection in Yourself and Others
A problem with success stories that we hear is that they can make us feel like failures. The stories commonly do not include all of the problems the person had along the way or all of the self-doubt they experienced. Many of us are too hard on ourselves. We come to believe that any mistake or shortcoming is a stain on our character and self-worth. Likewise, many of us demand perfection in others when it is not reasonable. Accepting that life is not perfect, people are not perfect, and that you are not perfect is a good starting point for understanding life and developing the emotional resilience needed to cope with life’s difficulties.
Live a Balanced Life and Take Care of Yourself
When we are anxious about accomplishing a task or simply not failing at it, the task and its execution can become all-consuming. This means we exclude important people from our lives. We neglect to take care of ourselves physically and emotionally. We miss the cues that tell us that we are working too hard and becoming depressed or anxious. Learning to live a balanced life, get enough exercise, maintain healthy relationships no matter how busy you are is an important skill that helps everyone maintain emotional resilience.