How Emotional Resilience Guarantees a Better Life
Ever wonder why some people emerge stronger than before in the face of trauma and adversity? Do they have a roadmap for adapting to life's tough situations?
Emotional resilience is one's ability to adjust to crises or stressful situations. Resilient people handle the stresses that come with life more calmly and effectively, and are better able to manage hardships. Less resilient people, on the other, have a harder time dealing with stress and life changes. Fortunately, emotional resilience can be developed. In fact, everyone is born with this trait.
Resilience isn't necessarily a personal trait that only a few possess; on the contrary, this trait involves thoughts, behaviors, and actions that anyone can learn. The fact that it can be learned is why studies have shown that it is ordinary –not extraordinary.
Psychologists define resilience as the way an individual adapts well to tragedy, trauma, threats, adversity, or significant causes of stress –namely, serious health problems, workplace/financial stressors, or family/relationship issues. While resilience means bouncing back from these troubles, it can also bring about profound personal growth.
Although physical and emotional resilience is, to an extent, something we're born with, some people are -by nature- less affected by surprises and changes –something that can be observed in infancy and tends to endure throughout their lifetime. Other factors that also determine levels of resilience are: age, gender, and exposure to trauma. So, even if you're naturally more sensitive to difficulties/hurdles, you can certainly become more resilient if you know what to do.
Characters of Emotional Resilience
There are varying degrees at how well someone can handle stress and crises, but here are the main features of resilience:
Emotional Awareness. Those who are emotionally aware understand what they feel, and why. Because they’re more in touch with their inner self, they understand others’ feelings well, too. This type of self-awareness helps them to regulate and cope with big emotions, like fear or anger, and respond appropriately to others.
Optimism. This isn’t the rose-colored stained glass kind of optimism. Resilient people choose to see the positive in tough situations while believing in their strength. This shifts how they handle drawbacks from being a victim into empowered. With realistic optimism, more alternatives open up to them.
Perseverance. Whether working on inner coping strategies or towards outward goals, they’re action-focused which means they trust the process and don’t quit. They don’t feel hopeless or helpless when faced with a challenge, instead they keep working towards a goal.
Internal Locus of Control. They believe they ARE in control of their own lives, instead of feeling controlled by external forces. This trait is linked to lesser stress because this helps people take a realistic view of the world, become more proactive and solution-oriented, and have greater sense of control in how they respond.
Sense of Humor. Emotionally resilient people can laugh at life’s many troubles. This is an asset as it shifts their perspective of things from threat into challenge, which then alters how the body reacts to stress.
Support. Other than greatly contributing to overall wellbeing, social support system plays a critical role in improving resilience. Resilient people understand the value of social support and, thus, surround themselves with positive friends/family.
Perspective. They learn from their mistakes (instead of deny them), allow adversity to make them stronger, and see hurdles as challenges. They also seek meaning in life’s troubles rather than thinking themselves as victims.
Spirituality. Studies have found that being rooted in the spiritual aspect is associated with emotional grit –especially if one is internally connected and not merely going through the motions of it.
So, how do we build resilience? Taking simple steps to improve resilience goes a long way.
Manage your thoughts. Work on accepting that change/setbacks are part of life and commit to maintaining a hopeful outlook.
Take care of yourself. Self-compassion fosters wellness. Look after your mind and body by eating well, staying physically active, and avoiding unhealthy coping habits.
Build positive connections. Seek out healthy relationships and be part of a community whose beliefs help you gain better perspective in life.
Being resilient doesn’t mean you’re already immune to distress and difficulties. The road to resilience would in fact involve significant emotional distress. But, like building a muscle, improving resilience takes intention and TIME. Focusing on the four core elements of resilience –wellness, connections, meaning, healthy thinking– can empower you to withstand adversities and learn from traumatic experiences.
If you need help developing healthy coping habits to boost emotional resilience, please talk to our mental health professionals at Jarvis Hypnotherapy.