Emotional Resilience Is Key. Here's How to Cultivate It.
Have you ever been upset at yourself for feeling upset? Learn how to control your emotions instead of letting your emotions control you.
Resilience is your ability to bounce back quickly after a crisis, setback, failure or difficult situation. This stress can be caused by your work, finances, relationships, illness, death of a loved one or world crisis, to name a few — anything that leaves you feeling out of control.
Now, you don't just wake up one day with emotional resilience. It is a skill that is mindfully acquired and practiced often so you can get good at it. Emotional resilience is not repressing and suppressing your emotions to bulldoze through life. It's effectively learning to cope with the stress that can potentially leave its residue on your physical, psychological or emotional health.
Before we talk about the how-to, let’s look at the benefits of becoming an emotionally resilient person.
1. You gain control over your life
When you are emotionally resilient, you don’t have to be in control all the time, yet you naturally start to have more control over your life, decisions and situations. You don’t have to ride the emotional roller coaster multiple times a day. You can set your focus and achieve what you set out to achieve because your emotions are under control.
2. Agitation and frustration do not phase you
When you don’t feel in control, agitation and frustration are normal responses to stress. If you experience agitation and frustration often, it is a sign that you need to be more resilient. Any setback or failure steals your joy and peace, leaving you exasperated. An emotionally resilient person is proactive in foreseeing scenarios that would make him or her feel a certain way, and he or she braces himself or herself for the impact. You don’t want to be reactive, but proactive. The way you leave reactivity behind is when you know who you are at the core and have an unwavering trust in your abilities, which is possible when you unconditionally accept yourself.
3. You stop trying to please others
When you stop riding the highs and lows of what others think of you, you gain clarity in who you are. Emotionally resilient people feel confident within themselves. They feel enough. They feel worthy. They don’t need to please others for approval or validation. They validate themselves. They don’t hesitate to say no to others.
When you don’t let emotions get in the way, you genuinely feel comfortable in who you are. You don’t doubt your abilities. You trust your intuition because you have the coping mechanisms to bounce back to your baseline quickly.
4. You become independent, free and unworried
Worries melt away quickly when you become resilient because your mindset has totally changed. You trust your intuition more. If you are like me, you want to be able to do things on your own. You don’t like depending on anybody for anything. If you have to depend on someone, it makes you feel weak. And feeling weak is the perfect ground to grow negativity, worry and doubt. When you drop the victim mindset and become emotionally resilient, you start to take things into your own hands rather than letting them happen to you.
5. You see your mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow
Who doesn’t make mistakes? We all make mistakes, especially entrepreneurs. We grow business from our learned mistakes. We take financial and many other risks all the time. They often come with emotional turmoil as well. Entrepreneurship is all about risks and learning from others’ and your mistakes. In fact, mistakes are necessary for growth. However, if you keep repeating the same mistake again and again, it is not a mistake. It is a behavior. Behaviors depend on habits. Look at your physical and mental habits. You have unconscious ways of doing things, but mindfulness and awareness can change that.
6. You communicate effectively
Emotionally resilient people are effectively able to communicate their needs to others. The ability to effectively communicate your needs to others means you get your needs met. Because when people have a clear idea of what you need, others are more likely to either meet your needs or tell you that they can’t. Either way, it's good for you because you can move on to the next person or resource.
7. You are happier
Last but not least, you become happier as you gain the ability to bounce back to your baseline quickly. When you feel in control, focused and emotionally stable, you automatically feel happy. So, being emotionally resilient makes you a happier person in general. That is a great benefit because most of my clients set their goal to “be happy” when they start working with me. If this is your end goal as well, then I would highly encourage you to practice emotional resilience.
How to build emotional resilience
When I first start working with my clients, I help them define what happiness means to them and then we come up with some measurable objectives to reach that goal. Having them journal about their feelings is a good start. If you wear your emotions on your sleeve or fly off the handle too often, you have a lot of suppressed emotions that require your attention. These suppressed emotions become emotional triggers that initiate an unconscious emotional response to the stimuli present in your environment. If you want to change your reactivity, start by paying attention to your emotions. The main emotions that promote lack of resilience include anger, guilt, sadness or depression, anxiety or fear, and humiliation. These hard-to-cope with negative emotions hijack your peace and joy. Write about incidents and situations when you overreacted. Look for the victim-mindset thoughts that allow you to make excuses or blame other things and people.
Once you are aware of your emotions, observe them with compassion and empathy as much as possible. Accepting yourself just the way you are is the backbone of emotional resilience. Pretty much all psychological and emotional issues arise out of low self-esteem. They start with judgment and comparison. Most of the time, we label ourselves as our emotions: for example, “I am depressed.” Although it is a correct way of expressing what you feel, it translates to “I am not in control and good enough.”
Instead say, “I feel depressed.” Creating this distance from your emotions helps you see yourself more as a human than a robot that must always be in control. Being able to have compassion and empathy towards yourself means self love, and self love is at the base of emotional resilience because being able to have a total, unconditional positive regard for yourself promotes emotional wellness, spirituality and self-actualization overall.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor