The Steps For Emotional Resilience (Episode 150)
The term "emotional resilience" refers to the ability to adapt to stressful situations or crises. It's that ability to "bounce back" or make it through adversity, and is a critical component of having a growth mindset. So how do you foster emotional resilience in your home, and ensure all emotions are processed in a positive way?
Emotional resilience isn't running away from emotion; it's allowing the journey of emotion and then choosing to use it for the positive to move forward.
The process to get to Emotional Resilience
If you lay out the process of where emotional resilience plays in, it's a cycle. It typically goes like this:
1. Traumatic Event - something happens that is traumatic - death, natural disaster, poverty, sickness, war, attack...even something like humiliation, shaming, or blatant judgement.
2. Perceived Stress - you will naturally respond. Is it fight/flight/freeze? Do you burst into tears, shut down, or want to throw punches?
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3. Stress Management - this is when you reach in your toolbox to figure out how to navigate it -what coping mechanisms do you have to process through it? Is it clearly communicating what's going on? Talking with a therapist, coach, or friend? What emotional support have you set up for yourself, and have you learned to self-regulate when your emotions are shaken?
4. Emotional Resilience - and here is where the biggie comes into play. Because you've already worked to identify what causes stress, how you respond to it, and what coping mechanisms can get you through it, you have all the tools to "bounce back" and choose to take what you can learn from the experience, and then let the negative emotions go.
Elements of emotional resilience
So what are the elements of emotional resilience? These are what we hold onto that helps us process through, and these are the traits we work to instill in our children -
- Optimism - yes, there is hope for the future - I am in charge of what I will create, starting with my own mindset.
- Self belief - that belief in who I am and what I can do comes from a clear understanding of my own strengths and personality style.
- Self-control - in knowing myself well, I know what triggers reactive behavior and can be proactive with my intentions vs. reactions.
- Adaptability - being willing to compromise and work within what is already happening makes it easier to jump in and make things happen.
- Flexibility - nature is a great reminder that things will not always go as planned, and, just like water, flowing with the current is much easier than forcing through a dam.
- Problem-solving - my father always says, "we don't have a problem; we have an opportunity for a solution." Being able to find the answers is way more powerful than just having the answers.
- Emotional awareness - am I aware of the emotions out there and how to navigate each one? Do I understand the stages of grief? Am I able to sit back and observe emotion first before reacting?
- Social support - having people I can talk things out with, and people who recognize the beauty in simply holding space for another - these are so important.
- Sense of humor - laughter is truly an incredible medicine. I have processed grief, anger and pain through laughter, and the willingness to laugh at yourself and love yourself anyway is the first step in building grace for others.
So, if you want to build emotional resilience, 2020 is the year to do it, right! We're living in a historical moment that will forever impact our future, and the opportunity for raw, unadulterated emotion is great.
So can't we take a crash course on emotional resilience and then be golden moving forward? Well, what is the point of this one extraordinary life you're living?
“There was a man who wanted to transcend his suffering so he went to a Buddhist temple to find a Master to help him. He went to the Master and asked, ‘Master, if I meditate four hours a day, how long will it take me to transcend?’
The Master looked at him and said, ‘If you meditate four hours a day, perhaps you will transcend in ten years.’
Thinking he could do better, the man then said, ‘oh Master, what if I meditate eight hours a day, how long will it take me to transcend?’
The Master looked at him and said, ‘If you meditate eight hours a day, perhaps you will transcend in twenty years.’
‘But why will it take me longer if I meditate more?’ the man asked.
The Master replied. ‘You are not here to sacrifice your joy or your life. You are here to live, to be happy, and to love. If you can do your best in two hours of meditation, but you spend eight hours instead, you will only grow tired, miss the point, and you won’t enjoy your life. Do your best, and perhaps you will learn that no matter how long you meditate, you can live, love, and be happy.’”
- Don Miguel Ruiz; The Four Agreements
A muscle to be developed
This isn't something that is all-encompassing in our lives. It's a part of who we are, that, like a muscle, can be exercised and developed to help us...or hinder us.
In Positive Psychology Today, it says,
Emotional resilience is an art of living that is entwined with self-belief, self-compassion, and enhanced cognition. It is the way through which we empower ourselves to perceive adversities as ‘temporary’ and keep evolving through the pain and sufferings. (Marano, 2003).
In a broad way, emotional resilience means bouncing back from a stressful encounter and not letting it affect our internal motivation. It is not a “bend but don’t break” trait, rather resilience is accepting the fact that ‘I am broken’ and continuing to grow with the broken pieces together.
When we are resilient, we not only adapt ourselves to stress and disappointments, we also grow the insight to avoid actions that might lead us to face such situations [moving forward].
Are you innovating?
Are you using emotional resilience to learn and grow and innovate new ways of thinking, processing, and responding? If what worked in the past is no longer an option, are you able to tap into other resources for growth?
Here are your simple steps, direct from Psychology Today:
Simple Ways To Develop Resilience
1. Be assertive
- Replace negative thoughts with positive ones
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Communicate often
- Accept feedback and criticisms
2. Relax and breathe
- Meditate often
- Practice deep breathing when you feel burnt out
- Wander in the wilderness once in a while
- Appreciate nature
3. Cultivate hobbies
- Explore your passions
- Spend time doing what you love to do
- Invest in some good reads – self-help books, positive thinking, inspirational stories, etc.
4. Find balance
- Be grateful for the little things that make you smile
- Spend some ‘me-time’ at least once a week
- Devote time to your family – parents, partner, and kids
- Catch up with old friends
Be Resilient: An Acronym
Let's break this down to an acronym to help you:
Respond to change; don’t react to it.
Before you jump into immediate reaction-mode, take time to consider the change/impact and what it really means. Look at the big picture, and give some thought to how you will respond. If nothing else, count seven seconds.
Engage with others.
Relationships are key. In this post-COVID world, our social outlets have drastically shifted. As we move forward with caution, it is imperative that we prioritize relationships. Do you have a consistent social outlet? Are you making it a point to connect with others on a regular basis?
There are many things out of our personal control. The news can leave you feeling helpless. What are you in control of? What systems and routines can you add in to your life for stability? Are you addressing your physical, mental, spiritual, emotional needs? Are you making a daily contribution to your overall health and wellbeing, developing habits that are tried and true (and within your control) even when things seem tumultuous?
Resiliency is all about adjustment. Change is easier for some than others. But everyone needs to develop the ability to improvise in the face of change. If you can’t do some facet of what you've done in the past, what can you do instead? Maybe things look different in your home, yet this is an opportunity to look with a clean slate, and see what you can improve on from before.
Look for the lessons.
Before moving forward, maybe now is your opportunity to look back and learn. What lessons can you take from the past to help you move forward? Can you look with a growth mindset at the current situation and find some new insight that will help you in the future?
Sometimes we can get lost in our own drama and forget there are others going through things as well. When things seem hopeless, it's oftentimes the perfect time to help another. In lifting others up, we inevitably rise up ourselves. Instead of preaching about your lessons learned in the process, simply BE the inspiration for others. You find a helpful lesson? Let others see the positive impact by your actions. Be a living inspiration of resilience.
Take the time to look back and determine what you might want to do differently. In times of crisis, oftentimes the darkest part of ourselves can take over. Did that happen? Did you learn something? What surfaced in this time that warrants some extra attention and care?
Navigate the flow
While you process your own emotions, the world doesn't go on pause. Life keeps flowing past you, and you have to navigate the waters. As a family, this is an opportunity to "batten down the hatches" through the storm and create a safe boat to navigate the waters together. Is your home a safety net for testing emotional resilience? Are you able to come and recharge there, knowing the flow of life happens, regardless, and you need opportunities to rest and re-evaluate while still moving forward?
Thank your people.
People want to help. They want to be needed, and they want to have purpose. Your family can be your support and accountability. Your social tribe keeps you sane and engaged in life. Your children have the puppy-like devotion to you even when you aren't rockin' your finest attitude. Have you taken the time to thank them? Show the ones around you how much you appreciate them. Don't ever assume, and make it a point to tell them consistently what you are grateful for about them.
Your Weekly Challenge:
Print off the acronym. Look at each one and do something proactive this week to make each step happen - not just for you, but with your children and/or your partner.
You get to make the choice on what you will carry with you - look at the myriad of emotions that you have experienced this week, and determine what is serving you well to carry on, and what you are ready to let go of.
Like the beautiful quote from Jaeda DeWalt above, "when we learn how to become resilient, we learn how to embrace the beautifully broad spectrum of human experience." We are intricate beings, and we can spend a lifetime discovering more about ourselves and merely scratch the surface.
Give grace for humanity - we are a volatile bunch. Bring awareness to your own emotional resilience this week, and look for how your own personal happiness and resilience can be an inspiration for others. Remember, the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us. Namaste
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