Resiliency is not an inherent trait, it is a practice.
In fact, our ability to respond to and cope with life is usually a direct reflection of how many challenges we’ve been through. It’s usually the people who are the most at peace who have also been through the worst that life could offer them.
There’s no coincidence in this.
When we learn to respond to our circumstances better, and especially through practice and repetition, we develop the character needed to get through life with more ease.
These are 7 strategies that you can use to not only respond to your emotions, but also learn from them, grow from them, and use them to your advantage.
Lean into how you feel.
Rather than leaning out of their emotions, resilient people get clear on what they feel and why.
Instead of leaning away from how they feel (such as one would do through drinking, suppression, or distraction) emotionally resilient people journal, speak with a therapist or trusted friend, or express their experience in some other way that validates it.
Accept it, even if you don’t like it.
Accepting something does not mean you’re okay with it. It doesn’t mean you aren’t going to change it. It doesn’t mean it’s right. Acceptance only means that you are no longer going to stay in denial about reality.
Acceptance is the first step to healing because until we see our circumstances for what they are, changing them becomes impossible. Even if your acceptance looks like you admitting that you’re in a crisis and you need help, that’s still progress, because you’re so much closer to receiving it as opposed to where you would be if you remained in denial.
Speak plainly about the facts.
When we’re all jumbled up in how we feel, the facts about what’s really going on can become totally skewed.
A way to instantly calm yourself down and get clear on what’s really happening is to speak the facts about the situation, or what you feel about the situation, as simply as you can. This may look like this:
- I am on the receiving end of a brutal breakup, one I didn’t see coming, and right now I’m feeling lost, unstable, and embarrassed.
- I dislike how I look, and after a lifelong battle to accept myself, I am feeling hopeless that I will ever find peace.
- I am anxious about my work situation, though I recognize it is irrational, the feelings are strong and are disrupting my quality of life.
Find your motive.
People who are resilient find the silver lining in anything.
Another way to put this is that they find their motive no matter what’s going on. If they are responsible for doing something they don’t feel like doing, they imagine what’s in it for them. If they are required to go to work, or exercise, or do really anything that isn’t immediately satisfying, they focus instead on what benefit they could extract from it.
Instead of thinking that you dislike your one family member so you’re dreading the holidays, consider how happy you’ll be to see everyone else you love — that should make one individual seem worth dealing with. Instead of thinking that you don’t want to go to work, think about your long-term goals, or even just your paycheck. Instead of thinking that you don’t want to exercise, think about how much better you’ll feel after you do, or how accomplished you’ll feel at the end of the week.
In anything life has to offer, there is always a benefit to be found. Emotionally resilient people find it.
Learn to laugh at yourself.
Humor is an incredible tool to diffuse otherwise tense and difficult situations.
If you’re able to make a joke about what you’re going through, or find something funny and ridiculous within your own behavior, you’ll likely find yourself much more able to cope with what’s going on. Humor instantly lightens any situation, and when you don’t take everything so seriously, it alleviates so much unnecessary pressure.
Solve the problem.
More often than not, there is some kind of action that we can take in order to resolve whatever is bothering us.
In fact, we often find that the things that irritate us most consistently are the ones that are pointing toward an issue in our lives that we need to work to resolve. If we are constantly stressed about finances, then financial health needs to be something we strategize and prioritize. If we are in constant conflict in our relationships, then learning emotional intelligence and how to better get along with others should be what we’re focusing on.
Though most people simply allow life to happen to them, the emotionally resilient recognize that a lot of life is a reflection of them, and therefore, they can control, if not at bare minimum influence, their own outcomes.
When we are most uncomfortable in our lives, it is often because life is demanding a better version of us start showing up. Though discomfort seems as though it should be our enemy, it is really our greatest ally, a deep and pervasive knowing that we are deserving of more, capable of more, and destined for more.
The most impactful thing that emotionally resilient people do is adapt. When their old ways can no longer support them, they reinvent. They release old aspects of themselves, and build new ones. They are in a constant state of growth.
Though you cannot always control what you feel, you can control how you respond, and in that response, you can find your freedom.