Psychologists define emotional resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. Building emotional resilience helps cultivate inner strength and develop new coping strategies.
“When we learn how to become resilient, we learn how to embrace the beautifully broad spectrum of the human experience.”
― Jaeda Dewalt
To be alive is to be at constant risk of facing intense pain. Hard things will happen to all of us. Buddha’s first noble truth said it well:
“Life is suffering.”
Unforeseen tragedy will strike
The people you love will eventually pass away, or become sick. Some things you’ve worked on for years will be stripped from you. You may have harrowing battles with your physical or mental health. Some of your dreams will crash and burn. And if miraculously, none of this happens to you in the first half of your life, it will happen to someone close to you, and they will need your support.
The list of adversities goes on. If you are a human, and you have lived for any number of years, inevitably something difficult has happened to you. You can’t control whether or not life throws challenging things at you (spoiler alert: it will.) But you can control how you respond to those things.
This insight is at the heart of many Buddhist teachings: Accept the inherent difficulty in life, or any given situation, and focus instead on your relationship to the adversity.
Because our interpretations of what happens, and attitudes toward it, are perhaps the only thing we can control. People squander so much time resisting adversity, wishing it would change, or dwelling on its presence.
The way that I see it, handling adversity is the master key to life. If you can do that, you become unfuckwithable. This whole ride feels so much smoother, and you drastically raise the upper limits of your success.
On this journey, you must be able to endure the storms and open yourself to becoming antifragile – where friction, shocks, and impacts are processed to make you stronger, wiser, and more creative. If you cannot, then the darker weather of life will only break your spirit down and ruin the fun in living.
This article is about how to do the former. Because at the core of these skills is something anybody can develop: Emotional resilience.
If you notice that you avoid difficult things, get easily flustered under pressure, or tailspin and lose control when bad news comes your way, this will help you immensely.
What Is Emotional Resilience?
It is your ability to adapt to and move through hard times.
It is the durability of an optimistic, accepting, productive state of mind. It means you are able to remain clear and resourceful in any situation and flip negatives into positives.
Emotional resilience is what has you able to take (almost) anything in stride, not freak out, and keep moving forward. I snuck the “almost” there because there’s no such thing as being bulletproof. We all have our moments, which is why other people are crucial in this as well. But the work of developing that support network is still in our hands as well.
There are simple things that you can do on a regular basis to build more emotional resilience. So, that when those challenging days occur, you will be able to handle them.
To give your direction a little more definition, let’s break down some of the key characteristics you’re aiming to develop. With these tools, you can come out on the other side of anything with more strength, wisdom, and confidence.