We all had to deal with difficult situations at some point in our lives that affected us significantly. Emotional resilience refers precisely to our ability to respond to stressful and unexpected situations and crises and recover from difficult experiences by dealing with them flexibly and developing more helpful ways of thinking. It is our ability to bounce back and move forward despite challenges and to develop effective coping and adaptation strategies to adversity. Emotional resilience means managing my emotions and my stress reactions in order to bounce back, it is about getting up whenever I fall, not never falling.
How do you know if you are emotionally resilient?
- Feeling that you can cope with the difficulties/adversities you face.
- Recognizing that you are experiencing negative emotions connected to the situation without becoming paralyzed and managing your emotions and reactions in a way that you can be functional.
- Whenever you are struggling you feel like there are people you can turn to and you take care of your interpersonal relationships and strengthening your social skills.
- You are flexible and see change as an opportunity rather than a serious threat and difficulties as a challenge to solve the problem proactively.
- You maintain and strengthen your confidence and self-efficacy and you continue learning and using difficulties in order to improve as person.
- Maintain an optimistic outlook on life and you are an enthusiastic, active person, full of energy and curiosity, open to new experiences.
- You actively cultivate positive emotions, use humor in challenging situations and positive thinking and you have developed effective ways to relax.
How can I build my emotional resilience?
In order to develop over time our skill of emotional resilience it is useful to enter into a process of self-reflection every time we face an adverse situation. This important process of becoming aware of and evaluating our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in relation to a situation will allow us to gain deeper self-knowledge and understanding of the adverse condition. This will give us the opportunity to reflect on our coping strategies, support resources, personal reserves, emotional self-regulation skills and mindsets and act in ways that increase our overall resilience.
Setting goals. In this way we focus on the future and give ourselves an internal motivation. We focus on something positive that empowers and gives us something to look forward to when we face problems.
Flexible thinking. Understanding that some things are out of our control, stop worrying and dwelling on things we can’t do anything to fix and make sure to focus on what we can influence.
Positive Thinking. Thinking positively and cultivating positive emotions fills us with strength and is a skill that we can learn and develop gradually by practicing to focus on the positive and on what we have achieved.
Strong relationships and connection with others. We take care of our relationships and when things get difficult we have the ability to engage the support from the people important to us whether they are friends or family.
Recognizing and managing emotions. We learn to perceive, evaluate and express our emotions thus gaining a better understanding of our emotional world which will allow us to manage them more effectively and facilitate our emotional development and mental well-being.
Stress management. Developing effective strategies to relax and deal with stress allows us to create an emotional balance where the scale will tilt towards positive emotions and not allowing stress dominate which normally triggers reactions and behaviors that do not help us overcome difficulties.
“When I came to study it was a turning point for me. This beginning coincided with so many personal difficulties…I felt my life changed so drastically. These difficulties weighed me down a lot, but I bounced back when I realized that I can’t control the difficulties that will come but I can control the way I think about them and the choices I make.”
P. 21 years old, student of DUTH