We humans are highly capable and creative problem-solvers who can become stronger and more flexible in stressful times. Psychologists call this “emotional resilience,” and it’s a key ingredient as to why some people seem to sail through stress without a care in the world.
In order to build emotional resilience, it simply requires being aware of ourselves and how we react in difficult situations.
Here are five steps to help create this resiliency.
1. Selecting self-efficacy.
When a problem arises, own what is happening to you instead of running to an addiction. Ask the needed questions to be able to solve the problem. Use critical thinking, reasoning and problem-solving techniques on your own so you will trust your instincts more. Resist the urge to blame others. Also resist the urge to expect too much from them. We often give too much credence to “experts” (they need help, too) when each of us knows our own motivations better than anyone else. You are creative and resourceful enough to find ways that work best for how you are wired, so try to go at it alone as well.
2. Emphasize empathy.
Empathy helps build our own self-worth. We practice seeing ourselves and everyone around us as having value, yet not promoting entitlement or enabling anyone.
Being thankful and self-sufficient will free up energy to become empathetic. Sometimes empathy isn’t learned well when things are too comfortable since it sends a false sense of security. This may be the only one that will require an unforeseen event to trigger. Another bonus with practicing empathy is the “happy” effect of oxytocin, the hormone that is released when we care for others. It affects our brain chemistry and well-being in a real way.
3. Practicing patience.
Use your self-talk and be mindful when you’re in a difficult situation. Notice what is happening while you have to wait for something rather than focusing on the losses. Remain in the stress. Choose mindfully to examine what you can learn from the situation instead of escaping. See yourself as courageous and brave instead of a victim of circumstance.
Notice what is good about the wait. Maybe you can use the time to try to solve an ongoing concern. You could even be thinking that you are grateful to be actively stretching and strengthening your core, so that the next time it happens you have the previous foundation to draw upon.
4. Creating capacity.
Instead of finding something temporal to ease discomfort, we need to be asking ourselves what the root cause might be. Maybe it’s an unresolved hurt or a chronic condition. It may not have an immediate solution, but we can experience peace despite its pressure.
Many of these superficial solutions are destructive. Instead, we can choose to become emotionally resilient. We can avoid going toward the downward spiral of the temporal fix and instead move into the upward investment of the lasting reward.
5. Perceiving possibilities.
Be curious and strive to make connections to bridge knowledge gaps. Listen to others with an open mind to see if you are missing something. Accept and learn from constructive criticism. Take time out to read or watch something that challenges you to think deeply. The ability to make wiser decisions comes in part from having more information.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Oct 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Bogdanos, M. (2013). 5 Steps to Help Build Emotional Resilience. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 30, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/10/26/5-steps-to-help-build-emotional-resilience/