Emotional Resiliency

Emotional Resiliency

What does emotional resilience mean to you? What do you think about when you hear this term? For some people, they think of adversity and setbacks. Others may think of it as the ability to cope with their circumstances and ‘bounce back’.

The American Psychological Association defines resilience as, “…the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.”

Can you think of someone who shows that way of being emotionally resilient? Who do you think of? Earlier today, I was listening to a clip from Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations podcast. It was a preview of her interview with Chanel Miller, who authored the book, “Know my Name”. It was just a clip, which then led me on a trail to learn more about this young woman, who has shown so much emotional resilience in adversity. In 2015, Chanel was sexually assaulted on the Stanford University campus. She wasn’t a student. She just decided that she would be silly and go out with her younger sister and her friends. She knew that she would probably be the oldest one there. Her sister teased her for dressing like a librarian to a college party. She had a few drinks, and then the next thing that she remembers is waking up in a hospital room with no panties on, pine needles in her hair and scratches and blood marks on her body.

She wrote a victim impact statement and read it to her assaulter in court. I encourage you to listen to it online. Emotional Resilience does not mean that you don’t feel pain or you don’t suffer. Emotional resilience means that you have found a way to cope with the circumstances that might be engulfing you. There is no timeline for this. For many, being able to find one’s voice, or stand on one’s own 2 feet, or rise out of a pit of depression, may take weeks, months, years. Does this mean that you are not emotionally resilient? No. It’s a process, and that is okay. Embrace your humanness. Remember that emotional resilience looks different in everyone.

So then, what are some of the characteristics of an emotionally resilient person? Here are some:-

Being able to set realistic goals for oneself

Being able to encourage and be encouraged

Determination and perseverance

A positive mindset

Self-compassion and in turn compassion towards others

Effective communication skills

People have asked, how can I build resilience in everyday life? The best way to build resilience is to just dive in and practice it. Don’t wait for it to happen. Here are a few strategies that you can use with yourself or even with a child, to help build resilience in your daily life:-

Build your self-compassion skills. This includes acknowledging how you feel, rather than pushing it down. Be kind to yourself. That inner voice in your head. You know which voice I am talking about. Train it to speak to you, as you would speak to your best friend, or to a child, or to a puppy.

Connect, connect, connect with others. Even when the urge is to isolate, step out of your comfort zone and connect with someone.

Surround yourself with people books, music, you name it, that inspires and nourishes you

Check your thoughts. Are they solution-focused or self-deprecating and problem-oriented?

Acceptance. Accept that change is part of life and trust. Trust the path of your life. Nurture your faith in God. Start or continue a spiritual practice, and this does not just mean going to church. Think about what nourishes you spiritually? Is it a favorite self-help book, writing your own music, a nature walk, painting, meditation, listening to your favorite music or gardening?

Get moving. Yes, exercise, but actually I was talking about finding a way to serve others. It’s amazing how much our energy can shift when we can focus on being of service to others. This does not have to be momentous. It can be the small acts, such as paying for the drink of the person behind you, taking some flowers to the elderly lady on your street, inviting someone over for dinner or mowing your neighbor’s lawn.

Self-Care. Be kind to yourself. You are precious. Be patient with yourself and set boundaries in your life where you need to. It’s also okay to pamper yourself and carve out time to JUST BE. Self-care can also mean seeking out additional support such as a church, therapist, support group or mentor.

These are just a few ideas to help you nurture the seeds of emotional resilience that are within you. It is a process, and it can be built upon. Find ways to practice it in your daily life.

“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo – far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.” – Jodi Picoult

– American Psychological Association website

– Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations podcast

– Time to Change website

Author: Sarah Harris, LMFT, RPT, BC-TMH

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