Do you know those people who just seem to be able to roll with the punches, who take everything in stride, and who just don’t seem phased with all that life throws at them? Have you ever wished to be more like them? Well, with one change, you can be one of those people! What sets you apart from these individuals is their emotional resiliency (ER).
Simply stated, ER refers to one’s ability to adapt to stressful situations or crises. People with lower levels of ER tend to have more stressful reactions to life’s challenges. For example, individuals with higher levels of ER may see a failure as a challenge to improve themselves or their skills, while individuals with lower ER are more likely to retreat or give up when faced with a challenge. They also tend to personalize comments more easily and feel “victim” to their circumstances.
What impacts our resiliency? Many studies show that how we are taught to manage stress strongly impacts our ability to be more flexible in our reactions. If as children, we watched parents handle stressful situations with panic, avoidance, alcohol etc. then we are more likely to look for a similar coping mechanism as adults.
Children need to experience ups and downs to develop strong ER. If we do not allow our children to experience some normal, stressful childhood situations, we may actually increase their risk of a lower ER. One of my pet peeves is the notion that “everyone gets a trophy.” As a child therapist, I am certainly an advocate of protecting a child’s self-esteem, but children also have the right to develop ER by learning healthy coping mechanisms.If children experience “losing” a game or an award, they can be encouraged to learn where they can make changes in their techniques to win the next game. These natural consequences allow children an opportunity to make changes. We should be advocates for children, but not prevent them from learning natural consequences.
How can one develop their ER as an adult? Here are some tips:
- Learn to look at the bigger picture. Rather than getting caught up in a current situation, focus on where you are going in the bigger picture, and make your steps to move in that direction.
- Create a network of support. People with a higher ER tend to have a support circle that they share things with often. Ask for support, listen to feedback, and take the time to connect with others in your world.
- Learn to laugh. Not everything needs to be taken seriously. Sometimes you just need to learn to laugh, especially at your own mistakes. In the end, most of the mistakes you have made were not life threatening and should not be treated as such.
- Be an optimist. Yes, you can learn to be an optimist… as easily as you learned to be a pessimist. It’s a decision you make everyday. We must learn to seek out evidence of what is going well in our life, not remain focused on what we feel is not.
- Shake up the simple things. Yes, routines can be good, but when we change our routines, our neural pathways are forced to change as well. Practicing rolling with the punches with simple changes in our routines which will help us roll with bigger changes.
Building your ER will help reduce your stress, change your perspective, and even support in improving your mood.
Here’s to a new perspective!